UEFA Euro 2020

UEFA considering further expansion of Euros from 2028

Tom Gott
The Euros could be expanded again
The Euros could be expanded again / Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

Euro 2020 has only just finished but UEFA are believed to be discussing ways to shake up future tournaments, including yet another expansion.

Since 2016, 24 teams have competed at the European Championships, with 16 of those making it through to the knockout stages, and the fact that qualifying is easier than being eliminated has seen the idea draw plenty of criticism.

Well, according to the Associated Press, UEFA are open to changing the system, but only if that means they can expand it even further. Preliminary talks have already been held over inviting 32 teams to compete at the Euros, starting in 2028.

Since there are only 55 member nations of UEFA, expanding the tournament to include more than half of those would require drastic changes to the knockout system as splitting the teams up into ten groups would create too many lopsided games and would effectively guarantee qualification for the top sides.

It's that concern which has been thrown at UEFA this summer at Euro 2020, where a lot of groups were decided after the second round of fixtures and some teams were qualifying despite losing two of their three games.

Should UEFA push ahead with this proposed expansion, the idea of using a pre-qualification tournament to eliminate some of the smaller nations has been suggested. Such a process is used in both Asia and North America.

However, there are also murmurs that the qualification process as we know it today could be scrapped completely and replaced by an updated version of the Nations League, which groups teams together based on their FIFA rankings to create more even games.

Gone could be the days of seeing the likes of San Marino and Liechtenstein repeatedly mauled by teams across the continent. Instead, those smaller teams would battle it out with each other for a spot in the tournament.

UEFA are following the lead set by FIFA, who have confirmed an expansion of the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 from 2026.

There is no timeline for when UEFA will make a decision on this, with those involved aware that a lot of nations would struggle to host such an enlarged tournament without years of costly upgrades to their stadiums.