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UEFA backs decision for 24-team Euro in 2016
Reuters, June 22nd, 2012 3:46PM

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TAGS:  european championship

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Expanding the European Championship to 24 teams won't spoil the tournament, UEFA's tournament director Martin Kallen insists.

The Euro 2012 group stage with 16 teams went down to the wire as favorites Spain and Germany only squeezed through in their last game, so the worry is that Euro 2016 with 24 teams in France will not be as closely contested. Adding more teams will also increase the number of matches from 31 to 51.

UEFA president Michel Platini defended the decision to expand earlier this week but reporters pressed Kallen on the issue.

"At the moment we have the best teams here, but there are great teams who are not," he said, listing Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovenia and Norway as examples. "The Scots are also not here -- they bring a lot of emotions, a lot of atmosphere with them. We need to see how 2016 will be. For sure, this tournament will be more and more looked at because more nations can participate."

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2 comments
  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 23, 2012 at 7:22 a.m.
    Thank you. I've been waiting for this topic to arise. Well, just how exactly will 24 countries vying for the 2016 tournament title in France, how will this make the 16 months of pre tournament qualifying a challenge or riveting drama? I mean, only 55 European countries competing for 23 slots (France as host is assured) -- this hardly spells a very competitive series of qualifying games when one considers that San Marino, Malta, Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, and Lichtenstein are in the mix, too. The dullness factor and radio of 7/8 in the first round of this Euro 2012 will be magnified even more with teams like Lithuania or Slovakia showing up in June 2016. (Do note that no Eastern European team is still in the competition. Why is this not a banner headline?) Norway? Bulgaria? Romania? No way. None of them in their present state merit more than a big yawn. The only two countries not here that would be better to see are Belgium and Switzerland. Possibly Austria. I'd rather see any of these three than the Greek or Irish teams. (Please keep the Irish fans, though. Leave the Eire team behind, but the Irish fans are all quite good -- and necessary.) Having 24 teams means at least one more game on the road to the final. Watching slow, weary-looking French, English, Spanish, German, and Dutch players, I am not sure how this enchances the caliber of the tournament. But, silly me, I try to consider quality of play. UEFA has their eyes on the ball, or rather the money. This is all about more money for UEFA's fat cats.

  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 23, 2012 at 7:31 a.m.
    It is supposed to be a high privilege and honor for a team to reach the finals -- after what is supposed to be a trying and grueling set of qualifying. Hard to label anything as 'grueling' when half the competing teams go through to the finals. This schematic for Euro 2016 will flop; it will manifest itself as the farce that it is. Presently teams like Poland, Ukraine, the Czechs, Greece, Ireland...we really can say that watching them has not exactly been football worth viewing. Even France's latest display leaves one wondering. Russia was only really good in their first game. The tournament is already diluted enough with a final field of 16.


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