Champions League Archives

Champions League Archives Part I: The Birth of the European Cup

On Saturday 3rd June, the Millennium stadium in Cardiff will host the 2017 Champions League final. In a repeat of 1998, record 11-time winners Real Madrid will defend their title against Italian giants Juventus.

Before the showcase event of the footballing season, Melosport will provide an insight into the origins and history of Europe’s most grand club competition.

Inception

The origins of the European Cup trace back to the 1940s where famous French publication L’Equipe became protagonists in the tournament’s foundation.

L’Equipe was first published in 1946 and inherited sporting pedigree since its predecessor L’Auto assisted in the creation of the Tour de France.  A prestigious broadsheet newspaper, the paper is renowned for its literary style of reporting where coverage of the world’s major sporting events favours a Parisian dramatic style.

Two years after the first publication L’Equipe journalist Jacques Ferran covered the South American Champions of Champions or what is now known as the Copa Libertadores and he combined forces with editor Gabriel Hanot in lobbying UEFA to create a Europe-wide club football tournament.

In 1953, only months before the English national team were handed their first ever defeat on home soil (by Hungary 6-3), the legendary Ferenc Puskas played for Honved against Wolverhampton Wanderers during a summer exhibition tournament. Wolves beat the Hungarians in addition to Argentina’s Racing Club and Spartak Moscow which resulted in journalistic declaration that Wolves were the Club champions of the world.

Since Europe harboured ambitions of being considered the best footballing continent in the world, it was the perfect time for Ferran and Hanot to press ahead with their revolutionary proposal. UEFA sanctioned their concept and green lit a maiden European Cup competition for the 1955/56 season.

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