The 1992 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, which spanned two years (1990–92), had 32 entrants. Malta and Israel competed for the first time. This was also the first appearance of the unified Germany team. Italy U-21s won the competition.
The competition doubled as the European qualifying round for the Olympic Football Tournament. Hosts Spain qualify automatically and the best four eligible nations would qualify automatically. The fifth best European team would play-off against the best Oceania (OFC) team for another Olympics place.
The 32 national teams were divided into eight groups (six groups of 4 + one group of 3 + one group of 5). The group winners played off against each other on a two-legged home-and-away basis until the winner was decided. There was no finals tournament or 3rd-place playoff.
Denmark, Italy and Sweden as winners of their quarter-final rounds qualify for Olympic Games finals. Since the fourth winner Scotland do not compete in the Olympic Football Tournament (See Great Britain Olympic football team), Poland qualifies instead, being the best of the four quarter-final losers according to a special coefficient which is calculated based on the points achieved in the group stage and the quarter-finals, divided by the number of games played. Poland's coefficient is 1.63, while the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Germany have achieved a score of 1.5. For unknown reasons, the Netherlands is the one of these three teams to face OFC champions in playoff for an additional place.