UEFA is studying the possibility of extending the next edition of the Euro to create a 32-team tournament.
The format review comes as the bidding process is put in place for Euro 2028 with a decision on hosting expected by the end of 2023.
It wasn’t until 2016 that the tournament grew from 16 to 24 teams. But UEFA is starting to analyze the feasibility of 32 of its 55 member countries participating in the European Championship from 2028.
The format should be revamped or removed as more than half of the countries making the final cup would further diminish the value and interest of the existing structure where the continent’s teams are divided into 10 groups.
Even with 24 teams now reaching the final tournament, the current path creates lopsided matches that lack appeal for elite teams whose qualification would be a near-certainty and are less attractive commercially and to the fans.
Euro 2020 finalist England have scored 12 goals and conceded just one in two against Montenegro. Italy, opponents of England in the final on Sunday, faced Liechtenstein in qualifying and won 6-0 and 5-0.
The option of pre-qualifying tournaments to eliminate weaker nations has been launched, as is the case in Asia and North America for their continental competitions.
A 32-team European Championship would further reduce this risk in the group stage. France, Germany and Portugal would be unlikely to be in the same group as at Euro 2020.
The widening of the competition would allow UEFA to follow the path of FIFA, which expands the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from 2026. A review of the qualification process for tournaments comes as FIFA oversees setting up a new international fixture list for men’s football after 2024, with time slots when national clubs have to release players.