Euro 2020 concluded Sunday as Italy defeated England following a penalty shoot-out in the final at Wembley Stadium in London. The national team tournament moved from 16 to 24 teams for France’s staging in 2016, and the Associated Press news agency, citing people with knowledge of the process, said a move to 32 teams is being considered for the 2028 event onwards.
This will be assessed through a review of the format ahead of the bidding process for Euro 2028, the next edition of the tournament to which hosting rights are available after Germany clinched Euro 2024 in September 2018.
The addition of an ex
tra eight teams to the Euros would likely necessitate a substantial overhaul of the current qualifying process, with over half of Uefa’s 55 member nations being granted a spot in the finals.
Meanwhile, Čeferin has said he will not back a repeat of the hosting model instigated by his predecessor, Michel Platini. Looking back on Euro 2020 as a whole, Čeferin said the tournament had placed a strain on both players and fans from having games spread across Europe.
“I would not support it anymore,” he told BBC Sport. “In a way, it is not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000km while others have to only travel 1,000km.
“It is not fair to fans, who had to be in Rome one day and in Baku over the next few, which is a four-and-a-half-hour flight. We had to travel a lot, into countries with different jurisdictions, different currencies, countries in the European Union (EU) and non-EU, so it was not easy.
“It was a format that was decided before I came (into the post) and I respect it. It is an interesting idea but it is hard to implement and I don’t think we will do it again.”
Platini had proposed that Euro 2020 be held in cities across the continent to mark the 60th birthday of the tournament. Uefa’s Executive Committee in September 2014 chose 13 host cities, but this plan changed even before Covid-19 struck.
In December 2017, it was decided that Wembley would stage additional Euro 2020 matches after Uefa stripped hosting rights from Brussels. Uefa said the decision was made by its Executive Committee after the proposed Eurostadium project in the Belgian capital, which ultimately was aborted, failed to meet conditions imposed.
With this in mind, a fast-track process was started to develop a replacement option. Uefa said these options were Stockholm, Sweden and Cardiff, Wales – both candidates from the original bidding process for Euro 2020. However, it added that Wembley, which had secured the main semi-finals and final hosting package, was the only current host with availability to host all the matches that should be played in Brussels.
With Covid-19 taking hold across the planet, Uefa in March 2020 decided to postpone Euro 2020 by 12 months in a bid to help domestic competitions across Europe be completed. The move was echoed by the rescheduling of South America’s Copa América national team tournament, which ultimately concluded on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At this point, the logistical challenges of staging a major sporting event across multiple countries during a pandemic became even greater, with Uefa staging a series of meetings earlier this year in order to come to a final hosting strategy that met its goal of allowing as many fans to attend games as possible.
This process concluded on April 23, as Uefa announced that Bilbao and Dublin had been stripped of hosting rights, with the former’s matches transferred to Seville and the latter’s fixtures moved to Saint Petersburg and London.
European football’s governing body also confirmed that Munich’s Allianz Arena had retained its host status. Munich, Bilbao and Dublin were the three Euro 2020 host cities that had yet to provide Uefa with assurances over their fan attendance plans, and the latter two were ultimately dropped from the hosting plan amid continued doubts over their ability to welcome supporters.
Looking back on the tournament as a whole, Čeferin said on Friday: “It has been a special Euros, for sure. I will remember it as the beginning of normality and the return of fans.
“I have never seen a dramatic Euros like this one, with great matches and surprising results. Our health protocols are extremely tough, and everyone is tested, even those who have been vaccinated. I was tested 76 times.
“The teams are highly professional and they all respect the bubble system. Also, in the stadiums, we are very strict and when I see politicians saying people were infected at the matches, without any proof, it disappoints me a bit.
“Some say 2,000 Scottish fans were infected, but the Scottish fans who went to the match (against England at Wembley) were tested. There were also 20,000 who came to London without tickets. You are not tested in the (fan) park, but to accuse all football of spreading the virus is irresponsible in my opinion.”
Originally published by SportBusiness.