UEFA running big risk with Euro expansion

September 26, 2008

Franz Beckenbauer’s announcement that the European Championship finals will feature 24 teams instead of 16 from 2016 must have been welcomed by fans of countries that have found it difficult to qualify for recent major tournaments.

But as my colleague Mike Collett argued during Euro 2008, UEFA is running a big risk by trying to fix something that is not broken.

Mike wrote:

As we all know, the competition format (as it stands) is simple and logical and because just the top two advance (from each group) 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.

Euro 2008 was a great tournament and you have to wonder if this expansion is just going to dilute the experience. It’s hard to imagine it actually improving things.

More underdogs might produce more surprises and make it that much more difficult for the likes of Spain and Germany to reach the final as they did rather predictably in Euro 2008. On the other hand, very few people, if any, want to see an additional eight teams just make up the numbers.

What do you think? Is UEFA about to ruin the world’s best football tournament? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

9 comments

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If they have to increase it, increase it by an amount that will keep qualifying from the group stages simple and logical (i.e. top 2 go to the knockout stages).

Posted by Hans Moman | Report as abusive

If it ain’t broke, break it.

Posted by Lauder | Report as abusive

I agree the Euro is competitively, probably, a better tournament than the World Cup. This is a step to water it down tremendously. It’s financially driven, and incredibly short-sighted.

http://startingeleven.blogspot.com/2008/ 09/jack-chloe-and-24-teams-in-euro.html

The obvious downside is that in the probale format of six groups with four teams each, four third-placed teams will advance to the last 16. That system produced an absolutely dreadful World Cup finals in Italy 1990 and it quite simply devalues a top-place finish in the group stage.
The upside is that teams that keep missing out narrowly on the finals now have a great chance of getting there and proving they deserve UEFA’s generousity.

Agreed – it seems to be a ploy from Uefa to increase the revenue from such a tournament. It causes problems with both the group stages – with potential for cheating and match-fixing – and finding eight extra nations of satisfactory quality. Euro 2008 was the best tounrament in recent memory – why change format?

http://www.footballingworld.com/2008/09/ 26/euros-expansion-threatens-to-lower-qu ality-threshold-0105/

Posted by Feverpitch | Report as abusive

Euro 2008 was great for “connoisseurs”, but England were not there. And that will have whacked down the TV revenues, significantly. Switching to 24 countries reduces the risk of the rich nations – the profitable nations – not making the cut. And why would it be “good” if England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy or Holland had a nightmare in qualifying and were replaced by, er, Croatia? The purists want Bulgaria? Meh.

Posted by Bored with Football | Report as abusive

Why don’t UEFA just go the full-hog and have an European Championship with every single European team in it!
That way, no team will ever ‘miss out’ on the competition.

Posted by Bloginoffskiov | Report as abusive

UEFA wants to make more money. But the players will have a longer football season. Not enough of rest before a new club season starts. Look at the Spainish heroes, they are jadded at the beginning of this new season.

Posted by Croco Dog | Report as abusive

Although I support a team that will probably benefit from this move, I agree that it dilutes what is, at the moment, a very enjoyable tournament. It all comes down to money, though, and bigger is better in that regard.

Posted by Scotland Fan | Report as abusive