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(Union des Associations Européennes de Football;

The governing body of European football. The acronym has come to be pronounced in two syllables—as in the English word ‘wafer’—in continental Europe, and worldwide, though in English the first letter is often stressed as a single syllable in a three-syllable pronunciation. Formed in 1954, UEFA initially comprised the established football associations of Europe: 25 of the continent's 31 associations attended the inaugural meeting in Basle in 1954. Fifty years later the association had 52 members. UEFA's earliest aspirations were to organize cross-continent club competitions and a Europe-based tournament for national teams. It established the Inter-Cities Industrial Fairs' Cup (to become the UEFA Cup in 1971–2), and embraced the European Champion Clubs' Cup (widely known as the European Cup), which had been stimulated by the French sports publication L'Équipe (See Équipe, L'), and was first competed for in season 1955–6. The European Nations' Cup, or European Championship, was first staged over a 22-month period between 1958 and 1960. In 1960–61 the European Cup Winners' Cup became UEFA's third club competition. The union, brainchild of the Belgian, Italian, and French football associations, was stimulated by the united front in Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) matters and business shown by the long-established South American federation.

Based for its early years at the headquarters of the French Football Federation in Paris, it transferred to Berne in Switzerland in 1960, with Swiss Hans Bangerter as general secretary and Ebbe Schwartz of Denmark as president. In the late 1990s UEFA relocated to Nyon, near Geneva, opening its futuristic and lush headquarters on the shore of Lac Léman in 1999. UEFA president for seventeen years was Swede Lennart Johansson, who championed principles of accountability and democracy, alongside the restructuring and rebranding of the old European Cup into the UEFA Champions League in 1992 (allowing the participation of two, three, or four teams from the strongest and most influential member nations). UEFA's constituency expanded after 1990, with the collapse of the USSR and the establishment and formation of new independent states with their own football associations. Drawing support from some of these, on a platform and manifesto seeking greater rewards for small nations from the Champions League, French former football star and FIFA executive member Michel Platini (aged 51) won the UEFA presidency, ousting the 77-year-old Johansson by 27 votes to 23. From 1954 to 2007 UEFA had six presidents: Schwartz from 1954 to 1962; Gustav Wiederkeher of Switzerland from 1962 to 1972; Artemio Franchi of Italy from 1973 to 1983; Jacques Georges of France from 1983 to 1990; Johansson from 1990 to 2007; and Platini, elected in January 2007.

http://www.uefa.com/ The official site of the federation of national football associations in Europe, offering descriptions of its organization and European competition, and features.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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