Hey UEFA, leave them finals alone!
As someone once famously said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
They were not talking about the finals of the European Championship at the time, but the phrase certianly applies. UEFA, under pressure it must be said from some of their 53 member associations, are weighing up the pros and cons of expanding the Euros to either a 20 or 24-team tournament.
I think that would be totally wrong.
The current 16-team championship is the perfect size and the perfect format. And 31 matches in three weeks should be enough to satiate the appetite of even the most desperate of fans.
As we all know, the competition format is simple and logical and because just the top two advance teams have to come and attack.
Add another four or eight teams and we get into the complicated nonsense we had to endure in the 24-team World Cups from 1982 to 1994 because it’s not easy to reduce 24 teams to a 16-team knockout stage. Defensive, cagey football, from teams who shouldn’t be in the finals in the first place will damage the event.
UEFA must make a decision on whether to expand the tournament or not by the end of the year because they have to invite bids from countries interested in staging the 2016 finals and prospective bidders need to know if they will be hosting a 16, 20 or 24 team event.
If it is 24 that would mean nearly half of UEFA’s members would be playing in the finals.
But why stop there? Why not get all 53 teams to play against each other in a competition that takes about two years to complete and comprises about 300 matches.
Oh sorry, that’s what the qualifiers for the finals are for.
PHOTO: Miroslav Klose outjumps Cristiano Ronaldo to score in Basel, June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi