Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Intercontinental Cup (football)

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Organising body  UEFA & CONMEBOL
Region  Europe South America
Last champions  Porto (2nd title)
Abolished  2004
Number of teams  2
Intercontinental Cup (football)

Founded  1960 1980 (in its last format)

The Intercontinental Cup, also known as European/South American Cup, and as Toyota Cup from 1980 to 2004 for commercial reasons by agreement with the automaker, was an official international football competition endorsed by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL), contested between representative clubs from these confederations, usually the winners of the European Champions' Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions League), and the South American Copa Libertadores. The competition has since been replaced by the FIFA Club World Cup.


From its formation in 1960 to 1979, the competition was contested over a two legged tie, with a playoff if necessary until 1968, and penalty kicks later. During the 1970s, European participation in the Intercontinental Cup became a running question due to controversial events in the 1969 final, and some European Champions Club' winner teams withdrew. From 1980 until 2004, the competition was contested over a single match held in Japan and sponsored by multinational automaker Toyota, which offered a secondary trophy, the Toyota Cup.

All the winning teams are regarded by worldwide mass media and football's community as "world champions". The first winner of the cup was Spanish side Real Madrid, defeating Uruguayan side Peñarol in 1960. The last winner was Portuguese side Porto, defeating Colombian side Once Caldas in a penalty shoot-out in 2004.


According to Brazilian newspaper Tribuna de Imprensa, the idea for the Intercontinental Cup rose in 1958 in a conversation between the then president of the Brazilian FA João Havelange and French journalist Jacques Goddet. The first mention to the creation of the Intercontinental and Libertadores Cups was published by Brazilian and Spanish newspapers on October 9, 1958, referring to then Brazilian FA president João Havelange's announcement of the project to create such competitions, which he uttered during a UEFA meeting he attended as an invitee. From the rise of the European Cup in 1955 to the announcement in October 1958 and finally the onset of Libertadores and Intercontinental Cups in 1960, Real Madrid C.F. (the reigning European champion all over the period) played two intercontinental club competitions, the 1956 Pequeña Copa del Mundo de Clubes and the 1957 Tournoi de Paris. According to a French video record of the highlights of the 1957 Tournoi de Paris final match, between Real Madrid C.F. and CR Vasco da Gama, this was the first match ever dubbed as "the best team of Europe X the best team of South America", before the rise of the Intercontinental Cup. The aforementioned final match of the 1957 Tournoi de Paris, as well as a  Real Madrid C.F. X Santos FC June 1959 friendly match held in Madrid (won by the Spaniards, 5 x 3), were both mentioned as "being like a club world cup  match" by the Brazilian press, on the grounds that those were clashes between the European Champion and the champions of the most important leagues of Brazil.  

Created in 1960 at the initiative of the European confederation (UEFA), with CONMEBOL's support, the European/South American Cup, known also as the Intercontinental Cup, was contested by the holders of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup and the winners of its newly established South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores. FIFA failed to authorise the competition in the 1960s in 1961 prohibiting the competition from taking place unless the participants gave it a "private friendly match" status; however, the competition went on, being endorsed by both UEFA and CONMEBOL all over its history, from 1960 to 2004, and both UEFA and CONMEBOL consider all editions official by including them in their records. It was the brainchild of UEFA president Henri Delaunay, who also helped Jules Rimet in the realization of the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930. Initially played over two legs, with a third match if required in the early years (when goal difference did not count), the competition had a rather turbulent existence. The first winners of the competition were Spanish club Real Madrid. Real Madrid managed to hold Uruguayan side Peñarol 0-0 in Montevideo and trounce the South Americans 5-1 in Madrid to win. After the victory of Real Madrid in the first edition of the Intercontinental Cup, Barcelona newspaper El Mundo Deportivo hailed the Madrid team as the First World Champion Club, on the one hand pointing out that the competition "did not include Africans, Asians and other countries part to FIFA", on the other hand expressing doubt that these regions might present football of the same high quality of Europe and South America. The Spaniards titled themselves world champions until FIFA stepped in and objected; citing that the competition did not include any other champions from the other confederations, FIFA stated that they can only claim to be intercontinental champions of a competition played between two organizations. Peñarol would appear again the following year and come out victorious after beating Portuguese club Benfica on the playoff; after a 1-0 win by the Europeans in Lisboa and a 5-0 trashing by the South Americans, a playoff at the Estadio Centenario saw the home side squeeze a 2-1 win to become the first South American side to win the competition.

In 1962 the tournament grew more in worldwide attention after it was swept through the sublime football of a Santos team led by Pelé, considered by some the best club team of all times. Os Santásticos, also known as O Balé Branco (or white ballet), which dazzled the world during that time and containing stars such as Gilmar, Mauro, Mengálvio, Coutinho, and Pepe, won the title after defeating Benfica 3-2 in Rio de Janeiro and thrashing the Europeans 2-5 in their Estádio da Luz. Santos would successfully defend the title in 1963 after being pushed all the way by Milan. After each side won 4-2 at their respective home legs, a playoff match at the Maracanã saw Santos keep the title after a tight 1-0 victory. The competition had attracted the interest of other continents. The North and Central America condeferation, CONCACAF, had asked, unsuccessfully, to participate. Milan's fierce rivals, Inter Milan, would go on to win the 1964 and 1965 editions, beating Argentine club Independiente on both occasions. Peñarol gain revenge for their loss in 1960 by crushing Real Madrid 4-0 in aggregate in 1966.

Rioplatense violence

However, as a result of the violence often practised in the Copa Libertadores by Argentine and Uruguayan clubs during the 1960s, disagreements with CONMEBOL, the lack of financial incentives and the violent, brutal and controversial way the Brazilian national team was treated in the 1966 FIFA World Cup by European teams, Brazilian football - including its club sides - declined to participate in international competitions in the late 1960s, including the Copa Libertadores and consequently the Intercontinental Cup. During this time, the competition became dogged by foul play. Calendar problems, acts of brutality, even on the pitch, and boycotts tarnished its image, to the point of bringing into question the wisdom of organizing it at all.

The 1967 edition between Argentina's Racing Club and Scotland's Celtic was a violent affair, with the third decisive game being dubbed "The Battle of Montevideo" after three players from the Scottish side and two from the Argentine side were sent off. A fourth Celtic player was also dismissed, but amid the chaos he got away with staying on.

The following season, Argentine side Estudiantes de La Plata faced England's Manchester United in which the return leg saw Estudiantes come out on top of a bad-tempered series. But it was the events of 1969 which damaged the competition's integrity. After a 3-0 win at San Siro, Milan went to Buenos Aires to play Estudiantes at La Bombonera. Estudiantes' players booted balls at the Milan team as they warmed up and hot coffee was poured on the Italians as they emerged from the tunnel by Estudiantes' fans. Estudiantes resorted to inflicting elbows and allegedly even needles at the Milanese team in order to intimidate them. Pierino Prati was knocked unconscious and continued for a further 20 minutes despite suffering from a mild concussion. Estudiantes goalkeeper Alberto Poletti also punched Gianni Rivera, but the most vicious treatment was reserved for Néstor Combin-an Argentinean-born striker, who had faced accusations of being a traitor as he was on the opposite side of the intercontinental match.

Combin was kicked in the face by Poletti and later had his nose and cheekbone broken by the elbow of Ramón Aguirre Suárez. Bloodied and broken, Combin was asked to return to the pitch by the referee but fainted. While unconscious, Combin was arrested by Argentine police on a charge of draft dodging, having not undertaken military service in the country. The player was forced to spend a night in the cells, eventually being released after explaining he had fulfilled national service requirements as a French citizen. Estudiantes won the game 2-1 but Milan took the title on aggregate.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport dubbed it "Ninety minutes of a man-hunt". The Argentinean press responded with "The English were right" - a reference to Alf Ramsey's famous description of the Argentina national football team as "animals" during the 1966 FIFA World Cup. The Argentinean Football Association (AFA), under heavy international pressure, took stern action. Argentina's President, military dictator Juan Carlos Onganía, summoned Estudiantes delegate Oscar Ferrari and demanded "the severest appropriate measures in defence of the good name of the national sport. [It was a] lamentable spectacle which breached most norms of sporting ethics". Poletti was banned from the sport for life, Suárez was banned for 30 games, and Eduardo Manera for 20 with the former and latter serving a month in jail.


Due to the brutality in these editions, FIFA was called into providing penalties and regulating the tournament. However, FIFA stated that it could not stipulate regulations in a competition that it did not organize. Though the competition was endorsed by UEFA and CONMEBOL as an official competition, René Courte, FIFA's General Sub-Secretary, wrote an article shortly afterwards stating that FIFA viewed the competition as a "European-South American friendly match". Courte's statement was endorsed by then FIFA president Sir Stanley Rous, who then stated that FIFA saw the Intercontinental Cup as a friendly match. Madrid newspaper ABC then pointed out that, though the Intercontinental Cup was not officially endorsed by FIFA, it was endorsed by UEFA and CONMEBOL, therefore being an "intercontinental jurisdiction" cup. However, with the Asian and North-Central American club competitions in place, FIFA opened the idea of supervising the competition if it included those confederations, which was met with a negative response from its participating confederations, UEFA and CONMEBOL. According to Stanley Rous, CONCACAF and the Asian Football Confederation had requested their participation in the Intercontinental Cup, which was rejected by UEFA and CONMEBOL. Nevertheless, some European champions started to decline participation in the tournament after the events of 1969.

Estudiantes would face Dutch side Feyenoord the following season, which saw the Europeans victorious. Oscar Malbernat ripped off Joop van Daele's glasses and trampled on them claiming that he was "not allowed to play with glasses". Dutch side Ajax, European champions of 1971, would decline to face Uruguay's Nacional due to the latter side's reputation for violent play, which resulted in European Cup runners-up, Greek side Panathinaikos, participating. Nacional's Luis Artime ended up breaking Yiannis Tomaras' leg in two places in the first leg as Nacional won the series 3-2 on aggregate.

Ajax participated in 1972 against Independiente. The team's arrival at Buenos Aires was extremely hostile: Johan Cruyff received several death threats from Independiente's local fan firms. Due to the indifference from the Argentine police, Ajax manager Ştefan Kovács appointed an organized emergency security detail for the Nederlandse meester, headed by himself and team member Barry Hulshoff, described as a big and burly man. In the first leg, Cruyff opened the scoring in Avellaneda at the 5th minute. As a result, Dante Mircoli retaliated with a vicious tackle a couple of minutes later; Cruyff was too injured to continue and the Dutch team found themselves being assaulted with tackles and punches. Kovács had to convince his team to play on during half-time as his players wanted to withdraw. Ajax squeezed a 1-1 tie and followed up with a 3-0 trounce in Amsterdam to win the Cup. Although Ajax were the defending champions, they again declined to participate a year later after Independiente won the Libertadores again, leaving it to Juventus, European Cup runners-up, to play a single-match final won by the Argentines. That same year, French newspaper L'Equipe, which helped to bring about the birth of the European Cup, volunteered to sponsor a Club World Cup contested by the champions of Europe, South America, Central and North America and Africa, the only continental club tournaments in existence at the time; the competition was to potentially take place in Paris between September and October 1974 with an eventual final to be held at the Parc des Princes. The proposal, supported by the South Americans, was dismissed due to the negativity of the Europeans.

German club Bayern Munich also declined to play in 1974 as Independiente again qualified to participate. European Cup runners-up Atlético Madrid from Spain won the competition 2-1 on aggregate. Once again, Independiente qualified to participate in 1975; this time, both finalists of the European Cup declined to participate and the competition was not played. That same year, L'Equipe tried, once again, to create a Club World Cup, in which the participants would have been: the four semifinalists of the European Cup, both finalists of the Copa Libertadores, as well as the African and Asian champions. However, UEFA declined once again and the proposal failed.

In 1976, when Brazilian side Cruzeiro won the Copa Libertadores, the European champions Bayern Munich willingly participated, with the Bavarians winning 2–0 on aggregate. In an interview with Jornal do Brasil, Bayern's manager Dettmar Cramer denied that Bayern's refusal to dispute the 1974 and 1975 Intercontinental Cups were a result of the rivals being Argentine teams. He claimed it was a scheduling impossibility, rather, which kept the Germans from participating. He also stated that the competition was not economically rewarding due to the team's fan base's disinterest in the Cup. To cover the costs of playing the first leg in Munich's Olympiastadion, the organizers needed to have a minimum of 25,000 spectators. However, due to heavy snow and cold weather, only 18,000 showed up. Because of this deficit, Cramer stated that if Bayern were to win the European Cup again, they would decline to participate as it held no assurances of income.

Argentine side Boca Juniors qualified for the 1977 and 1978 editions, for which the European champions, English club Liverpool, declined to participate on both occasions. In 1977, Boca Juniors defeated European Cup runners-up, German club Borussia Mönchengladbach, 5-2 on aggregate. Boca Juniors declined to face Belgian club Brugge in 1978 leaving that edition undisputed. Paraguay's Olimpia won the 1979 edition against European Cup runners-up, Swedish side Malmö FF, after winning both legs. However, the competition had greatly declined in prestige. After the 0-1 win of the South Americans in the first leg at Malmö, which saw fewer than 5,000 Swedish fans turn up, Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo called the Cup "a dog without an owner".

According to Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the deal for the establishment of the Interamerican Cup was made in 1968 by CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, and established that the Interamerican Cup champion club would be entitled to represent the American continent in the Intercontinental Cup. According to the Mexican newspapers, after winning the 1977 and 1980 editions of the Interamerican Cup, Mexican clubs América and PUMAS Unam, and the Mexican Football Association, demanded, unsuccessfully, to participate in the Intercontinental Cup.

Rebirth in Japan

Seeing the deterioration of the Intercontinental Cup, Japanese motor corporation Toyota took the competition under its wing. It created contractual obligations to have the Intercontinental Cup played in Japan once a year in which every club participating were obliged to participate or face legal consequences. This modern format breathed new air into the competition which saw a new trophy handed out along with the Intercontinental Cup, the Toyota Cup.

To protect themselves against the possibility of European withdrawals, Toyota, UEFA and every European Cup participant signed annual contracts requiring the eventual winners of the European Cup to participate at the Intercontinental Cup, as a condition UEFA stipulated to the clubs' participation in the European Cup, or risk facing an international lawsuit from UEFA and Toyota.

The first Toyota Cup was held in 1980 which saw Uruguay's Nacional triumph over Nottingham Forest. The 1980s saw a domination by South American sides as Brazil's Flamengo and Grêmio, Uruguay's Nacional and Peñarol, Argentina's Independiente and River Plate take the spoils once each after Nacional's victory in 1980. Only Juventus, Porto and Milan managed to bring the trophy to the European continent. In that decade, the English Football Association tried organizing a Club World Cup sponsored by promoting company West Nally only to be shot down by UEFA.

The 1990s proved to be a decade dominated by European teams as Milan, Red Star Belgrade, Ajax, Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester United and newcomers Borussia Dortmund of Germany were fueled to victory by its economic powers and heavy poaching of South American stars. Only three title went to South America as São Paulo and Argentina's Vélez Sársfield came out the winners, each of them defeating Milan with São Paulo's inaugural win being over Barcelona. The 2000s would see Boca Juniors win the competition twice for South America while European victories came from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Porto. The 2004 Intercontinental Cup proved to be the last edition as the competition was absorbed into the FIFA Club World Cup.

De facto club teams' World Championship

All the winning teams are regarded as de facto "world club champions". According to some texts on FIFA.com, due to the superiority at sporting level of the European and South American clubs to the rest of the world, reflected earlier in the tournament for national teams, the winning clubs of the Intercontinental Cup were named world champions and can claim to be world champions, in a "symbolic" club world championship, while the FIFA Club World Cup would have another dimension, as the "true" world club showdown, created because, with the passage of time and the development of football outside Europe and South America, it had become "unrealistic" to continue to confer the symbolic title of world champion upon the winners of the Intercontinental Cup, the idea to expand it being mentioned for the first time in 1967 by Stanley Rous as CONCACAF and the AFC had established their continental club competitions and requested the participation, an expansion that was to occur only in 2000 through the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship. Nevertheless, some European champions started to decline participation in the tournament after the events of 1969. Though "symbolic" or de facto as a club world championship, the Intercontinental Cup is official at confederation level, with both UEFA and CONMEBOL considering all editions of the competition as part of their official honours.

Despite being chronologically the fourth international competition created to define "the best team in the world" after Lipton Trophy, Copa Rio and Pequeña Copa del Mundo due to FIFA's inability to organize club competitions, it is considered by that international governing body as the one of the two predecessors to the FIFA Club World Cup, held for the first time in 2000. It was regarded by FIFA as the sole predecessor until the June 2014 FIFA Executive Committee meeting, which declared the 1951 edition of Copa Rio as "the first worldwide club tournament with teams from Europe and South America".


The competition trophy bears the words "Coupe Européenne-Sudamericaine" ("European-South American Cup") at the top. At the base of the trophy, there is the round logo of UEFA and a map of South America in a circle.

Cup format

From 1960 to 1979, the Intercontinental Cup was played in two legs. Between 1960 and 1968, the cup was decided on points only, the same format used by CONMEBOL to determine the winner of the Copa Libertadores final through 1987. Because of this format, a third match was needed when both teams were equal on points. Commonly this match was host by the continent where the last game of the series was played. From 1969 through 1979, the competition adopted the European standard method of aggregate score, with away goals.

Starting in 1980, the final became a single match. Up until 2001, the matches were held at Tokyo's National Stadium. Finals since 2002 were held at the Yokohama International Stadium, also the venue of the 2002 FIFA World Cup final.


  • After the events of the 1969 Intercontinental Cup, many European Cup Champions refused to play in the Intercontinental Cup.
  • #1 1970–71 European Cup finalists Panathinaikos replaced the champions Ajax who declined to participate.
  • #2 1972–73 European Cup finalists Juventus replaced the champions Ajax who declined to contest the meeting in South America, officially for financial reasons.
  • #3 1973–74 European Cup finalists Atlético Madrid replaced the champions Bayern Munich who declined to participate.
  • #4 1976–77 European Cup finalists Borussia Mönchengladbach replaced the champions Liverpool who declined to participate.
  • #5 1978–79 European Cup finalists Malmö FF replaced the champions Nottingham Forest who declined to participate.
  • #6 1992–93 Champions League finalists Milan replaced the champions Marseille who were suspended due to a match fixing and bribery scandal.
  • Performances

    The performance of various clubs is shown in the following tables:


    List of Intercontinental Cup winning managers

  • Carlos Bianchi won three editions as coach: one with Vélez Sársfield in 1994, and 2 with Boca Juniors in 2000 and 2003.
  • Luis Cubilla and Juan Mujica won cups both as players and coaches:
  • Luis Cubilla (played for Peñarol in 1961 and for Nacional in 1971; then coached Olimpia in 1979)
  • Juan Mujica (played for Nacional in 1971; and coached it in 1980)
  • Players

  • Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini played 5 times in the competition, all with Milan (1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 2003).
  • Estudiantes (1968, 1969 and 1970) and Independiente (1972, 1973 and 1974) played in 3 consecutive years. Of these teams a few players played all the three years, including Carlos Bilardo and Juan Ramón Verón.
  • All-time top scorers

  • Pelé is the all-time top scorer in the competition, having scored 7 goals in 3 matches.
  • In 1962, he scored 5 goals in 2 matches against Benfica, including a hat-trick in the second leg played in Lisbon (the only hat trick in competition's history).
  • In 1963, he scored 2 goals in 1 match (in the first leg played away to Milan).
  • Only 6 players scored at least 3 goals in the Intercontinental Cup.
  • Man of the Match

  • Since 1980:
  • Hat-Tricks

  • Pelé is the only player in the history of the competition to have scored a hat-trick (Lisbon, 1962, second leg, against Benfica).
  • References

    Intercontinental Cup (football) Wikipedia