(Corrects score in final paragraph of story published yesterday.)
The winner of soccer’s Europa League will qualify for the following season’s Champions League, beginning with the 2015-16 season.
European soccer governing body UEFA made the announcement today at its annual Congress in London, site of tomorrow’s all-German Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. The move is being made to broaden the appeal of Europe’s second-tier club competition.
“As was proven with this year’s magnificent final, the UEFA Europa League has gone from strength to strength, but we wanted to give clubs a further incentive, so that all of them play with a desire to win the competition,” UEFA President Michel Platini said. “By guaranteeing access to the UEFA Champions League for the winners, we are convinced that the UEFA Europa League will increase its appeal for clubs and their supporters.”
The Europa League winner will enter the playoff round of the Champions League. As a result, the maximum number of qualifying teams from one country increases to five from four.
“I am convinced that these new changes will help to further boost the UEFA Europa League,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association, a group of the continent’s top clubs, said in a statement. “The Europa League is a very good competition and will continue to develop and grow in the future.”
England’s Chelsea won the Europa League title May 15 by beating Benfica of Portugal 2-1.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.