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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 8, 2006

UEFA consider 24-team European Championship

NYON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - UEFA is to consider the possible expansion of the European Championship to 24 national teams instead of the current 16.

UEFA's chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson said European football's governing body had discussed the idea during its Executive Committee meeting on Thursday and Friday and agreed to put it to UEFA's Congress in Dusseldorf at the end of January.

The Congress will not vote on the expansion itself, but simply on whether the idea should be the subject of a feasibility study.

Olsson said the proposal could nevertheless become a reality in time for Euro 2012. Ukraine-Poland and Croatia-Hungary have made joint bids to hold Euro 2012, with Italy mounting a solo bid. UEFA is due to announce the winning bid in April next year.

'Individual members of the Executive Committee have already spoken positively about the idea itself,' Olsson added.

'If Congress is also in favour - and I see no reason why it would not be - then we would of course have to inform the three bidders for Euro 2012 and see if they can provide solutions for 24 teams.

'I think it would be still be possible to stage a 24-team competition using the planned eight stadiums but there are a lot of other factors like hotel capacities that make it closer to the organising of a 32-team competition. So there are a lot of things to check.'

The idea of an expanded European Championships was put to UEFA by the Scottish football association with support from the Republic of Ireland, Latvia and Sweden.

One drawback to a 24-team tournament is that it does not easily lend itself to a natural elimination progression as a 16-team or 32-team tournament does.

The World Cups from 1982-1994 consisted of 24 teams with awkward elimination processes involved in the middle of those tournaments.

The European Championship was comprised a mini-final tournament of four teams from 1960-1976 and was expanded to eight teams in 1980 then 16 teams in 1996.