Should UEFA expand the Euro field?

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Euro 2012 has been one of the more intense, entertaining international tournaments in recent memory, with each game carrying loads of significance and each group coming down to the final day of group play.

Even with the 16-team format providing such a strong competition — and groups containing multiple world powers, making for high drama — UEFA is poised to expand the tournament field to 24 teams in 2016, something that UEFA president Michel Platini has conceded "will be less dramatic" in the group stage.

In comments made Monday, Platini offered that the 24-team field in France in four years would incorporate a 16-team knockout round, meaning that two-thirds of the teams would get out of the group stage as opposed to the half that do now.

"Twenty-four (teams) is OK…I think it's OK. Eight good teams to add. It's not a problem of quality," Platini told reporters. "It's very important for the (additional) countries that qualify. It is good for the national associations and their development."

What do you think, should UEFA expand the Euro field to 24 teams? Cast your vote after the jump:

 

 

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How did you vote? Do you like the tournament format as it is? Do you think a 24-team Euro tournament will provide less quality? What do you make of Platini's comments? What do you think the biggest byproduct would be of an expanded field?

Share your thoughts below.

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56 Responses to Should UEFA expand the Euro field?

  1. TheFrenchOne says:

    I don’t like any format that allows almost half (24 out of 53) of the teams to make it to the tournament. yes, i know MLS follows that ratio …

  2. ec says:

    Ugh. Just watch Ireland play – please, please don’t add 8 more teams of this quality. Also, let’s have the qualifying process count for something. It’s GOOD for big teams to occasionally have to sweat getting in, you ruin the drama of qualifying too if you let everyone in, not just making the tournament worse.

  3. Joe from El Paso says:

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  4. Mike says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Platini’s assessment that increasing the field would allow for better national team development. While that may be a point of focus for the governing body, using the finals of the European Championships is not the proper place to implement such a tactic.

    There have been some very poor performances from several teams in the tournament thus far. Ireland clearly did not belong, and they are a scrappy side.

    Although if we’re talking about Montenegro being allowed in, I think they should always be allowed to play England.

  5. Benny says:

    It’s fine the way it is.

  6. Dimidri says:

    The current system is silly, but not necessarily because of the 16 team format. The fact there was a group of death as hard as there was wasn’t as much a product of the 16 team field as it was the ridiculous seeding process UEFA uses when there are co-hosts. Co-hosts get automatic qualification, home support, intimate knowledge of the playing facilities, AND pot 1 seeding. I’m fine with the first 3, those are all inevitable, but co-hosts should not be put in pot 1. If you have to artificially prop up poor hosts, at least do so to a lesser degree: when there are co-hosts, if they are a top 4 FIFA ranked team or whatever criteria you’re using, put them in pot 1 like any other team, if not, they can be no lower than pot 2, but not in pot 1. While this system would still create the same ripple effect, it would happen lower down the food chain, e.g. Germany as a ‘B’ who is really an ‘A’ will not have to play an ‘A’ in the group stage, but England as a ‘C’ who is really a ‘B’ might have to play a ‘B’ in the group stage. Obviously not ideal, but a net-better outcome than having a Group B and Group A like we had here. Having the co-hosts take up 50% of the top pot just makes no sense. This plan doesn’t throw them to the wolves putting them in pot d if they deserve it, but it doesn’t throw off the whole tournament either like the status quo does. I don’t think the Group of Death is an affirmation that ‘omg Euro>World Cup’, I think it is TOO hard for it to competitively be fair to those involved. 4 groups that are truly balanced in my opinion would be even more exciting and more than make up for not having a group of death as murderous as Group B.

  7. Max says:

    To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    The constant qualifiers in Europe (Euro and WC) get very tiresome, and if an expanded Euro field means fewer Euro Qualifying games, then I will be all for it.

  8. Rpb says:

    31 games currently. Adding two groups (12 pool games) plus the additional knock out round (8 octo-final games) increases the the number to 51. If the stadiums will be full, then UEFA will do it. Demand is there, no? Host nations will have a larger burden to host, but a larger potential pay day.

  9. Brett says:

    Any time you increase opportunities for smaller footballing nations to have historic victories in meaningful competitions it is a good thing.

    Let some more minnows in and give them a chance to take down the traditional powers and elevate the game in their country.

  10. Dimidri says:

    Another reason this isn’t great is even if there are 8 legitimately deserving teams (which you could argue there are, off the top of my head Turkey, Serbia, Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Norway would be fine) is that this format will turn into the dull group stage we have with Copa America-16/24 or 8/12 advancing means in some groups 3 teams make it out-that’s the worst part. Then there are the weird cross-group rankings which really aren’t analogous (different groups different point breakdowns) for the 3rd place teams, and it’s not a great idea.

  11. JRP says:

    As long as they are on ESPN so I can stream them while I am supposed to be working it is cool with me.

  12. Oranje Mike says:

    I think the current format is fine. At the same time I’m not opposed to UEFA trying something new. If it ends up a bad idead, go back to 16 teams in 2020.

  13. The Imperative Voice says:

    “Tiresome?” How? It means a lot of their games count so they get constant pressure to perform all the time, and can test their kids in real circumstances outside the WC cycle. And, it also makes it harder to pull a “Chandler” and show up for the phase when it means nothing then disappear when the chips are stacking up. I wish the USA had to qualify for Gold Cup and play at least a few meaningful games in the first two years of the cycle.

    There are 53 UEFA countries and at 16 you are already passing the limits of having a compact tournament with the best teams. Now, Ireland has been much better in other tournaments, including making it to the Italia 90 quarters before losing to the host, but at 16 I think you’ll always be catching some second-tier sides. 20-24 would mean not just Turkey but Estonia, Bosnia/Herz., Montenegro, Armenia, and Scotland all make it.

    I think 12-16 for Euro is ideal.

  14. THomas says:

    I’m not sure it means that there will fewer qualifying games. There will just be more teams that qualify. Because the playoffs as they are now, only include 8 total teams w/ 4 making it along w/ 12 group winners. Unless I’m mistaken.

  15. ImaGoalMan says:

    This would be the reason…Euro qualifiers are not fun to follow. The Euro itself is, so extend the tournament a bit, and reduce qualification constraints.

  16. The Imperative Voice says:

    Give them a chance? They get 8-10 qualifying group games to show their stuff plus the salvation of second place advancement and playoffs. Lot of .500-type teams sitting in those 3rd qualifying spots.

  17. lolno says:

    Take your pick:

    Spain vs San Marino, Andorra, or the Faroe Islands.

  18. Marcus says:

    I agree with your point, but FIFA also does this for the world cup, hence in 2002 both Japan and Korea were seeded. While this didn’t create such as vicious of a Group of Death as this year’s Euros (Argentina/England/Sweden/Nigeria was close), it DID create a really weak group for Japan (Japan/Russia/Belgium/Tunisia).

    I think i’m OK with this policy if it’s only 1 host, but 2 or more hosts dilute Pot 1 and create vastly uneven groups.

  19. BSU SC says:

    I think the current format is ideal, but it’s never bad to try something new. I’m all for giving it a shot in 2016 and seeing how it works. If it’s no good then they can always go back to the 16 team format.

  20. JoeL says:

    +1. Europe is composed of a lot great teams so the more the merrier. Great tournament so far, very entertaining as the article points out and love the fact I can watch every game at work via ESPN3.com. :) I just wished FIFA wasn’t so stuborn and would implement the video line technology already vs. adding an additional ref by the goal.

  21. djs says:

    I’m definitely with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” crowd.

    I think Platini’s position is primarily motivated by political considerations — which he openly admits to when he talks about how popular it would be with the national associations. I also wonder if expanding the field makes it that much more unlikely for one of the traditional powers to have a meltdown during qualifying and miss the finals — as has occurred in the past. On that score, it seems like UEFA’s version of the NASCAR mandate for the top 35 teams to automatically qualify for every week’s race… ensuring that none of the big boys miss out because of a crash during qualifying, etc.

  22. RK says:

    More games, more money. That’s all it would be about. Not as if these players need a break or anything. There aren’t any teams that I’m missing.

  23. Old School says:

    Truth.

    Scoring up: check
    Excitement: check
    Drama: check
    Highly competitive matches: check

    Why water it down?

  24. Aquaman says:

    The only reason I would be for this is because it’s the only way Norway has a chance to make it into Euros consistently…but then you have a tournament watered down with teams of Norway’s quality.

  25. ben in el cajon says:

    I don’t care. It isn’t my region’s tournament, so I really don’t have a say. I’ll watch games either way. I’d rather discuss why it’s so hard to find Copa America on television, and I’d like to see the knockout rounds of Asia as well. Oh, and Africa: I totally want to see some of those games.

  26. Vic says:

    Not a bad idea. Euro teams have it much harder for World Cup and Euro qualification. It would give more opportunity to nations that deserve it.

  27. Cafosol says:

    Since you have already decided to dilute an absolute gem of a product, ask yourself this. What has been the most compelling part of the competition to date? EASY ANSWER: The final day of group play. Now ask yourself why? Because every game is metaphorically life or death. Conclusion. Expand to the entire Federation and do a single-elimination knock out format.

  28. BFT says:

    This is a money grab, period.

  29. Kevin_Amold says:

    None of us have a say. We all have an opinion, however.

    16 teams!

  30. liberoo says:

    BOOO! Terrible idea. No amount of extra money is worth the degrading of group play.

  31. JGD says:

    Has Platini ever had a good idea? Can’t wait for more of the same when Blatter retires…

  32. UMN says:

    “Take your pick:
    Spain vs San Marino, Andorra, or the Faroe Islands.” This is really unfair, I’m really surprised that so many people here hate underdog stories. Qualifying in Europe is very hard I don’t think the US would be able to under the current standards, why not give a couple of the smaller countries a chance countries like; Belgium, Austria, Serbia, and Norway. Do you think the US is so much above them? Do you like seeing the US play Brazil or England?

  33. Brett says:

    Funny, but a straw-man. You think those teams would make it through qualifying? I’m talking about giving Scotland, Norway, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland, Hungary, Bulgaria, et al more shots to jump out of the group and knockout a team like Germany, Spain, France, Italy, et al in a real competition. These are historic, program-changing type opportunities for those countries in the “.500″ area.

    If the United States were to go through qualifying, they would stand an equal chance to this bevvy of nations that did not make it to the finals.

  34. ml says:

    Now a fan of expansion, but if they do, maybe they’ll do something like this…

    Have eight 3-team groups, top two get out. That way, each group stage game would maintain if not magnify it’s importance (only two games per team). Plus, you won’t have any “best third place teams” nonsense like in Gold Cup and Copa.

  35. Bob Bradley says:

    The only team I miss is Belgium.

  36. tankcommander says:

    If it helps getting Estonia into the Euro I’m all for it!

  37. CrazyMike366 says:

    I think the number of teams is fine as is. I also agree with whoever posted near the top that the real problem is hosts being seeded in pot 1 over much stronger teams.

    If Platini wants to avoid the better teams getting knocked out in the group stage, the powers that be either need to bump the hosts out of pot 1 to the pots where they belong or they need to find hosts that actually deserve to play alongside the other teams who qualified (COUGH! Qatar 2012! COUGH!)

    (An aside for the “numbers people” out there)
    Going into the tournament, Ukraine and Poland were ranked #28 and #32 in Europe, respectively. The weakest two teams in the entire field were put in Pot 1 alongside World Cup finalists Spain and The Netherlands. Even by using the convoluted coefficient calculation Uefa uses for seeding, the point gap between Spain (43,116) and Poland (23, 806) was nearly 45%. By comparison, the point gap between Holland (40,860) in Pot 1 and Germany (40,446) in Pot 2 was just over 1%.

  38. Timbers Fan says:

    What has made this tournament so exciting is that every match has mattered and every group has been competitive through all three games. If 2/3 of the teams are going to qualify, as opposed to 1/2, I think the quality of the group stage will be noticeably less. In general, I don’t think over half of the teams in anything should ever progress to the next stage (e.g. 10/18 MLS teams in the playoffs last year was ridiculous).

  39. Brian says:

    Life isn’t fair. Not everyone makes the European finals. Not everyone makes the World Cup finals. Not everyone makes the NHL playoffs. Wait, scratch that last sentence.

    Leave it alone, Monsieur Platini.

  40. ANM says:

    Expanding the Euros is a genuinely dreadful idea that would diminish both the value of the qualifying tournament and the excitement of the tournament itself. Like most genuinely dreadful ideas, it is being made because short term financial considerations are more important to UEFA than the long term health of international football.

    Michel Platini was one hell of a player, but based on the poll results above, 80% of American soccer fans have more sense than him.

  41. T says:

    No, don’t change anything. As the tournament is currently organized, excitement and overall play is just as good or better than in previous tournaments. It would be nice to see other decent Euro teams like Norway and Belgium, but they simply didn’t qualify. With less teams the quality of the tournament is actually better, because only the strongest footballing nations who played well enough to qualify compete for the championship. This makes for a more well-rounded spectacle.

  42. T says:

    MLS’s idea to have ten teams was rather ridiculous I agree, however only 8 teams qualify for the main event. Teams finishing 4th and 5th in both conferences respectively play in a wild card game, with the higher seeded team hosting a winner take all match.

  43. bryan says:

    i’m fine with the way it is. every team has a chance to be an underdog story in qualifying and then continue that story at the main event. adding in weaker teams so the chances of more underdog stories defeats the purpose of a competition meant to find the best. to me, UEFA found a good number with the current system. there could certainly be some changes like some of the ones mentioned above, but adding more teams, i’m not convinced.

  44. Old School says:

    I agree with the “life isn’t fair” attitude.

    Soccer Mom Mentality for a lot around here.

  45. slowleftarm says:

    I’d prefer to keep it at 16 but I don’t have a problem with going to 24, it’s just that allowing 16 to make the knockout stage makes the first round kind of a waste. I’d prefer the 1982 world cup format. 12 teams advance from the first round into four 3 team groups with the four groups winners making the semi-finals.

  46. RLW2020 says:

    i think the best way would be 8 groups of 3 with the top moving on.

    currently the first game is a waste of time, everyone just plays for a draw and after that finishing first or second requires you to get a win and 2 draws typically or 2 wins.

    If you only had 3 games and everyone was a must win it would be much more exciting. 8 groups of 3 would allow 24 teams and a 8 team knockout stage.

    plus it would be a different vibe than the world cup and basically every other tournament.

  47. RLW2020 says:

    8 three team groups with the TOP team advancing. No way of letting 2/3 move on.

  48. marco says:

    No, some teams were not competitive with 16. Add on some poor host teams and you could have a better showing with less, perhaps 12 teams total.

  49. Kosh says:

    Check THIS ^

    All points touched – leave the darn thing alone.

  50. Kosh says:

    I am not sure the clubs will be in line with expanding the tournament. The thing is fines as it is.

  51. biff says:

    I am not a Platini fan, but I think this is a good idea. I don’t like a knock-out round that starts with only eight teams or, put the other way, at the quarter-final stage–only three straight three wins and your are Euro Champ. I think a Sweet Sixteen knock-out round would be better. And, as Platini says, there are decent teams that did not make the 16-team cut that can play respectably.

  52. AC says:

    Meaning it will be like MLS playoff structure. You hardly have to try to qualify. Many teams will just play for the tie.

  53. Galaxy Fan says:

    Would a 20 team, 5 teams per pool, top 2 teams advance the same way currently be better? With 4 group games, I think the better teams in each group have greater chance for succes.

  54. Geoff says:

    Exactly. Neither game today would have mattered under this system except to determine seeding. Sweden were out no matter what. I don’t think that makes things more exciting.

  55. GW says:

    Would you say that if it was you who got the extra money?

    If the Euros don’t become a bigger deal financially and broaden their base, they risk being rendered completely irrelevant by the Champions League.

    The tournament has to find ways to increase revenue or else it will slowly go the way of the FA Cup.