Almanac Soccer: Euro 2016 Success or Not?

Another European championship has finished and with the new 24 team format has it been a success? In the past qualifying for a European Championship was harder for teams in Europe than a World Cup due to the competition having 16 spots. With the expanded 24 team format it can be argued the standard was diluted with more minnows in the comp. However we may not have had the fairy-tale of Iceland’s run to the quarter finals. The smallest nation ever to qualify for a football tournament and 10% of the population travelling to France to support the team. Wales with Gareth Bale and their run to the semi-finals and who can forget the Irish supporters who made us remember that football is a game and is to be enjoyed no matter the result.


However it is a poor reflection of the tournament that a team that was one of 4 best 3rd place teams in their group can win the tournament when in the past they would not have made it past the group stage. There is a trend in world sports there is demand that more is better and will give greater returns financially. UEFA have suggested we could see a 32 team Euro’s in the future, FIFA have talked about a 40 team World Cup and even here in Australia we are talking about expanding our domestic competitions that will stretch a talent pool that is already under resourced in this country. Of course when UEFA announce that they will make a profit over $900 million for Euro 2016 it is easy to see why we are seeing more teams in tournaments and leagues around the world. There is an appetite for more teams from the public and of course media rights money still pays the bills.


So at what point will it look like we are handing out spots to a tournament like we give kids participation awards for turning up to for their game every week (a story for another time). Unless UEFA and FIFA are prepared to pump their rich profits into fast tracking developing nations we run the risk of spoiling the prestige of these great tournaments. We shall also lose the appreciation of qualifying for a World Cup or a Euro. Already in Australia we have a generation of kids who only know our times at the past 3 World Cups and don’t understand the pain we went through for over 30 years before that magical night in November 2005.


So it is like when you eat too much junk food. Sure it tastes great and you enjoy it while you have it, but in the long run there is a cost to your health. Is football and mainstream sport going down the same path?

About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast

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