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Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 13:56 UK

Uefa to expand Euro Championship

Spain's players celebrate with the trophy
Spain claimed victory at Euro 2008

The European Championship will be expanded to feature 24 teams from 2016 instead of the current 16, Uefa announced on Friday.

A Uefa executive committee met on Thursday to discuss the issue and subsequently confirmed the decision.

"Yes for sure it's going to be 24 teams," said Franz Beckenbauer, who is vice-chairman of Uefa's development and technical assistance committee.

"The European Championships will not lose any quality by that."

Former German international Beckenbauer is not a Uefa executive committee member but is a European Fifa executive member who sits in on the meetings as a non-voting observer.

The proposal to expand the competition was put forward by the Scottish Football Association and Football Association of Ireland last year.

The new format will mean fewer countries will have the capacity to host the tournament but it is believed the 53 member nations are unanimously in favour of the change.

"I think the expansion will be better for the game - more teams will have the chance of qualifying and the excitement of the groups will go on for longer," said Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith.

"It is disappointing in that it means we will not be able to stage the tournament in the future, and we recognise that will be the case.

"It was a trade-off between trying to stage it or open up the qualification process and we have decided to look at something that helps everybody."

Spain emerged victorious at Euro 2008 earlier this year at a tournament where there was no presence from the home nations.

The expanded version should mean it is easier for Scotland and other home nations to qualify but Smith added: "It will make it easier for other countries such as England who failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

"We didn't do it specifically for that purpose however."

see also
Germany 0-1 Spain
29 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Xavi awarded Euro 2008 accolade
30 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Spain top rankings after Euro win
02 Jul 08 |  Internationals

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