The UEFA European Championship is already one of world soccer’s marquee events, but European soccer’s governing body is planning a drastic change, which could add to the tournament’s massive global appeal.
UEFA is considering inviting guest teams to participate at Euro 2020. The expanded tournament would would rival the FIFA World Cup in terms of prestige and revenue, according to the Independent.
“Revolutionary plans to expand the European Championship into a huge rival to the World Cup are being discussed by advisers close to UEFA’s president, Michel Platini,” the report says.
“In the biggest change to international football for three decades, the revamped tournament would see national teams from other continents invited to take part. Under the new blueprint, which is another sign of the growing rift between Platini and FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and even Japan would be invited to compete against Europe’s leading teams at Euro 2020.
“The plans are still to be finalised, let alone approved, but one senior adviser to Platini said: ‘The ideas are at an early stage but they are very feasible. The South Americans have been doing it for decades, inviting teams from outside their continent to take part in the Copa America. So why cannot Europe?’”
The European Championship is held every four years, falling two years after the World Cup. Currently, 16 national teams from Europe compete in the tournament, but Euro 2016 will have 24 participants. Expansion critics say the additional teams will dilute the quality of a tournament, which some consider to be on par with or better than the World Cup itself.
Euro 2020 was always going to be an extra-special event after Platini announced that UEFA will stage it in 13 European cities, rather than in one host country. Many expect the “Euros for the Europe,” as Platini called it in December, to be among the most lucrative editions in the tournament’s 60-year history. Adding the giants from the eastern and western hemispheres makes it a near certainty, as broadcasters around the world would pay a premium to air a tournament, which would be akin to an “alternate World Cup.”
UEFA’s plans will draw scrutiny from FIFA. World soccer’s governing body makes most of its revenue from the World Cup, and it would likely resist any competition to its showcase event.
Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer or @mkomard, his Facebook page or NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.