UEFA will introduce a third European cup competition in the 2021/22 season. The UEFA executive committee, which includes DFB President Reinhard Grindel, made the decision on Sunday in Dublin. 32 clubs will play in the new format which will be a third-tier European competition below the Champions League and Europa League. The winner of the competition will automatically qualify for the next season’s Europa League. Grindel spoke to DFB.de about the competition’s format and the decision to have a third European competition.
DFB.de: Mr Grindel, UEFA are introducing a new European competition in the shape of the Europa League 2. Why have you decided to create this?
Reinhard Grindel: It was a strong desire of ours to help clubs from smaller international football associations to participate more in European competitions. In lots of European leagues, the gap between the teams that qualify for the Europa League and the rest of the division is far too big. The new format allows more teams to qualify for the Europa League and also numerous chances to improve on the pitch and hopefully generate more revenue.
DFB.de: What will the format of the competition be?
Grindel: An extension of the Europa League from 48 teams to 64 is practically not possible. Therefore we have developed the idea to have the Europa League 2 next to the Europa League and have 32 teams in both competitions. We are still looking for a new name for the competition. The participants will be put into eight different groups based on a coefficient with four teams in each group that will play each other twice. The group winners will directly qualify for the round of 16 and the eight second-placed teams will play against the third-placed teams in the Europa League to decide who goes through to the knockout stages. This competition will start in the 2021/22 season.
DFB.de: Why did the DFB vote in favour of the competition?
Grindel: It would have given a really bad impression to break away from the majority of the committee and neglect the smaller nations after such a unanimous vote for Germany to host the 2024 European Championship. Other bigger football associations such as England and Italy were also in favour of the new competition.
DFB.de: How will this benefit German football?
Grindel: It will not change much for German clubs. We will continue to have four teams qualify for the Champions League with two teams qualifying directly for the Europa League. The team that finishes seventh will directly join the competition in August and not have to qualify, which takes place in July. Clubs from Spain, England, Italy and France will also be involved so it is certainly not just a competition for small clubs. It will be an attractive competition for the German clubs.