Infographic: The futility of the Europa League

 by Martin Belam, 16 September 2010

I've been talking and writing a lot recently about data driven journalism and data visualisations, and how there is no point doing it for the sake of it, but that you should do it to tell a story. And so I thought I'd try my hand at one.

I want to tell you a story about the UEFA Europa League, whose grotesque group stage is the focus of the sports pages today.

The thing with the Europa League group stage is that it takes 144 matches to whittle 48 teams down to 24 - who then only go on to form three-quarters of the teams taking part in the next round of the competition. It is a farce, and I wanted to illustrate the futility of it all. I had in mind a massive unfolding pure HTML5/CSS3 interactive - but I wouldn't know where to start with that, so I just put some blobs on a page.

Here is my chart of how the numbers of teams and matches stack up in European competitions this year. The Europa League takes a staggering 481 matches to reach a conclusion that nobody particularly cares about anyway...


Looks like they'd be better off if they jsut combined the two, as the Europa league looks like a good race up for second place.

wow that's very illuminating, and not in a good way.

It used to be the national league champions who were in the European Cup and the runners–up who went through to the UEFA cup. That makes sense but doesn't allow all the ‘big’ clubs to carve up a few million in TV revenue year in year out.

The comments form looks a lot better, BTW.

The Europa League is a second class competition that simply gives nations that are not as strong in world football a chance to play in Europe. Look at Shatkar from the Ukraine, in the Champions League they would struggle to get past the initial round but hey they won Europa.

Unluckly Europa League has not importance for many clubs.
In Italy there are team who plays it with many reserves.
Teams and people only care about Champion's Leage

You really hit the old nail on the head with this article. I don't usually spend a lot of time online reading blogs or article unless the are about football or cycling. So this was a unexpected bonus to come across this post. They do it for the money!

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