This season's UEFA Cup – the last before the competition becomes the revamped UEFA Europa League next term – is reflecting Europe's football diversity and the highly competitive nature of the game here.
In his address at the last-ever UEFA Cup draw ceremony in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday – for the 2008/09 quarter-finals and semi-finals – UEFA General Secretary David Taylor spoke of the UEFA Cup as "the most European and geographically widespread of all our club competitions. Nowhere was this all-encompassing geographical spread more reflected than in the nationality of the clubs participating in the last round. Ten different countries represented in the last 16, quite a widespread representation of today's modern-day Europe."
Mr Taylor also welcomed the excitement and drama of the Round of 16 matches. "None of the ties were over by the end of the first leg," he said, "which just goes to show the competitiveness at this level right across Europe. What is also pleasing from UEFA's point of view is that these matches were played out in a true spirit of respect – something that we have been promoting heavily throughout this current season. UEFA therefore expects the clubs here today to continue to compete in that same spirit of respect and deliver the best possible example to today's youngsters watching their favourite sport."
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