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.