Over six decades, UEFA's competitions have enthralled spectators, produced a catalogue of matches and goals to remember, highlighted the talents of countless brilliant men and women footballers, and given endless proof of why football is the most popular sport in the world.
UEFA stages 15 football competitions, from the elite tournaments such as the UEFA European Championship and the top club competitions, through the competitions for youth and amateur players, to futsal competitions and the flourishing competitions for women and girls.
The UEFA European Championship is among the top sporting spectacles worldwide, along with the FIFA World Cup and Summer Olympic Games. The final round, held every four years, and featuring 24 teams from 2016, sees many of Europe's best footballers on show in a glittering celebration of national team football and national footballing identities.
UEFA's two major club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, not only have irresistible appeal for the fans, they are also greatly attractive in commercial terms. The Champions League trophy is the silverware that the top players in the world want to win, as the competition has become the blue-riband global club football spectacle. The Europa League has made its mark in a few short years as a result of its diversity and broad geographical sweep of clubs.
The UEFA Super Cup brings together the previous season's winners of the two top club competitions in a showpiece occasion which heralds the start of each new campaign.
Many of the players who take part in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship for national teams have already gained experience in the UEFA club competitions, and a select few are knocking on the door for inclusion in their senior national teams. The competition has established itself as an attraction for fans in its own right.
The superstars of tomorrow are ripe for discovery in the male youth competitions, the UEFA European Under-19 Championship and UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The U19 competition has featured a host of players that have gone on to fame and glory in the following years, while the U17 event offers an exciting first glimpse of youthful footballing talent.
UEFA has also given young players a fresh initiative to shine through the launching in 2013/14 of the UEFA Youth League. The first two trial seasons featured the youth teams of the 32 participating clubs in the UEFA Champions League group stage. From 2015/16, the UEFA Youth League became a permanent UEFA competition and was extended to 64 teams, enabling the inclusion of youth domestic champions.
Amateur players are not forgotten in UEFA's competition portfolio. The UEFA Regions' Cup involves regional teams comprising players who relish the opportunity to perform on the European stage.
Futsal is now a successful sector of football with its own clear identity. The national-team Futsal EURO, the final round of which is held every two years, is now attracting record attendances at final-round matches, as well as media coverage and commercial support, and the UEFA Futsal Cup for club teams is taking on ever-increasing importance, given that futsal is constantly evolving as a sport since its introduction by world body FIFA as a new discipline in 1988.
Women's football is turning out to be a fantastic success story, and UEFA's work in this sector has paid handsome dividends, with the women's game striding forward as a sporting and public attraction. Every four years, the top European women players strive for glory in the UEFA European Women's Championship final round, which sees many players become household names and the quality benchmark for women's national team football set higher with each edition.
The top players and many promising youngsters also make their mark at club level each season in the UEFA Women's Champions League, the final of which has a special niche, as it is staged in the same city as the men's UEFA Champions League final.
More and more girls are being attracted to football, and those who have excelled find their way into their national youth teams and potential participation in the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship and UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship. Each edition of the two competitions brings an evolution of tactical and technical skills, and projects the top women's players of the future into the spotlight, as well as providing an important pathway in the young players' development.
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