Why are Toulouse in the Europa League?

Toulouse have participated in European competition five times, including in 2007 when they qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time. They are set to participate in the 2023–24 UEFA Europa League, following their victory in the preceding year’s Coupe de France.

The president of Toulouse FC is Damien Comolli, who succeeded the French businessman Olivier Sadran who took over the club following its bankruptcy in 2001 which resulted in it being relegated to the Championnat National. The club has served as a springboard for several players, most notably the World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, international strikers André-Pierre Gignac and Martin Braithwaite.


The city was left without a big side in 1967 when Toulouse FC sold its players and place in the French top flight to Paris outfit Red Star, but three years later a new club, Union Sportive Toulouse, rose from the ashes. Adopting red and yellow jerseys, the club started out in Ligue 2 and in 1979 reclaimed the name Toulouse FC. Now wearing purple and white, Les Pitchouns gained top-flight promotion in 1982. A side containing Jacques Santini and Swiss forward Daniel Jeandupeux earned a penalty shoot-out victory against Diego Maradona’s Napoli in the 1986–87 UEFA Cup, Toulouse’s maiden European campaign.

Toulouse fans celebrate qualifying for the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League

After goalkeeper Fabien Barthez made his breakthrough and moved on, Toulouse were relegated in 1994. They subsequently bounced back and forth between Ligues 1 and 2 before slipping to the third flight in 2001 after financial problems. Toulouse were back in the top flight two seasons later, and in 2007 they finished third to earn a place in the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. There, Liverpool overpowered them 5–0 on aggregate.

In 2008–09, Toulouse finished fourth in the Ligue 1 table with 64 points, and secured a spot in the new Europa League, while André-Pierre Gignac led all scorers in Ligue 1 with 24 goals and was awarded a call-up to the French national team.

In the 2015–16 Ligue 1 season, Toulouse avoided relegation to Ligue 2 in the last game of the season. With 12 minutes to go, Toulouse were behind to Angers 2–1 and needed a win to survive, and scored two late goals and won the match 3–2. Two years later, they finished 18th and won the promotion/relegation playoff 4–0 on aggregate against Ligue 2’s AC Ajaccio.

On 6 January 2020, Toulouse dismissed manager Antoine Kombouaré following the club’s 1–0 loss to Championnat National 2 side Saint-Pryvé Saint-Hilaire in the Coupe de France. Under Kombouaré the club had lost ten matches in a row, leading him to be dismissed and replaced by Denis Zanko.On 30 April that year, Toulouse were relegated to Ligue 2 after the LFP elected to end the season early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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