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UEFA explores expanding European Championship to 32 teams


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UEFA explores expanding European Championship to 32 teams

LONDON (AP) — Buoyed by the success of this year’s European Championship, UEFA is exploring whether to expand the event again to create a 32-team tournament.

The review of the format comes as the bidding process is being put in place for Euro 2028 with a decision on the hosting set to come by the end of 2023.

It was only in 2016 that the tournament jumped from 16 to 24 teams. But UEFA is starting to analyze the feasibility of 32 of its 55 member nations contesting the European Championship from 2028, people with knowledge of the process told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private discussions.

There would be a knock-on effect for qualifying if UEFA went ahead with adding eight teams. The format would have to be overhauled or scrapped since more than half of the countries making the final cut would further diminish the value and interest in the existing structure where the continent’s teams are split into 10 groups.

Even with 24 teams now reaching the final tournament, the current pathway creates lopsided games that lack appeal to elite sides whose qualification would be a near-certainty and are less attractive commercially and to fans.

Euro 2020 finalist England scored 12 goals and conceded only one in two qualifiers against Montenegro. Italy, England’s opponent in Sunday’s final, played Liechtenstein in qualifying and won 6-0 and 5-0.

The option of pre-qualifying tournaments to weed out weaker nations has been floated, as is used in Asia and North America for their continental competitions.

UEFA could build on the early popularity of the new Nations League competition that splits teams into sections based on their rankings, ensuring more tightly-contested games that would be more appealing to broadcasters. Ultimately, it could replace the European Championship qualifying system while configured to ensure leading nations still have a clear route to the finals.

A reason to expand from 24 to 32 teams is also to smooth out the format at the final tournament.

With 16 teams from 1996-2012, the top two from the four groups advanced to the quarterfinals. The insertion of a round of 16 from Euro 2016 featured the top two from the six groups and the four best third-place teams. That has meant Switzerland, for example, having to wait around after its final group games at Euro 2016 to discover if it has advanced.

A 32-team European Championship would reduce that jeopardy further in the group stage. It would be unlikely France, Germany and Portugal would be drawn together like at Euro 2020 — they still all advanced.

Expanding the competition would see UEFA follow the path of FIFA, which is enlarging the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from 2026. A review of the qualification process for tournaments comes as FIFA oversees the configuration of a new international match calendar for men’s soccer after 2024, featuring the slots when domestic clubs have to release players.

While there are sporting reasons to make tournaments bigger, it also helps the governing body leaders appeal to the nations who vote them into office and would see their chances of qualifying increase.

There is no clear timeline of when UEFA could decide on expanding the European Championship. Italy, which last hosted a major tournament in 1990 when the World Cup was there, has been considered a potential Euro 2028 bidder but its stadiums would require significant investment to be upgraded to cope with even a 24-team event.

Russia has the infrastructure in place after investing vast amounts ahead of hosting the 2018 World Cup. Turkey could return with another bid after missing out on 2012 and 2016, and proving accommodating with UEFA’s need to take the Champions League final away from Istanbul in 2020 and again this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://apnews.com/article/euro-2020-sports-soccer-international-soccer-world-cup-3e329fdaaf5d6817443e5beeec8639ab

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Way too many teams but 32 teams at least make a better format than 24.

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Was just about to post about this. Seems too many, it would be more than half the teams qualifying and some really poor quality games in the Group Stage. On the other hand, appearing at the Finals would be big for some of the smaller nations and possibly help them improve the standards of their team, with players being on the biggest platform to get spotted by top clubs. There's pros and cons but I'm not really in favour of it.

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24 is already too many, but 32 wouldn't be much worse because of the current system.

3 teams going through is awful, most groups have been really boring.

32 would be boring, too, but at least some minnows would experience a big competition.

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32 games, as expected. More money, more games.

I am back to my Iron Curtain FM20 game. Much more fun watching an 8 team European Championship unfold :)

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Qualifying for a tournament should actually be an achievement instead the minority missing out.

Should really go back to 16 teams but increasing it to 32 would be much better than having third place sides go through.

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2 minutes ago, bestbrother said:

32 teams :D

Just get to the point where we invite clubs, saves all this pussy footing around keeping a slot open for the Isle of Man.

Make it 24 European teams and hand out invites like Copa America. :thup:

4 from South America, 2 from Africa, one from Asia and Australia.

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2 minutes ago, GunmaN1905 said:

Make it 24 European teams and hand out invites like Copa America. :thup:

4 from South America, 2 from Africa, one from Asia and Australia.

So a shittier World Cup then?

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1 minute ago, bestbrother said:

16 teams was fine, it kept it elite... 24 dilutes it but i get it. 32 is a farce

Imo, the Nations League f-ed it up.

24 is borderline decent if everyone qualifies on merit.

As great as it was to see Macedonia or Finland in the tournament, they shouldn't be able to qualify like this.

Even Scotland.

It's like if League 1 champion qualified for EL2.

  

Just now, Weezer said:

So a shittier World Cup then?

I thought my sarcasm was obvious. :lol:

Edited by GunmaN1905
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4 minutes ago, kpain16 said:

So basically the only teams not qualifying are gonna be San Marino, Andorra, ... Serbia.

Don't forget Bosnia, Montenegro and Slovenia. :brock:

Edited by GunmaN1905
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If the rankings on my FM save are anything to go by then if we allow the top 32 teams into the Euros we can look forward to the delights of Greece v Belarus and Georgia v Albania in the group stages.

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Behave, Uefa.

Since they got sympathy for the whole Super League debacle, they've shot themselves in the foot so many times, they must be running low on bullets.

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32 teams and an extra knockout round is probably better than third place qualifies bollocks. Though if more than half of UEFA nations participate you might as well abolish qualifying and just let the winning lower tier Nations League nations play off against the losing middle tier ones 

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47 minutes ago, The Amazing Dale Watkins said:

No no no no no no no! Get it back down to 16 ffs

 

We should make a Copa América with 32 teams. :D 

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1 hour ago, Constantine said:

32 teams and Serbia still won't qualify...

Don't worry, you can always count on your neighbours to be equally bad. :D

We've nearly made a complete mess out of a group with Hungary, Finland, Northern Ireland, Greece and Feroe Islands back in the qualifiers for Euro 2016.

Edited by Marius_R
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  • SI Staff

Said the other day in another thread I thought this was likely to happen. 

Probably a qualifying structure like this (+ up to 4 hosts?):

12 teams from League A, 8 from League B, 4 from League C and a playoff of 4 from League C vs 4 from League D for the final spots (adjusted for number of hosts). 

Don't mind it too much but there is a big risk of a fair few sides in for a hiding at a major tournament. 

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You failed to grasp the joke, mate. 

They always have a really good set of players but usually fail to qualify for anything.

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I have a lot of comments from broadsheet journalists on podcasts along the lines of "Finland and North Macedonia haven't stunk the place out, so 8 more teams of similar quality is fine"

They forget that 8 more teams means a much greater proportion of matches being Austria vs Iceland or Slovakia vs Greece, great for their fans but not so great for the neutral.

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11 minutes ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

I don't get the 3rd place being a problem thing. You dilute the competition even more those third place teams are only going to be second place in some other group.

Win your first game by a decent score and you're probably already through, even if the other sides are motivated to beat you is the problem with third place qualifying.

Would rather see sides have to get results against Norway, Greece or Luxembourg than teams than qualify without really having to try, or qualifying with two defeats and a negative goal difference

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Here is my prediction.

Fifa already approved a 48 team tournament set to start in 2026.

Uefa moves in 2028 to 32 team tournament. it is 58% of all Europe that qualifies to the euros. Making it the qualifying easier I guess.

Fifa in a few years will approve a 64 type tournament (16 groups of 4). it means that qualifying phase be finish in less games and need less time to doing it.

What I'm getting at is... that I see all of this moving towards the 2 year cycle for both World Cup and Euros. This is been the plan for quite sometime (2016 or 2013 or earlier). it is not a coincidence that this expansion announcement info comes a just a few days (more recent with FIFA going to do a study of 2 year cycle). They are expanding not only to appease smaller nations, but also money wise, and also being in a 2 year cycle, makes double the frequency that nations can qualify to a major tournament. You may ask, why are they doing this small upgrades and why not make one big change altogether and be done with it. Well because most humans are resistance to drastic changes. Doing quickly it could have the amount of backlash like the European Super league had. This way what FIFA and UEFA and other confederations are doing is slowly making people getting use to 2 year cycle and more teams in tournament. Now wonder that people are saying it is better a 32 team tournament then 24 team tournament. the same for the World Cup for the 64  team tournament.

I have to say, guys... welcome to the future. :P

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3 hours ago, oche balboa said:

IF this was to happen, They may has well combined the Nations League and have that as a qualifier for the Euros and ditch the Euros Qualifying which will be slightly better for the calendar

That sounds like a decent plan actually (for a mod that is).

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  • SI Staff
2 hours ago, grade said:

What I'm getting at is... that I see all of this moving towards the 2 year cycle for both World Cup and Euros

Think thats where the Nations Leagues come in, which have been successful in their own right (compared to QF groups anyway) and would tie in nicely to qualifying for tournaments. 

Hosts might still get a regular round of fixtures and competition rather than a bunch of friendlies. 

But I think if it was every 2 years it would dilute some of the achievement of winning a World Cup or a Euros for me if it were to happen. 

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That would probably be too many. I dislike it when I'm reading books covering the history of the World Cup and the author (Brian Glanville in particular) moans about the dilution of quality when it expanded from 16 to 24 teams, even if the expansion of representation from some continents was surely a good thing, along with how 16 teams seemed too restrictive in an age where far more nations were eligible than in the 30's or 50's. Maybe it's because it's what I'm used to but 32 for the World Cup and 16 for the Euros seems about right. 24 is ok, and I think some one made the point at the time of the last Euros that adding the next 8 teams in line to qualify to make 32 wouldn't have made the quality much worse but that would still be far too large a proportion of teams.

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Just do away with qualifying altogether at this rate.

No qualifiers then during the league seasons, means domestic leagues can be played over a shorter period, then just have the Euros with every country involved over 7/8 weeks...

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4 hours ago, Lucas said:

Said the other day in another thread I thought this was likely to happen. 

Probably a qualifying structure like this (+ up to 4 hosts?):

12 teams from League A, 8 from League B, 4 from League C and a playoff of 4 from League C vs 4 from League D for the final spots (adjusted for number of hosts). 

Don't mind it too much but there is a big risk of a fair few sides in for a hiding at a major tournament. 

One proposal I've seen is:

League A:

12 automatic tournament qualifying spots (1st to 3rd each group)

4 playoff spots (4th place each group)

League B:

8 automatic tournament qualifying spots (1st and 2nd each group)

6 playoff spots (3rd place each group and two best 4th place teams)

League C:

4 automatic tournament qualifying spots (1st place each group)

4 playoff spots (2nd place each group)

League D:

0 automatic tournament qualifying spots

2 playoff spots (1st place each group)

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