Euro 2008 Championships - Preview & Guide
The 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, referred to as Euro 2008, will take place in Austria and Switzerland, from 7 June to 29 June 2008. It is the second in a series of three successful joint bids in the competition's history, alongside the 2000 European Football Championship, hosted by Belgium/Holland and the 2012 competition in Poland and Ukraine.
A total of 16 teams will participate in the tournament. Austria and Switzerland will automatically qualify as hosts; Austria will be making its first appearance in the tournament. The remaining 14 teams will be determined through qualifying matches which started in August 2006.The two countries jointly bid to host the games, and faced major competition from Greece/Turkey, Scotland/Ireland, Russia, Hungary, Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina and a 4-way Nordic bid from Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Finland. Austria had already bid with another country before, which was Hungary for Euro 2004. They had eventually lost to Portugal.
Austria/Switzerland, Greece/Turkey, and Hungary were recommended before the final vote. Greece and Turkey were rejected and let Hungary and Austria/Switzerland battle for the win.Switzerland will play all of its group-stage matches at Basel, and Austria will play all of its group-stage matches at Vienna.
In 2004, the Zürich venue became a problem for the organisers. Originally, the Hardturm stadium was to be renovated and used as the city's venue, but legal challenges delayed the plan to a point that would not have allowed the ground to be used in 2008. This created a problem, as the agreement between UEFA and the organizers stipulated that four venues would be used in each country. The problem was solved when the organizers proposed renovating Letzigrund instead; UEFA approved the revised plan in January 2005. The Letzigrund stadium will be ready in September 2007. The qualifying process commenced a month after the 2006 World Cup. Austria and Switzerland have already qualified for the tournament finals as host nations.
The qualifying format has been changed compared to previous tournaments. The winners and runners-up from seven groups will automatically qualify for the Championship, with the hosts filling the other two slots in the 16-team tournament. The change means there will be no play-offs between teams finishing in second place in the groups - they will qualify directly for the finals. Teams finishing in third place will not have any further opportunity to qualify. Six of the qualifying groups contain seven teams, and the other, Group A, contains eight.
Watch the official Euro 2008 Tournament song video by the one and only SHAGGY!