Besides the UEFA Championsleague, the UEFA Europa League is the second European Cup competition carried out by the UEFA. It was implemented in 1971, established under the name UEFA Cup as the third European Cup competiotion (EC3) and originally played in knock out system on aggregate in all rounds.
Since season 2003/04, right after the first round, a group face takes place. Except for the group phase the competition continues in the knock out system. Since 1998 the winner is no longer determined through aggregate but through a final game which takes place at a neutral location. Entitled to participate are clubs that follow those qualified for the Champions league as well as the national winners of the cup competitions. Hence all the UEFA’s 53 member-associations are entitled to send teams to participate in the UEFA Cup.
After the season 2008/09, the competition got its contemporary name. Besides the name, also the mode was changed. Now, 48 teams compete with each other in the group phase; the round before does not belong to the main competition anymore but to the qualification. Except for the title holder, there are no direct seeded teams for the group phase. The change of name first and foremost pursues the goal to increase the UEFA Cup’s “market value” towards the Champions league.
The record winners are Inter Milan, Juventus Turin and FC Liverpool with three titles respectively. Since the year 2000, the UEFA Cup or Europa League winner plays against the winner of the UEFA Champions league in oder to determine the winner of the European Super Cup.