UEFA: increase to 24 teams has not affected Euros quality

The increase of the European Championship field to 24 teams has not affected the quality of play at Euro 2016, and collusion is also unlikely at the end of the group stage, UEFA competition director Giorgio Marchetti said on Monday.

Marchetti told reporters he was "surprised in an extremely positive way" as the eight additional teams and the complicated format "has not had a negative impact on the tournament."

Marchetti said that groups remain open and teams need victories to reach the last 16. He said that therefore he doesn't expect manipulations in the final round.

The concern arose because teams playing their final group games, especially on the last day Wednesday, may be able to work out who their opponent in the last 16 would be depending on their result in the last group game.

"I am not overly worried," Marchetti said. "We think we are pretty safe because many teams need to win."

Marchetti said a balanced field with only few big wins and many tight games were likely among the reasons why less goals have been scored in France.

The tournament in France has had 47 goals after 24 games. Euro 2012 had 60 goals at this stage the 2008 tournament 57. In the past the 24 games covered the entire group stage of the 16 teams. Now all teams have played two of three group games after 24 matches.

Marchetti also said that UEFA were not looking into a possible format change should Russia and/or Croatia be kicked out of the tournament.

"We want to think positive. And we believe that Russia and Croatia will be there if they qualify for the knock-out rounds. We hope there will be no further incidents," Marchetti said.

Russia were handed a suspended disqualification by UEFA after their fans attacked England fans in Marseille's stadium. Croatia fans lit and threw fireworks onto the pitch, and fought among each other, in the game against the Czech Republic. UEFA was to rule on those incidentslater Monday.

Last update: Mon, 20/06/2016 - 19:44
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