UEFA Champions League is an annual football tournament held under the auspices of UEFA among European club teams. The first draw of the tournament was held in the season 1955-1956.
The idea of the annual football tournament between the strongest club teams in Europe belongs to the French sports journalist and editor of the newspaper "L'équipe" Gabriel ANO. He proposed and developed the project and the rules of the tournament, which was called the Champions Cup (eng. European Champion Clubs' Cup). The first European Cup of the season 1955-1956 was held in January 1955.
The format of the tournament provided for two matches between the teams (at home and away).
The 1991-1992 season was the last European Cup draw. After that, the format of the tournament was changed - instead of matches for the knockout of the play-off system, group competitions were introduced. The tournament has a new anthem and emblem, operating to the present time.
Since the 1992-1993 season, the tournament has been called the UEFA Champions League.
During 62 years of the tournament, 22 clubs became its winners, while 12 clubs won the tournament more than once. The greatest number of victories won the Spanish clubs that won the Cup 17 times. The record for the number of titles won is real Madrid, which has won the trophy 12 times.
Since the tournament's transition to the new format in 1992, no club has been able to win the Champions League for two consecutive seasons.
Until 1992, the draw was attended by clubs-winners of the Championships of their countries and the last winner of the European Cup.
Starting from the 1997-1998 season, teams that took second place in a number of countries (according to the UEFA odds table) began to participate in the tournament. The system of qualifying rounds was amended, in accordance with which Champions of the countries with a low ratio could participate in one or more qualifying stages before the group stage, while teams from countries with a high ratio would fight later. Currently, the countries with the highest coefficient delegate four clubs to the Champions League.
Since the 1992 season, the tournament has been held in several stages.
The first stage includes four qualification rounds. Teams that qualify play 2 games (at home and away). According to the results of two meetings, the winner is determined, who gets to the next qualifying round. After passing all the qualifying rounds, the teams enter the group stage, together with the teams that got there directly.
By drawing lots are formed 8 groups of 4 teams each. According to the results of the group stage, in which the teams play two matches each other, the first teams from each group take the first two places, and the team that took the 3rd place in the group gets to the 1/16 finals of the Europa League.
At this stage, the participants of the 1/8 finals are determined by drawing lots from 16 teams. In this case, pairs of participants are formed in compliance with certain conditions:
- representatives of one country (Association) and teams from the same group should not play with each other;
- the group winners playing the teams that took second place;
- the winners of the first places play the first matches at a party.
Stages 1/4 and 1/2 finals are also held according to the scheme of two matches with knockout. At the same time, no restrictions are provided for the formation of pairs of participants.
The UEFA Champions League final is held from a single match, which is held at a neutral stadium. The stadium for the final is determined by the UEFA Commission among the countries that have applied in advance. According to the rules, the stadium must have 5 stars of the UEFA rating and meet all the necessary requirements.