Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

December 1, 2007

One week after 2010 World Cup draw, Euro 2008 teams discover their fate

Filed under: EURO 2008 — Ivan @ 10:57 pm

LUCERNE, Switzerland – One week after the 2010 World Cup qualifying draw, 16 teams will discover their path Sunday to win the 2008 European Championship and collect up to US$33.6-million in prize money.

The prize money had been increased by more than 50 per cent since Euro 2004. If the eventual champion wins all its games, it will take home $33.6 million. UEFA has $269 million set aside with teams earning more prize money the further they progress.

The 14 qualified teams join co-hosts Austria and Switzerland in the draw for the June 7-29 event, hoping to avoid the powerhouses and the teams which could create security problems for organizers.

Because of the way UEFA has split the 16 teams into four pots in the draw, there’s a chance that four former champions – Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France – could all be playing each other.

Despite poor current form, including a 2-1 recent loss to Belarus, the Netherlands has been rated the top team of the 14 qualifiers because the criteria was also based on advancing to the 2006 World Cup.

That means the Dutch are grouped with defending champion Greece and the two co-hosts in the pot of top-seeded teams. On current form, only Greece probably deserves to be there. UEFA may consider changing this format for the 2012 European Championship being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

“The regulations for the 2012 championships have not yet been drawn up,” UEFA general secretary David Taylor said Saturday. “The seeding system will be reviewed as a matter of course. It’s a little early to say, but we do want to have a fair balance in the seeding system.

“What we have in terms of the regulations in this particular championship in 2008, the president (Michel Platini) and myself inherited. Euro 2012 is a different matter and we will look at that in the coming years.”

In the second rank of seedings is Croatia, Czech Republic, World Cup holder Italy and Sweden. The third has Germany, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The fourth has France, Poland, Russia and Turkey.

While it seems nonsensical that World Cup runner-up France, which won this competition seven years ago, should be among the weakest group of seeds, that’s the way UEFA’s coefficient of seedings works.

It means that Raymond Domenech’s talented but unpredictable team, which lost twice to Scotland in qualifying, could face at least two of the traditional European powerhouses – Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Netherlands – in the group phase of next year’s championship.

“It’s laughable if the world champions don’t get the final top seeding,” Domenech said. “Who does deserve to be top if not Italy? We were finalists in the World Cup, we qualified for this with points to spare, and there are practically 12 teams ahead of us. I do not understand how.”

Because of the way the teams are split, Greece could wind up facing the three teams it upset to win the title in 2004, when it beat host Portugal twice, France and the Czech Republic.

While the draw is expected to set up some highly charged confrontations on the field, it could also create some problems off it.

If it puts the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia and either Poland or Russia together, that group could be a security nightmare for the organizers. Netherlands-Germany and Germany-Poland matches have frequently led to pre-organized violence, while there are increasing signs that the travelling fans of Croatia and Russia have groups of racist followers who have fought with police.

Organizers don’t have to worry about 40,000 English fans. England failed to qualify, finishing third in its group behind Croatia and Russia, which might inherit tickets that would have gone to English fans.

Taylor said UEFA had a system that would prevent those tickets winding up on the black market.

“We have quote a sophisticated process with regard with the allocation of tickets,” he said. “We cancelled a whole number, thousands, that were to be purchased through agencies that had been screened out.”

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