Background on the Intertoto Cup

By Søren Florin Elbech

Internationaler Fussball-Cup/Coupe Internationale de Football

The man behind the Intertoto Cup was Karl Rappan. He was born in Vienna on 26th September, 1905 and played for Admira Wacker, Rapid and Austria Vienna. In the late 1920'ies he was capped 4 times for Austria. Hereafter he became professinal in Switzerland, where he played for Servette Geneva and Grasshoppers.

His skills gave him the opportunity to coach the Swiss National Team for the World Cup 1938 in France. In connection with this, global tournament, Karl Rappan established the contacts, that later helped him realize the Intertoto-Cup.

It was at the World Cup, that Karl Rappan got his reputation as a "Miracle Man", when Switzerland defeated first Portugal in the qualifying round and second - sensationally - Germany after play-off, before Hungary, that won silver in the tournament, ended the Swiss success. Even two weeks prior to the World Cup, Switzerland defeated England in a friendly.

This was not conincidental. At the 1954 World Cup finals, in Switzerland, Karl Rappan took the home side through to the quaterfinals where it lost to Austria in what is still today the most high scoring pattern in the World Cup finals, as Austria won 7:5!

Not only these results, Karl Rappan was respected and admired. Being the inventor of the "Verrou-defence" or the "Swiss Bolt" system as it was called, Rappan instigated a major tactical innovation which saw the initial use of a free man in defence, along the lines of a sweeper.

Alfredo Foni, coach of Internazionale in Milan, immidiately used the "Swiss Bolt" in his team, and in 1953 and -54 Inter won "Il Scudetto" primarely thanks to the innovative system.

Karl Rappan dreamed of creating a European League, and his agitation took him to Austria, both the Federal and Democratic Republics of Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. The reactions were encouraging, but Rappan needed somebody to finance the idea.

Ernst Thommen, treasurer of the "Schweizerischer Fussballverband" in 1938, when Rappan took over as coach for the National Team, became in the 1950'ies Managing Director for the Swiss Football Pool. Economy was not a problem in his mind, but so was the approval from UEFA.

And he was right. First, UEFA did not approve of the tournament, as the games were played only to settle bets. Karl Rappan and Ernst Thommen then responded, that they did not want UEFA to run the Intertoto Cup. They just wanted the official approval to arrange the tournament themselves.

In 1961, UEFA approved. At that time, Ernst Thommen had become Vice President of FIFA, and the German, Herman Neuberger, supported the idea.

From 1961 to 1966 groupwinners met in a play-off to settle a final winner of the tournament. As from 1967 the play-offs were abandoned due to difficulties with finding dates to play the games.

The Intertoto Cup therefore has become unique in the way that no team can win the tournament, curiously enough for football pools!


  • Ahlstr, Frits, Guiness Fodboldbog, Forlaget Komma, 1983
  • Oliver, Guy, The Guiness Book of World Soccer, 2nd Edition, Guiness Publishing, 1995
    Prepared by Søren Florin Elbech

    By UEFA

    The UEFA Intertoto Cup competition is perhaps unique in sport in that there is no final, there is no one winner and there is no trophy.The competition was originally conceived in 1961 as a means of generating money for football pools companies in the summer closed season, but has since evolved into an alternative qualifying route into the UEFA Cup. The Intertoto Cup came under UEFA jurisdiction in 1995 with the two 'winners' gaining entry into the First Round proper of the UEFA Cup, and it aimed to allow clubs that do not normally take part in UEFA's three major club competitions to sample the unique experience that European competition brings and to provide an attractive fixture list between June and August,. It is open to clubs who finished directly behind the qualifiers from domestic championships for UEFA's three major club competitions. The first such competition was held in 1995 under a league format with 60 teams in twelve groups participating. The group winners and four best runners-up advanced to the First Round proper. Ultimately, two French sides RC Strasbourg and FC Girondins de Bordeaux qualified as 'winners' for the UEFA Cup.Bordeaux immediately illustrated the potential of the competition as they subsequently advanced to the 1995/96 UEFA Cup final, playing a total of 20 European matches in the process in that season. The French side, which featured Zinedine Zidane, Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry, commenced their season on July 7, 1995 with a 6-2 victory over IFK Norrköping and ended it on May 15, 1996 with a UEFA Cup final defeat to FC Bayern München. The 1996 competition format was altered slightly, with only the twelve group winners advancing to the knockout phase. In addition, UEFA offered another place in the UEFA Cup, so that three 'winners' would advance. Karlsruher SC, En Avant Guigamp and Silkeborg IF ultimately triumphed. None of the three came close to emulating the achievement of Bordeaux, however, with only Karlsruher, subsequently knocked out in the Third Round, getting beyond the First Round of the UEFA Cup.   The same format applied again in 1997 when French dominance was re-asserted. Indeed, four French clubs advanced to the 'finals'. Olympique Lyonnais triumphed over Montpellier Hérault SC 4-2 in the all-Gallic clash. SEC Bastia, meanwhile, overcame Halmstads BK, while AJ Auxerre prevailing 2-0 over MSV Duisburg. Auxerre's consequent UEFA Cup campaign invited comparisons with Bordeaux two seasons before, as they reached the quarter-final stage. Guy Roux's side, who scored 24 goals in the Intertoto Cup itself, defeated R. Antwerp, Nea Salamis FC, Ards FC, Torpedo Moscow, MSV Duisburg, Deportivo La Coruña, OFI Crete and FC Twente before succumbing to eventual runners-up SS Lazio.

    Prepared by UEFA

    Maintained by Pawel Mogielnicki