UEFA European Championship

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UEFA European Championship
Founded 1960
Region Europe (UEFA)
Number of teams 24 (finals)
54 (eligible to enter qualification)
Current champions  Spain (3rd title)
Most successful team(s)  Germany
 Spain
(3 titles each)
Website Official website

The UEFA European Championship is the primary association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), determining the continental champion of Europe. Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current name in 1968. Starting with the 1996 tournament, specific championships are often referred to in the form "UEFA Euro [year]"; this format has since been retroactively applied to earlier tournaments.

Prior to entering the tournament all teams other than the host nations (which qualify automatically) compete in a qualifying process. The championship winners earn the opportunity to compete in the following FIFA Confederations Cup, but are not obliged to do so.[1]

The 14 European Championship tournaments have been won by nine different national teams: Germany and Spain each have won three titles, France has two titles, and Soviet Union, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Denmark and Greece have won one title each. To date, Spain are the only side in history to have won consecutive titles, doing so in the 2008 and 2012 editions.

The most recent championship, co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine in 2012, was won by Spain, who beat Italy 4–0 at the final in Kiev. The next European Championship will be hosted in France.[2]

The UEFA European Championship is the second most popular international football tournament after the FIFA World Cup.[3][4]

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

The idea for a pan-European football tournament was first proposed by the French Football Federation's secretary-general Henri Delaunay in 1927, but it was not until 1958 that the tournament was started, three years after Delaunay's death.[5][6] In honour of Delaunay, the trophy awarded to the champions is named after him.[7] The 1960 tournament, held in France, had four teams competing in the finals out of 17 that entered the competition.[8] It was won by the Soviet Union, beating Yugoslavia 2–1 in a tense final in Paris.[9] Spain withdrew from its quarter-final match against the USSR due to political protests.[10] Of the 17 teams that entered the qualifying tournament, notable absentees were England, The Netherlands, West Germany and Italy.[11]

Spain held the next tournament in 1964, which saw an increase in entries to the qualification tournament, with 29 entering;[12] West Germany was a notable absentee once again and Greece withdrew after being drawn against Albania, with whom they were still at war.[13] The hosts beat the title holders, the Soviet Union, 2–1 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid.[14]

The tournament format stayed the same for the 1968 tournament, hosted and won by Italy.[15][16] For the first and only time a match was decided on a coin toss (the semi-final against the Soviet Union)[17] and the final went to a replay, after the match against Yugoslavia finished 1–1.[18] Italy won the replay 2–0.[19] More teams entered this tournament (31), a testament to its burgeoning popularity.[20]

Belgium hosted the 1972 tournament, which West Germany won, beating the USSR 3–0 in the final, with goals coming from Gerd Müller (twice) and Herbert Wimmer at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.[21] This tournament would provide a taste of things to come, as the German side contained many of the key members of the 1974 FIFA World Cup Champions.[22][23]

The 1976 tournament in Yugoslavia was the last in which only four teams took part in the final tournament, and the last in which the hosts had to qualify. Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in the newly introduced penalty shootout. After seven successful conversions, Uli Hoeneß missed, leaving Czechoslovakian Antonín Panenka with the opportunity to score and win the tournament. An "audacious" chipped shot,[24] described by UEFA as "perhaps the most famous spot kick of all time" secured the victory as Czechoslovakia won 5–3 on penalties.[25]

Expansion to 8 teams[edit]

The competition was expanded to eight teams in the 1980 tournament, again hosted by Italy. It involved a group stage, with the winners of the groups going on to contest the final, and the runners-up playing in the third place play-off.[26] West Germany won their second European title by beating Belgium 2–1, with two goals scored by Horst Hrubesch at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.[27] Horst Hrubesch scored early in the first half before René Vandereycken equalised for Belgium with a penalty in the second half. With two minutes remaining, Hrubesch headed West Germany into the lead from a Karl-Heinz Rummenigge corner, securing his country's second victory in the championship.[28]

France won their first major title at home in the 1984 tournament, with their captain Michel Platini scoring 9 goals in just 5 games, including the opening goal in the final, in which they beat Spain 2–0.[29][30] The format also changed, with the top two teams in each group going through to a semi-final stage, instead of the winners of each group going straight into the final. The third place playoff was also abolished.[31]

West Germany hosted UEFA Euro 1988, but lost 2–1 to the Netherlands, their traditional rivals, in the semi-finals, which sparked vigorous celebrations in the Netherlands.[32][33] The Netherlands went on to win the tournament, beating the USSR 2–0 at the Olympia Stadion in Munich,[34] a match in which Marco van Basten scored one of the most memorable goals in football history, a spectacular volley over the keeper from the right wing.[35]

UEFA Euro 1992 was held in Sweden, and was won by Denmark, who were only in the finals because UEFA did not allow Yugoslavia to participate as some of the states constituting the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were at a state of war with each other.[36][37] The Danes beat holders the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-finals,[38] then defeated world champion Germany 2–0.[39] This was the first tournament in which a unified Germany took part and also the first major tournament to have the players' names printed on their backs.

Expansion to 16 teams[edit]

England hosted UEFA Euro 1996, the first tournament to use the nomenclature "Euro [year]" and would see the number of teams taking part double to 16.[40] The hosts, in a replay of the 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final, were knocked out on penalties by Germany,[41] who would go on to win in the Final 2–1 against the newly formed Czech Republic thanks to the first golden goal ever in a major tournament, scored by Oliver Bierhoff.[42][43] This was Germany's first title as a unified nation.

UEFA Euro 2000 was the first tournament to be held by two countries, in the Netherlands and Belgium.[44] France, the reigning World Cup champions, were favoured to win, and they lived up to expectations when they beat Italy 2–1 after extra time, having come from being 1–0 down: Sylvain Wiltord equalized in the very last minute of the game and David Trezeguet scored the winner in extra time.[45]

UEFA Euro 2004, like 1992, produced an upset: Greece, who had only qualified for one World Cup (1994) and one European Championship (1980) before, beat hosts Portugal 1–0 in the final (after having also beaten them in the opening game) with a goal scored by Angelos Charisteas in the 57th minute to win a tournament that they had been given odds of 150–1 to win before it began.[46] On their way to the Final, they also beat holders France[47] as well as the Czech Republic with a silver goal,[48][49] a rule which replaced the previous golden goal in 2003, before being abolished itself shortly after this tournament.[50]

The 2008 tournament, hosted by Austria and Switzerland, marked the second time that two nations co-hosted and the first edition where the new trophy was awarded.[51] It commenced on 7 June and finished on 29 June.[52] The Final between Germany and Spain was held at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna.[53] Spain defeated Germany 1–0, with a goal scored by Fernando Torres in the 33rd minute, sparking much celebration across the country.[54] This is their first title since the 1964 tournament. Spain were the highest scoring team with 12 goals scored and David Villa finished as the top scorer with four goals. Xavi was awarded the player of the tournament, and nine Spanish players were picked for the UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament.[55]

The UEFA Euro 2012 tournament was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.[56] Spain defeated Italy 4–0 in the final, thus becoming the first nation to defend a European Championship title and the first nation to win three major international tournaments in succession (Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012).[57] In scoring the third goal of the Final, Fernando Torres became the first player to score in two European Championship finals. He was equal top scorer for the tournament with three goals in total, along with Mario Balotelli, Alan Dzagoev, Mario Gómez, Mario Mandžukić, and Cristiano Ronaldo, despite only being used as a substitute player. The tournament was otherwise notable for having the most headed goals in a Euro tournament (26 out of 76 goals in total); a disallowed goal in the England versus Ukraine group game which replays showed had crossed the goal line, and which prompted President of FIFA Sepp Blatter to tweet, "GLT (Goal-line technology) is no longer an alternative but a necessity,"[58] thus reversing his long-held reluctance to embrace such technology; and some crowd violence in group games.

Expansion to 24 teams[edit]

The UEFA Euro 2016 tournament will be hosted by France, where 24 teams will play in this tournament.[59] Michel Platini has stated that the Football Association of Ireland and the Scottish Football Association suggested that the number of participating teams be increased.[60] Platini has also said that the football associations of England and Germany opposed the expansion, and that 51 of UEFA's Member Associations voted in favour of the expansion of the tournament.[60] The decision was taken in September 2008.[61]

Although preliminary preparation of bids from Turkey, Republic of Ireland-Wales-Scotland and Azerbaijan-Georgia to host Euro 2020 had occurred, it was announced in December 2012 that the tournament would be hosted in cities across several European countries.

Trophy[edit]

UEFA European Championship Trophy

The Henri Delaunay Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the European Championship, is named in honour of Henri Delaunay, the first General Secretary of UEFA, who came up with the idea of a European championship but died five years prior to the first tournament in 1960. His son, Pierre, was in charge of creating the trophy.[62] Since the first tournament it has been awarded to the winning team for them to keep for four years, until the next tournament.

For the 2008 tournament, the Henri Delaunay Trophy was remodelled to make it larger, as the old trophy was overshadowed by UEFA's other trophies such as the European Champion Clubs' Cup. The new trophy, which is made of sterling silver, now weighs 8 kilograms (18 lb) and is 60 centimetres (24 in) tall, being seven inches longer and one pound heavier than the old one. A small figure juggling a ball on the back of the original was removed, as was the marble plinth. The silver base of the trophy had to be enlarged to make it stable. The names of the winning countries that had appeared on the plinth have now been engraved on the back of the trophy.[63]

The players and coaches of the winning teams and runner-up teams are awarded gold and silver medals, respectively. The runner-up team receives a plaque. Though there was no third place playoff, UEFA decided in the 2012 edition to award the semi-final losers (Germany and Portugal) bronze medals for the first time.[64] Bronze medals were previously awarded for winners of the third place playoff, the last of which was held in 1980.

Format[edit]

The competition[edit]

Before 1980, only four teams qualified for the final tournament. From 1980, eight teams competed. In 1996 the tournament expanded to 16 teams, since it was easier for European nations to qualify for the World Cup than their own continental championship; 14 of the 24 teams at the 1982, 1986 and 1990 World Cups had been European, whereas the European Championship finals still involved only eight teams.

For 2016, the competition will increase to 24 teams. In 2007, there was much discussion about an expansion of the tournament to 24 teams, started by Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, due to the increased number of football associations in Europe after the breakups of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, and the inclusion of Israel and Kazakhstan. The new president of UEFA, Michel Platini, was reported to be in favour of expansion which proved an accurate assumption. Whilst on 17 April 2007, UEFA's Executive Committee formally decided against expansion in 2012, Platini indicated in June 2008 that UEFA will increase participation from 16 to 24 teams in future tournaments, starting from 2016.[65] On 25 September, it was announced by Franz Beckenbauer that an agreement had been reached, and the expansion to 24 teams would be officially announced the next day.[66]

The competing teams are chosen by a series of qualifying games: in 1960 and 1964 through home and away play-offs; from 1968 through a combination of both qualifying groups and play-off games. The host country was selected from the four finalists after they were determined through qualifying.

Since the expansion of the final tournament starting from 1980, the host country, or countries, have been chosen beforehand and qualify automatically.

Qualifying[edit]

In order to qualify, a team must finish in one of the qualifying spots or win a play-off. After this, a team proceeds to the finals round in the host country, although hosts qualify for the tournament automatically. The qualifying phase begins in the autumn after the preceding FIFA World Cup, almost two years before the finals.

The groups for qualification are drawn by a UEFA committee using seeding. Seeded teams include reigning champions, and other teams on the basis of their performance in the preceding FIFA World Cup qualifying and the last European Championship qualifying. To obtain an accurate view of the teams abilities, a ranking is produced. This is calculated by taking the total number of points won by a particular team and dividing it by the number of games played, i.e. points per game. In the case of a team having hosted one of the two previous competitions and therefore having qualified automatically, only the results from the single most recent qualifying competition are used. If two teams have equal points per game, the committee then bases their positions in the rankings on:

  1. Coefficient from the matches played in its most recent qualifying competition.
  2. Average goal difference.
  3. Average number of goals scored.
  4. Average number of away goals scored.
  5. Drawing of lots.

The qualifying phase is played in a group format, the composition of the groups is determined through means of a draw of teams from pre-defined seeded bowls. The draw takes place after the preceding World Cup's qualifying competition. For UEFA Euro 2012, the group qualifying phase consists of nine groups; six of six teams and the remainder of five teams each.

Each group is played in a league format with teams playing each other home and away. Teams then either qualify for the final tournament or to further playoffs depending on their position in the group. As with most leagues, the points are awarded as three for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. In the eventuality of one or more teams having equal points after all matches have been played, the following criteria are used to distinguish the sides:

  1. Higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the teams in question.
  2. Superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in question.
  3. Higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams in question.
  4. Higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question.
  5. Results of all group matches:
    1. Superior goal difference
    2. Higher number of goals scored
    3. Higher number of goals scored away from home
    4. Fair play conduct.
  6. Drawing of lots.

Final tournament[edit]

Sixteen teams progress to the final tournament; for the 2012 tournament, they were joint hosts Poland and Ukraine, the winners and the highest ranked second placed team from the nine qualifying groups as well as the winners of four play-off matches between the runners-up of the other groups. These sixteen teams are divided equally into four groups, A, B, C and D, each consisting of four teams. The groups are drawn up by the UEFA administration, again using seeding. The seeded teams being the host nations, the reigning champions, subject to qualification, and those with the best points per game coefficients over the qualifying phase of the tournament and the previous World Cup qualifying. Other finalists will be assigned to by means of a draw, using coefficients as a basis.

The four groups are again played in a league format, where a team plays its opponents once each. The same points system is used (three points for a win, one point for a draw, no points for a defeat). A schedule for the group matches will be drawn up, but the last two matches in a group must kick off simultaneously. The winner and runner-up of each group progresses to the quarter-finals, where a knockout system is used (the two teams play each other once, the winner progresses), this is used in all subsequent rounds as well. The winners of the quarter-finals matches progress to the semi-finals, where the winners play in the final. If in any of the knockout rounds, the scores are still equal after normal playing time, extra time and penalties are employed to separate the two teams. Unlike the FIFA World Cup, this tournament no longer has a third place playoff.

Future[edit]

Bids for future tournaments[edit]

On 28 May 2010, UEFA announced that Euro 2016 will be hosted by France. France beat bids of Turkey (7–6 in voting in second voting round) and Italy, which had the least votes in first voting round.[67] UEFA Euro 2016 will be the first to have 24 teams in the finals.[68] This will be the third time France have hosted the competition.

For the 2020 tournament three bids had been proposed, including a bid from Turkey,[69] a joint bid from the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales,[70] and a joint bid from Georgia and Azerbaijan.[71] In December 2012, however, UEFA announced that the 2020 tournament would be hosted in several cities in various countries across Europe.[72]

Results[edit]

Year Host Final Third place match Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up Third place Score Fourth place
1960
Details
 France
Soviet Union
2–1
aet

Yugoslavia

Czechoslovakia
2–0
France
4
1964
Details
 Spain
Spain
2–1
Soviet Union

Hungary
3–1
aet

Denmark
4
1968
Details
 Italy
Italy
1–1 aet
2–0 replay

Yugoslavia

England
2–0
Soviet Union
4
1972
Details
 Belgium
West Germany
3–0
Soviet Union

Belgium
2–1
Hungary
4
1976
Details
 Yugoslavia
Czechoslovakia
2–2 aet
(5–3) ps

West Germany

Netherlands
3–2
aet

Yugoslavia
4
1980
Details
 Italy
West Germany
2–1
Belgium

Czechoslovakia
1–1[n 1]
(9–8) ps

Italy
8
Year Host Final Losing semi-finalists[n 2] Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up
1984
Details
 France
France
2–0
Spain
 Denmark and  Portugal 8
1988
Details
 West Germany
Netherlands
2–0
Soviet Union
 Italy and  West Germany 8
1992
Details
 Sweden
Denmark
2–0
Germany
 Netherlands and  Sweden 8
1996
Details
 England
Germany
2–1
asdet

Czech Republic
 England and  France 16
2000
Details
 Belgium &
 Netherlands

France
2–1
asdet

Italy
 Netherlands and  Portugal 16
2004
Details
 Portugal
Greece
1–0
Portugal
 Czech Republic and  Netherlands 16
2008
Details
 Austria &
  Switzerland

Spain
1–0
Germany
 Russia and  Turkey 16
2012
Details
 Poland &
 Ukraine

Spain
4–0
Italy
 Germany and  Portugal 16
Notes
  1. ^ No extra time played.
  2. ^ No third place match has been played since 1984; losing semi-finalists are listed in alphabetical order.


Teams reaching the final[edit]

Map of winners. Germany: twice as West Germany and once as united Germany, Russia as Soviet Union and Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia
Team Titles Runners-up Finalists
 Germany 3 (19721, 19801, 1996) 3 (19761, 1992, 2008) 6
 Spain 3 (1964*, 2008, 2012) 1 (1984) 4
 France 2 (1984*, 2000) 2
 Soviet Union 1 (1960) 3 (1964, 1972, 1988) 4
 Italy 1 (1968*) 2 (2000, 2012) 3
 Czech Republic 1 (19762) 1 (1996) 2
 Netherlands 1 (1988) 1
 Denmark 1 (1992) 1
 Greece 1 (2004) 1
 Yugoslavia 2 (1960, 1968) 2
 Belgium 1 (1980) 1
 Portugal 1 (2004*) 1
* hosts
1 as West Germany
2 as Czechoslovakia

Records and statistics[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]