European finals to expand to 24 countries

Other News Materials 25 September 2008 23:25 (UTC +04:00)

UEFA has agreed to expand the European Championship finals to 24 teams starting in 2016, Franz Beckenbauer said on Thursday, reported CNN.

Beckenbauer, a FIFA executive member who sits in on UEFA's executive committee meetings as a nonvoting observer, said the decision will be officially ratified and announced on Friday.

The European Championship currently has 16 teams.

Beckenbauer said organizing the tournament would prove more difficult because fewer countries would have the means to accommodate 24 teams.

"Quality-wise there is no difference, the question is organizing it," Beckenbauer said. "A lot more games. That is another point. But quality-wise it is OK."

The 16-team format for the Euro finals has been in place since 1996.

The plan for a 24-team expansion was floated by presidents of the 53 federations that make up UEFA in a meeting with the organization's president Michel Platini on the eve of the Euro 2008 final in Vienna in June.

Depending on the format adopted, it could mean an increase to 51 matches from 31 over four weeks instead of three.

UEFA on Friday will also discuss the state of preparations for the 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine.