Should the Euro Field Be Expanded?

These guys might be going home early.

As the resident South American footie blogger here, I considered interrupting our ongoing coverage of Euro 2012 (“June Jubilation”?) with some longwinded claptrap about Tango Ball or whatnot, but ultimately decided against that. You’re all wrapped up in this Euro thing and I’ll admit, I am too.

So the question in the title of this post comes from a simple review of the four groups in the tournament and the realization that they’re all pretty tight. Meaning there are few groups with a clearcut frontrunner. I was wondering, why does UEFA only have 16 teams in the Euro finals?

There are fifty-something associations in UEFA, so you would think the field could at least be expanded to 24 teams (6 groups of 4 teams, with a round of 16). That would ensure more of the “candidate” teams get through to the next round. Look at Group B, the “Group of Death”. One of either Germany, Holland, or Portugal will be going home after the group stage, and Denmark has no chance whatsoever. But wouldn’t you expect to see Germany, Holland, and Portugal in the knockout stages? All three countries usually make the knockout stage of the World Cup.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to expand it to 32 teams. Nobody wants to see a Euro version of the World Cup featuring teams like Malta and the Faroe Islands. However, 11 of the 16 teams at Euro 2012 are in the top 15 of FIFA’s world ranking table. Seems a shame that at least three of them are doomed to a group stage exit.

I’m not trying to upset tradition here, either. If the Euro finals have always been 16 teams and don’t mess with it, fine. I also think it does make the group stage pretty exciting. But are there some good teams on the outside looking in? Belgium, perhaps?

Throw me your two cents in the comments.

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3 responses to “Should the Euro Field Be Expanded?

  1. Isn’t the point of endless qualifying matches to whittle the field down to the top 16? Luck of the draw means that there will likely always be weak groups and a group of death. I would think that a more amicable solution would be to rank and seed the group of 16 similar to the NCAA b-ball tourney.

  2. I hate the endless qualifying. Probably because in South America, everyone qualifies for the Copa America. There’s only 10 countries.

    I have heard rumors of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL joining up to turn the Copa America into a larger tournament a la Euros. It’ll probably never happen, though.

  3. I think that this format of only 16 teams makes the groups stage that much more exciting because you have so many good teams. The tournament hits the ground running instead of having David vs. Goliath group stage games where you kinda know who is going to win. But those rumors of making a bigger Copa America is intriguing because the Gold Cup is pretty boring.

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