FCR 2001 Duisburg's victory in the last UEFA Women's Cup on Friday ensured their presence in the new UEFA Women's Champions League, launching in 2009/10 as a new showcase for the European club game.
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FCR 2001 Duisburg's victory in the last UEFA Women's Cup on Friday ensured their presence in the new UEFA Women's Champions League, which launches in 2009/10 as a new showcase for the European club game.
Replacing the UEFA Women's Cup, which has been running since 2001/02, the new competition will display the continent's best female clubs, with more entrants and a high-profile one-off final to be held two days before the men's UEFA Champions League final, in the same city. For the first time, the top eight associations in the ranking will be entitled to two entrants – the winners of their national domestic league as now and also the runners-up.
The top eight ranked nations for 2009/10, based on results obtained in the UEFA Women's Cup between 2003/04 and 2007/08, are Germany, Sweden, England, France, Denmark, Russia, Norway and Italy. The other nations will enter their league champions, while Duisburg will also be ensured a berth as European titleholders, and if they finish third in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Germany will have three entrants, though the sole three-time UEFA Women's Cup winners 1. FFC Frankfurt will not be among them. Zvezda, as 2008 Russian champions, will also take part along with runners-up WFC Rossiyanka, while two-time UEFA Women's Cup winners Umeå IK will represent Sweden along with newcomers Linköpings FC and 2007 European champions Arsenal LFC and Everton LFC from England plus two-time semi-finalists Olympique Lyonnais.
The main points of the new format are:
• The eight eligible runners-up and the champions of the lowest-ranked nations will compete in the qualifying round, consisting of a number of four-team mini-tournaments. How many teams begin in the qualifying round and the amount of groups will be determined by the amount of entries.
• The titleholders and top-ranked champions will join the successful teams from the qualifying round in the Round of 32. From hereon the competition will be played in a two-legged knockout format, with one draw made for the Rounds of 32 and 16 in mid-August and the games played in autumn. Another draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, to be played in spring, will be held in November or December.
• The final will be played in the same city as the UEFA Champions League final, two days before the men's match. The 2010 final is scheduled for Thursday 20 May 2010 in Madrid, with London to follow in 2011 and Munich the year after.