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Football's Finalissima: history and rebirth

A short guide to tonight’s tectonic clash of football’s most successful continents, Europe and South America.

Denmark's Jakob Kjeldbjerg challenges Argentina captain Diego Maradona in a 1993 clash for the Artemio Franchi Cup
Denmark's Jakob Kjeldbjerg challenges Argentina captain Diego Maradona in a 1993 clash for the Artemio Franchi Cup ©Per Kjærbye

What is the Finalissima?

The Finalissima pits reigning EURO champions Italy against Copa America winners Argentina at Wembley on 1 June. The winners take home the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions.

Is this the first time that the continental champions of Europe are taking on their South American counterparts?

No, the Finalissima represents the relaunch of a 37-year-old contest. While it is the first such meeting since 1993, Wednesday’s match is actually the third time that the EURO winners and Copa América holders are playing in a winner-takes-all game.

UEFA president, Aleksander Čeferin

"It is with great pride that we are relaunching such a prestigious national team trophy to the delight of football lovers across the globe."

Why have UEFA and CONMEBOL brought back the continental contest?

The revival of the Finalissima celebrates the long-standing unity between UEFA and CONMEBOL and was announced last December after the sister confederations extended an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until 30 June 2028. The renewed agreement also provided for the opening of a shared UEFA/CONMEBOL office in London and the organisation of joint football events.

What’s the overall score after the first two finals?

Europe 1 South America 1. France claimed the first trophy in 1985, Argentina levelled the score on aggregate in 1993.

And who were the captains of the winning teams?

Two of football’s greatest players. Michel Platini, captain of the French side that won EURO 1984, and the late great Diego Maradona of Argentina. Both players lifted the Artemio Franchi Cup, now known as The CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions.

Tell me more about the matches?

The Parc des Princes in Paris hosted the inaugural match August 1985, with France overcoming Copa América champions Uruguay thanks to goals from Dominique Rocheteau and José Touré.

The second 'final' between Argentina and Denmark in Mar del Plata in February 1993 was a much closer affair. Nestor Craviotto’s own-goal edged the EURO '92 victors in front, only for Claudio Caniggia to level the scores before half-time. The host nation finally prevailed after a tense penalty shoot-out.

CONMEBOL president, Alejandro Domínguez

"By signing this renewal and expansion of our Memorandum of Understanding we are laying the foundation for this fluent cooperation to grow and develop further."

How are UEFA and CONMEBOL working together to develop football?

Since 2017, elite youth players representing national teams from Europe and South America regularly get to test their skills against each other, thanks to UEFA’s Assist development programme. To date, Assist funding has allowed nine CONMEBOL member associations to compete in numerous Under-16 UEFA youth tournaments across Europe.

"These competitions help talented young players grow on and off the pitch often giving them the opportunity to play in an international tournament for the first time," says Eva Pasquier, UEFA’s head of international relations. "It’s an inspiring experience which opens a door to different playing styles and cultures."

The UEFA Assist programme in South America