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SBD Global/June 20, 2012/International Football

Euro Will Expand To 24 Teams, Could Change Caliber

England's 1-0 win over Ukraine Tuesday was one of many tightly contested matches.
UEFA President Michel Platini said that the next European Championships "will not suffer a drop in quality when it expands" from 16 to 24 teams in '16, according to Justin Palmer of REUTERS. Platini added: "Twenty-four is OK...I think it's OK. Eight good teams to add. It's not a problem of quality." The prospect of adding eight teams has raised fear that middle- and lower-ranked sides will qualify, thus resorting to overly defensive tactics to "avoid humiliating defeats at the hands of the major European powers." Platini: "It's very important for the (additional) countries that qualify. It is good for the national associations and their development. How can we ask to a city like Lviv to build an airport, to build a big stadium, and after three games it is finished for the Euro?" He added, "The sponsors are present because they are proud to participate." Platini said more teams meant "more games in stadiums, which leads to better investment" (REUTERS, 6/18). REUTERS' Martyn Herman wrote all the groups in Euro 2012 "have been tightly-contested," along with "many enthralling matches" and only one "real thrashing." Things might not be "quite as exciting" at the next European Championships, however, with UEFA expanding the tournament and going against the mantra of, "if it's not broken don't fix it." An obsession with "super-sizing threatens to turn the tournament from haute cuisine to junk food, with dead fixtures involving teams like Montenegro and Estonia, both of whom would have probably qualified" for Euro 2012 under the new format (REUTERS, 6/19).
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