FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — At a time when UEFA is considering changes to revive interest in European Championship qualifiers, the Euro 2024 draw has produced some big matchups.
Notably, the finalists from the last tournament will meet again on the road to Germany after Italy and England were drawn in the same group on Sunday. The Netherlands against France, world champions, is another highlight match.
But there is a growing sense that the ratings format is becoming a turnoff for viewers and broadcasters.
The latest evidence of his current bloated form came at the Frankfurt draw. The 53 national teams were divided into 10 groups of five or six teams, with 23 qualifying for the 2024 tournament in Germany.
At a meeting of UEFA’s member associations on the eve of the draw, a proposal was tabled to reduce the size of each group to a maximum of four or five teams for the Euro 2028 qualifying stages, a person with knowledge said. of the discussion. The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a private meeting.
The reason for the proposal is believed to be a result of declining interest due to too many ranked games. The UEFA Nations League would be increased to compensate for the reduced qualifying groups.
The possibility of the European tournament being increased to 32 teams was also rejected, the person said.
International soccer leaders have proposed several changes in recent years to keep interest in the game high. Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently pushed the idea of having the World Cup every two years, instead of four.
At Euro 2020, which was played in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Italy beat England on penalties in the final at Wembley Stadium. The teams also met in the recent Nations League, which resulted in a goalless draw and a 1-0 victory for Italy.
But the team managed by Roberto Mancini has been through a difficult time since winning Euro 2020 and ultimately failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Mancini insisted that Italy’s victory at Euro 2020 was “in the past”.
“Playing against England is always difficult because they are one of the best teams in the world. Also, playing at Wembley is always fantastic,” said Mancini.
England manager Gareth Southgate faces questions about whether he will be in charge when qualifying begins after a run of poor results has left his side winless in the last six games.
“As we speak now, I’m under contract for this time in 2024, but I’m also very aware that in football you have to get results,” Southgate said. “So the plan is there and the desire for continuity is there as well, but I’m also not taking it for granted that he’s an underperformer and expects to stay in that office.”
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports