Coupe de France
|Number of teams||7,422 (2011–12 season)|
|Current champions||Olympique Lyonnais (5th title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Olympique de Marseille
|Website||FFF – Coupe de France|
|2012–13 Coupe de France|
The Coupe Charles Simon, commonly known as the Coupe de France (French pronunciation: [kup də fʁɑ̃s], French Cup), is the premier knockout cup competition in French football organized by the French Football Federation. The cup competition is named after Charles Simon, a French sportsman who died while serving in World War I and is open to all amateur and professional football clubs in France, including clubs based in the overseas departments and territories. The final is played at the Stade de France and the winner of the Coupe de France qualifies for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. The current champions are Lyon, who defeated Quevilly 1–0 in the final of the 2011–12 competition.
The Coupe de France was first held in 1917–18 and, during the 2007–08 season, celebrated its 90th anniversary. Combined with random draws and one-off matches (no replays), the Coupe de France can be difficult for the bigger clubs to win. The competition is usually beneficial to the amateur clubs as it forces higher-ranked clubs, usually professional clubs, to play as the away team when drawn against lower-league opposition if they are competing two levels below them. However, despite the advantages, only one amateur club has actually reached the final since professionalism was introduced in French football in 1932: Calais RUFC in 2000. Both clubs who have won the competition and were not playing in Ligue 1 were professional, Le Havre in 1959 and Guingamp in 2009. The Coupe de France is managed and run by the Coupe de France Commission, whose president is former French international Jean Djorkaeff.
The Coupe de France was created on 15 January 1917 by the French Interfederal Committee (CFI), an early predecessor of the French Football Federation. The idea was pushed by the federation's general secretary Henri Delaunay and under union sacrée, the competition was declared open to all clubs, amateur and professional, though professionalism in French football at the time was non-existent. The major clubs in France objected to the notion that all clubs should be allowed to enter and preferred the model of the FA Cup in England, which limited the competition to only the country's elite. However, the federation dispelled their complaints and declared the competition would remain as is. Due to the minimal requirements to enter, the first competition featured 48 clubs. By 1948, the number had increased to 1,000 and at present, the competition features more than 7,000 clubs. Due to the initial increase in clubs, the federation created preliminary rounds beginning with the 1919–20 season. The following season, they added a second preliminary round. As of today, the competition contains eight regional rounds with some regions containing as much as ten.
The first Coupe de France victors were Olympique de Pantin who defeated FC Lyon 3–0 at the Stade de la Légion Saint-Michel in Paris in front of 2,000 spectators. The following year, the competition was shifted to the Parc des Princes and drew 10,000 supporters to the final that saw CASG Paris defeat Olympique de Paris 3–2. The competition alternated between many stadiums during its early years playing at the Stade Pershing from 1920–1924 before switching to the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes. The competition lasted a decade there before returning to the Parc des Princes in 1938. In 1941, the final was held at the Stade de Paris. The following year, the final returned to Colombes and remained there until moving to the Parc des Princes permanently following its renovation, which made it the largest in terms of attendance in France.
Since the ratio between amateur and professional clubs in France is extremely one-sided, the competition regularly produces surprises. The best performance by an amateur club in the competition is usually awarded the Petit Poucet Plaque. On 4 February 1957, one of the competition's biggest upsets occurred when Algerian club SCU El Biar defeated European powerhouse Stade de Reims who had players such as Robert Jonquet, Michel Hidalgo, Léon Glovacki, and Just Fontaine in its arsenal. One of the more recent successes of an amateur club occurred during the 1999–2000 competition when Championnat de France amateur club Calais RUFC reached the final. Calais, composed of doctors, dock workers, and office clerks, started the competition in the 5th round and, after defeating fellow amateurs, reached the Round of 64 where they faced Lille. Calais, after 120 minutes, were level 1–1 with Lille and defeated their Northern foes 7–6 on penalties. In the following two rounds, Calais defeated Langon-Castets and Cannes. In the quarter-finals, Calais defeated Strasbourg 2–1 and on 12 April 2000, eclipsed Bordeaux 3–1 in the semi-finals to advance to the final. Calais' road to the final was a prime example of the major advantages amateur clubs had with the club playing all of its matches at home beginning with the Round of 64 match. Unfortunately for Calais, their Cinderella run came to an end in the final with the club losing to Nantes 2–1 despite scoring first.
Professional clubs have continued to express their displeasure with the advantages amateur clubs receive in the competition with many of their complaints being directly associated with their hosting of matches. Coupe de France rules explicitly state that teams drawn first during the draw are granted hosting duties for the round, however, if the club drawn second is competing two levels below the club drawn first, then the hosting duties will be given to the second club drawn. Many clubs have subsequently complained that, due to the amateur clubs not having adequate funds, the stadiums they play in are extremely unkempt. The resulting differences led to the clubs represented by the Ligue de Football Professionnel forming their own cup competition, the Coupe de la Ligue. More recently, amateur clubs have begun to move to more established stadiums for their Coupe de France matches with their primary reason being to earn more money at the gate due to more established stadiums having the ability to carry more spectators.
The winner of the Coupe de France trophy normally holds on to the trophy for one year to put in on display at their headquarters before returning it to the French Football Federation. In the early 1980s, the cup was stolen, but was retrieved by the authorities quickly. Since 1927, the President of France has always attended the cup final and presented the trophy to the winning team's captain. President Gaston Doumergue was the first French president to take part in the ceremony.
Competition format 
Similar to other countries cup competitions, the Coupe de France is a knockout tournament with pairings for each round drawn at random. Each tie is played through a single leg. If a match ends in a draw, extra time is played and if the match is still drawn, penalties are held. Prior to 1967, the competition had no extra time nor penalty shootouts and instead allowed replays, similar to the FA Cup. This style was abandoned following three straight draws between Olympique Lyonnais and amateur club Angoulême CFC, which resulted in the federation flipping a coin to decide which club advanced. For the 1968–69 season, extra time was introduced and, two years later, the penalty shootout was instituted. Following the 1974–75 season, replays were scrapped.
There are a total of 14 rounds in the competition. However, rounds in the competition are determined through each region in France with one of the main reasons being to reduce travel costs. Depending on the region, the number of rounds may vary from four to as many as eight with each region sending a set number of clubs to the 7th round. The regions conduct rounds of matches up until the 7th round when professional clubs enter the competition. All of the clubs are then split and drawn against each other randomly, regardless of regional affiliation. In the overseas departments and territories, territories such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana, and Réunion establish their own knockout competition, similar to the regions in France, though only one club from each region is allowed to enter. Territories like Mayotte, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia allow the winner of their cup competitions to enter the 7th round, such as when AS Mont-Dore won the 2009 edition of the New Caledonia Cup to earn qualification for the 2009–10 Coupe de France.
As well as being presented with the trophy, the winning team also qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. If the winner has already qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the league, the UEFA Europa League place goes to the cup runners-up. If they have also qualified for the UEFA Champions League, the place goes to the next highest placed finisher in the league table.
In Coupe de France matches, players are restricted to wearing the shirt numbers 1–18 regardless of the player's traditional number. The starters are given the numbers 1–11 with each player given a certain number based on his position. However, if a player wears a number between 1–11 domestically, he is allowed to wear that same number in Coupe de France matches unless he is among the substitutes at the start of the match, in which case the number is given to the player that is playing in his position.
The Coupe de France does not have a primary sponsor of the competition, but allows sponsors of the French Football Federation to showcase themselves on club's kits. Among them include SFR, Caisse d'Epargne, Crédit Agricole, Sita-Suez, and Carrefour.
Olympique de Marseille have the honor of having won the most Coupe de France titles, winning ten, with their most recent coming during the 1988–89 season following their 4–3 victory over Monaco. Marseille also have appeared in the most finals having played in 18. Marseille are notable in terms of losing in the competition as they are one of four clubs who have suffered two consecutive finals defeats, as the southern coast club lost to Paris Saint-Germain in 2006 and then to Sochaux the following season. Marseille are the only club of the four to lose consecutive Coupe de France finals twice. Paris Saint-Germain are second behind Marseille having won seven Coupe de France titles. The Parisian club are also the only club to have won both the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue in the same season having accomplished this in 1995 and 1998. Many clubs have won the league and cup double, the most recent being Lille who completed their double after defeating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the 2011 final.
Due to the early dominance of Parisian clubs during the early run of the competition and along with PSG's consistency, the Île-de-France region has the most Coupe de France champions having produced 23. The region is followed by Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur with Marseille being the region's most successful club.
Managers Guy Roux and André Cheuva share the honor of having managed four Coupe de France winning clubs. The most successful players are Dominique Bathenay, Alain Roche, and Marceau Sommerlynck who all won five titles. Éric Pécout of Nantes and Jean-Pierre Papin are joint top-scorers of the competition final having each converted a hat trick in their only appearances in the ultimate match. In 1947, Roger Vandooren scored the fastest goal in final's history converting after 29 seconds for his club Lille in their 2–0 win over Strasbourg.
Media coverage 
The Coupe de France currently has a broadcasting agreement with France Télévisions, the French public national television broadcaster, and Eurosport. The French Football Federation reached an agreement with the broadcasters on 25 January 2010 agreeing to a four-year deal worth €4 million a season. The Coupe de France final will be televised on France 2, the broadcaster's main channel. Abroad, the Coupe de France has an agreement with the Irish broadcaster Setanta Sports. The channel broadcasts the competition in Canada, Australia, Africa (select countries), and the United Kingdom.
Coupe de France winners 
- "La Coupe de France fête sa rentrée". French Football Federation (in French). 15 September 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
- FFF gets sponsorship boost as PMU comes on board
- France Télévisions and Eurosport to screen Coupe de France
- Official page on FFF site
- Coupe de France page on LFP site
- Coupe de France Fixtures,Results and Detailed Statistics (English)
- League321.com - National cup results. (English)