For­mat of Euro 2016 re­vealed

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT -

UEFA has re­vealed the for­mat for the Euro 2016 qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with matches spread to ‘‘en­sure a bet­ter vis­i­bil­ity’’ of the com­pe­ti­tion.

The qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion will in­volve 53 UEFA mem­bers, in­clud­ing Gi­bral­tar.

The teams will be split into nine groups of five or six, with the top two in each sec­tion qual­i­fy­ing au­to­mat­i­cally for the fi­nals, along with hosts France.

They will be joined by the best third-placed team, while the eight re­main­ing third­placed teams will con­test play-offs to de­ter­mine the last four qual­i­fiers.

The 2016 fi­nals will see the num­ber of com­pet­ing teams in­crease from 16 to 24, which should en­sure greater TV rev­enues for UEFA, and Euro­pean foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body is de­ter­mined to ex­tract max­i­mum ex­po­sure from the qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment, too.

To that end, in­ter­na­tional weeks will ex­tend from Thurs­day to Tues­day, with games be­ing played ev­ery day in what has been dubbed the ‘‘Week of Foot­ball’’ con­cept.

On dou­ble-header match­weeks, teams play on Thurs­day/Sun­day, Fri­day/Mon­day or Satur­day/Tues­day.

‘‘ The fact we spread the Euro­pean Qual­i­fiers over sev­eral days as op­posed to all teams play­ing on the same day will en­sure a bet­ter vis­i­bil­ity for the com­pe­ti­tion,’’ UEFA gen­eral sec­re­tary Gianni In­fantino said.

The qual­i­fy­ing draw will take place in Nice on Fe­bru­ary 23 next year. The draw for the fi­nal tour­na­ment will be held in Paris on De­cem­ber 12, 2015, with the fi­nals run­ning from June 10 to July 10, 2016.

Pic­ture: SCOTT BAR­BOUR

Mitch Ni­chols pig­gy­backs team­mate Con­nor Pain as he cel­e­brates one of his two goals for Mel­bourne Vic­tory against Mel­bourne Heart at AAMI Park last night

Gianni In­fantino

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