The UEFA Europa League /juːˈeɪfə jʊˈroʊpə ˈliːɡ/, previously called the UEFA Cup /juːˈeɪfə ˈkʌp/, is an annual men's association football club competition organized by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.
Previously called the UEFA Cup, the competition has been known as the UEFA Europa League since the 2009–10 season, following a change in format. For UEFA footballing records purposes, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League are considered the same competition, with the change of name being simply a rebranding. In 1999, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was abolished and merged with the UEFA Cup. For the 2004–05 competition a group stage was added prior to the knockout phase. The 2009 re-branding included a merge with the UEFA Intertoto Cup, producing an enlarged competition format, with an expanded group stage and changed qualifying criteria. The winner of the UEFA Europa League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and from the 2015-2016 season onwards the winners of the previous season's UEFA Europa League will qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the winner entering at least at the play-off round (assuming they do not already qualify through domestic performance), and will enter the group stage if the berth reserved for the Champions League title holders is not used.
The title has been won by 27 different clubs, 12 of which have won the title more than once. The most successful clubs in the competition are Juventus, Internazionale and Liverpool with three titles apiece. Since the tournament changed name and structure in 2009, no club has managed consecutive wins. English side Chelsea are the current champions, defeating Benfica 2–1 in the 2013 Final.