GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) - Germany have “mixed feelings” over the expansion of the European Championship to 24 teams in 2016, saying it was smaller nations that pushed the increased number through to have a bigger chance to qualify.
Euro 2012, which gets underway on Friday and will be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, will be the last to feature 16 teams. The 2016 tournament, to be hosted by France, will be contested by 24 teams.
“I personally find the format with 16 teams ideal,” said German football association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach on Tuesday. “We at the DFB view the (expansion) with mixed feelings.”
“It was smaller nations like Finland and Scotland, and I think Norway was in there as well, who had never qualified and who pushed it through with their votes,” he told reporters.
The competition started as a four-team tournament in 1960, expanding to eight in 1980 and 16 in 1996.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Justin Palmer