Europe’s biggest football competition, the UEFA Champions League, is the best counterpoint to the biggest football competition in the world, the FIFA World Cup. As its name shows, it is a competition reserved for European teams, the best clubs from each of the continent’s countries. And it’s a major highlight in European football each year, deciding the best of the best. As such, one might expect football fans to know every detail about the competition. Yet here are 5 things you didn’t know about the UEFA Champions League.
It’s a prized competition
The clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League might not do it for the money (they are paid quite a lot anyway by their sponsors) but they get it anyway. As of the 2016-2017 season, the total prize money paid out by the competition’s organizer to the best teams is €57,200,000 (over $67 million). The smallest amount is earned by the club that wins the first qualifying round (€220,000), while the biggest paycheck is reserved for the one that wins the final – €15,500,000.
Besides, clubs are paid a share of the “market pool”, depending on the value of the television market in each country. Last season, for example, Juventus earned almost €60 million from this revenue share alone.
The UEFA Champions League is sponsored by quite a few major multinational corporations. Among its current sponsors, you’ll find brands like Gazprom, Heineken, PepsiCo, Sony, UniCredit, MasterCard, and Nissan. Players can wear one sponsor logo on their shirts aside from the logo of the kit provider – which is Adidas, the provider of the official match ball – the Adidas Finale – and the uniform of the referees.
Spain has taken home the UEFA Champions League trophy the most times since the inception of the championship – it has 17 wins and 11 runner-up finishes on record. The second best is Spain (12/16), followed by England (12/7), Germany (7/10), and the Netherlands (6/2).
Real Madrid is the club with the most wins (12), followed by Milan with 7, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona with five wins each.
While Spain has the highest number of wins on record, England has provided the highest number of winners in the competition. While only two Spanish clubs have taken the trophy home – Real Madrid and Barcelona – England has five winning teams: Aston Villa and Chelsea with one win each, Nottingham Forest with two, Manchester United with three, and Liverpool with five wins on record to date.
Referee age limit
No referees over the age of 45 are allowed to participate. This age limit was introduced to ensure an “elite level of fitness”. Besides, referees have to undergo an extensive fitness test to even be considered for the UEFA Champions League.