Known by its full title of the UEFA European Football Championship, and more commonly referred to as "Euro (year)". It has been held every 4 years since 1960, coinciding with the Summer Olympic Games. This is the other primary football competition for Europe's national teams. It fills the void between World Cups by being held 2 years out of phase from each World Cup, and within Europe is nearly as highly regarded. Due to the amount of strong teams in Europe, it can also sometimes be harder to win the European Championship than the World Cup - the average FIFA ranking for Spain’s opponents on their path to winning the 2010 World Cup was 17.71, compared to average rankings of 15.67 and 12.17 for their opponents in Euro 2008 and 2012 respectivelynote .
It follows the same basic format as its worldwide cousin. Teams are first required to qualify for the tournament itself through qualifying groups, although the hosts are granted automatic entry into the tournament proper (except for the pan-European 2020 - held in 2021 due to the pandemic - tournament, with host cities spread over 12 countries). For the 2024 edition, the competing nations were divided into ten groups, three with six teams and the other seven having five. Each group resulted in two teams qualifying for the tournament proper, with the other four coming from the new UEFA Nations League tournament.Explanation In the finals themselves there is another group stage which results in 16 teams going through into the knockout stage. The winners are crowned European champions.
This tournament is considered possibly more unpredictable than The World Cup, due in no small part to the shocking victories of Denmark in 1992 (the team was called up a few days before the beginning after the qualified Yugoslavia were disqualified due to the warnote ), and Greece in 2004 (participating for the second time and defeating host Portugal twice in the opening match and in the final) are considered two of the biggest upsets in football history. And then there's Iceland in 2016—the smallest country by far to ever reach the final tournament (population about 330,000), they made it to the quarterfinals, with an upset of England in the round of 16 ranking right up there with Denmark '92 and Greece '04. Least we forget, they managed to knock the Netherlands out in the qualifiers to even be at the tournament. And also Wales in 2016 managed to get to the semifinals in their first major tournament after 48 years (first British team to reach the semis in 20 years despite England).
Germany (1972, 1980, 1996) and Spain (1964, 2008, 2012) are the most successful teams with 3 victories each; Spain is the only team to have won two consecutive editions (with a World Cup victory in the middle).
- 1960 — FranceCities: Marseille / Paris (Final)
Final Four: USSR / Yugoslavia / Czechoslovakia / FranceTop scorers: Viktor Ponedelnik (USSR), Milan Galić (Yugoslavia), Dražan Jerković (Yugoslavia), Valentin Ivanov (USSR) and François Heutte (France) - 2 goals eachOriginal format (until 1976) had only 4 teams advance to the final stage, comprised of semifinals and final. The Soviet Union won their first and last championship against Yugoslavia, after extra time.
- 1964 — SpainCities: Barcelona / Madrid (Final)
Final Four: Spain / USSR / Hungary / DenmarkTop scorers: Jesús María Pereda (Spain), Ference Bene (Hungary) and Dezső Novák (Hungary) - 2 goals eachIn the final, the hosts defeated the champions. This would be the last trophy won by Spain for over 40 years.
- 1968 — ItalyTop scorer: Dragan Džajić (Yugoslavia) - 2 goalsAgain the hosts end up winning the tournament, against Yugoslavia in a replay match, after the final ended 1-1. Most notably, Italy defeated Soviet Union in the semifinal thanks to the coin toss, because neither team was able to score after the end of extra-time.
- 1972 — BelgiumCities: Antwerp / Brussels (Heysel Stadium [Final] / Stade Émile Versé) / Liège
Final Four: West Germany / USSR / Belgium / HungaryTop scorer: Gerd Müller (West Germany) - 4 goalsFirst victory for West Germany, defeating the Soviet Union (in their third final in four editions).
- 1976 — YugoslaviaCities: Belgrade [Serbia] (Final) / Zagreb [Croatia]
Final Four: Czechoslovakia / West Germany / Netherlands / YugoslaviaTop scorer: Dieter Müller (West Germany) - 4 goalsFirst surprising victory. Czechoslovakia was a good team, but was able to defeat the favourite team, West Germany. The final became famous because was the first ending with penalties, and Czechoslovakia player Antonin Panenka scored the last and decisive penalty using the infamous Panenka Kick (named after him), and most commonly named il cucchiaio (the spoon) in the Italian-speaking world.
- 1980 — ItalyCities: Milan / Naples / Rome (final) / Turin
Final Four: West Germany / Belgium / Czechoslovakia / ItalyTop scorer: Klaus Allofs (West Germany) - 3 goalsThe format changed, with 8 teams advancing to the final stage, with two groups of 4 teams. The winners of each group advance to the final. West Germany won their second championship, becoming the first team to do so, against Belgium in the final.
- 1984 — FranceCities: Lens / Lyon / Marseille / Nantes / Paris (Final) / Saint-Étienne / Strasbourg
Final Four: France / Spain / Portugal / DenmarkTop scorer: Michel Platini (France) - 9 goalsFrance, led by the star and by far one of the best players of the decade Michel Platini, won their first championship, defeating Spain.
- 1988 — West GermanyCities: Cologne / Düsseldorf / Frankfurt / Gelsenkirchen / Hamburg / Hanover / Munich (final) / Stuttgart
Final Four: Netherlands / USSR / West Germany / ItalyTop scorer: Marco van Basten (Netherlands) - 5 goalsFirst win for Netherlands, who defeated old rivals West Germany in the semifinals and then Soviet Union in final. This edition is famous because of Marco van Basten, Netherlands striker, who scored in the final what is considered to be the best goal of the Championship and one of the best of all time.
- 1992 — SwedenCities: Gothenburg (Final) / Malmö / Norrköping / Stockholm
Final Four: Denmark / Germany / Sweden / NetherlandsTop scorers: Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands), Tomas Brolin (Sweden), Henrik Larsen (Denmark) and Karl-Heinz Riedle (Germany) - 3 goals eachDenmark did not qualify for this edition, but was called up a few days prior to the beginning after Yugoslavia was disqualified due to the war. Probably the lack of pressure inside the Denmark team was crucial, and they defeated France in the group stages, current champions Netherlands in the semis and finally Germany in the final, winning the trophy.
- 1996 — EnglandCities: Birmingham / Leeds / Liverpool / London (final) / Manchester / Newcastle upon Tyne / Nottingham / Sheffield
Final Four: Germany / Czech Republic / England / FranceTop scorer: Alan Shearer (England) - 5 goalsBest player: Matthias Sammer (Germany)The format was extended, now 16 teams advanced to the final stage, with 4 groups of 4 teams each, the first two of each group advance to the knockout stage. England was considered the best candidate to win the tournament, but they lost on penalties in the semifinal against Germany (now unified), who ended up defeating the Czech Republic (surprise of this edition) in the final and winning their third championship.
- 2000 — Belgium and The NetherlandsCities (Belgium): Bruges / Brussels / Liège / Charleroi
Cities (Netherlands): Amsterdam / Arnhem / Eindhoven / Rotterdam (Final)
Final Four: France / Italy / Netherlands / PortugalTop scorers: Patrick Kluivert (Netherlands) and Savo Milošević (Yugoslavia) - 5 goals eachBest player: Zinedine Zidane (France)Despite having faced each other a lot of times in the past, the final between France and Italy is considered to have ignited the lifelong rivalry between the two sides. Italy, after defeating the host Netherlands in the semis thanks to the penalties (with another cucchiaio by Francesco Totti, after Panenka in 1976), was leading 1-0 in the final. France score the equalizer in the very last minute, and then scored the Golden Goal in extra time, winning the tournament.
- 2004 — PortugalCities: Aveiro / Braga / Coimbra / Faro / Guimarães / Leiria / Lisbon (Estádio da Luz [Final] / Estádio José Alvalade) / Porto (Estádio do Bessa Século XXI / Estádio do Dragão)
Final Four: Greece / Portugal / Netherlands / Czech RepublicTop scorer: Milan Baroš (Czech Republic) - 5 goalsBest player: Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece)This edition was considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Greece, who were competing in just their second tournament, and who was considered by most one of the weakest teams in the tournament, was able to defeat host Portugal in the opening match and advance to the group stage, thus eliminating Spain. Then again won over France in the Quarters, the Czech Republic in the semifinals (after a last-minute goal in extra time), and defeating Portugal again in the final. This was the first time in which the opening and final matches were played by the same teams.
- 2008 — Austria and SwitzerlandCities (Austria): Innsbruck / Klagenfurt / Salzburg / Vienna (Final)
Cities (Switzerland): Basel / Bern / Geneva / Zürich
Final Four: Spain / Germany / Turkey / RussiaTop scorer: David Villa (Spain) - 4 goalsBest player: Xavi (Spain)First trophy for Spain after 44 years. The tournament was remarkable for the surprises of Turkey and Russia. The former advanced to the semifinals thank to two goals in the last minutes, against the Czech Republic in the group stage and Croatia in the quarters.
- 2012 — Poland and UkraineCities (Poland): Gdańsk / Poznań / Warsaw / Wrocław
Cities (Ukraine): Donetsk / Kharkiv / Kyiv (Final) / Lviv
Final Four: Spain / Italy / Germany / PortugalTop scorers: Mario Mandžukić (Croatia), Mario Gómez (Germany), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Alan Dzagoev (Russia) and Fernando Torres (Spain) - 3 goals eachBest player: Andrés Iniesta (Spain)Spain won again, marking their third trophy in just 4 years (there's a World Cup in the middle, the first team to have done so), defeating a surprising Italy.
- 2016 — FranceCities: Bordeaux / Décines (Lyon) / Lens / Lille / Marseille / Nice / Paris / Saint-Denis (Paris) (Final) / Saint-Étienne / Toulouse
Final Four: Portugal / France / Germany / WalesTop scorer & best player: Antoine Griezmann (France) - 6 goalsThis was the first tournament with the format extended to 24 teams, divided in 6 groups with 4 teams each, the first two of each group, and the best 4 third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The tournament was noteworthy for a lot of surprise teams (Iceland and Wales above all). The final was Portugal - France, with the upset win of Portugal, which advanced to the knockout phase only as a third placed team, and defeated the hosts in the final without Cristiano Ronaldo, injured after 20 minutes, winning their first international trophy after years of disappointments.
- 2020 — Pan-Europeannote Cities: Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Baku, Azerbaijan / Bucharest, Romania / Budapest, Hungary / Copenhagen, Denmark / Glasgow, Scotland / London, England (Final) / Munich, Germany / Rome, Italy / Saint Petersburg, Russia / Seville, Spain
Final Four: Italy / England / Spain / DenmarkTop Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) / Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) - 5 goals eachnoteBest Player: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)First itinerant tournament, organised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of UEFA (or probably because no one wanted to host the tournament due to the expensive costs and the economic crisisnote ). The Belgian capital Brussels was intended to be amongst the host cities, but political delays relating to the stadium caused the city to lose their matches in December 2017, with their games being reallocated to London. None of the countries hosting games automatically qualify, but a qualifying host will automatically be placed in the group in their country and host at least two of their group games (for example, Italy were placed into Group A and will play all three of their group games in Rome) - if both countries hosting a group qualify, an additional draw will be held to determine which country hosts the match between them.note First to have the Nations League as a pre-qualifier fall-back. This was the first tournament to feature Finland, due to the goals of Norwich forward Teemu Pukki, whose name is allegedly an obscenity in Malaysia, and North Macedonia. It also marked the return of Scotland to major tournaments, having been absent from either this or the World Cup since 1998. Russia hosted and competed despite being banned from being represented in the Olympics and 2022 World Cup due to doping allegations. On 17 March 2020, the tournament was pushed back to 2021 due to the European coronavirus pandemic causing most leagues to be suspended - postponing it frees up space for those leagues to be able to be finished. Despite it being postponed to 2021, it's still referred to as Euro 2020; changing it to Euro 2021 would have caused a lot of branded items to be destroyed, which would go against UEFA’s aims of making Euro 2020 a sustainable event. In April 2021, due to a lack of guarantees that spectators would be able to attend matches, Dublin was stripped of its matches (its three group games were moved to St. Petersburg and the last 16 match was switched to London) and Spain’s stadium was switched to Seville. After a dramatic tournament, for reasons both footballing and otherwise (Danish captain Christian Eriksen going into cardiac arrest in the middle of the Denmark-Finland match, being saved by the sterling efforts of the stadium's medical team), Italy finally edged out England's 'Young Lions' in a penalty shoot-out at Wembley, after a tense final had ended 1-1.
- 2024 — GermanyCities: Berlin (Final) / Cologne / Dortmund / Düsseldorf / Frankfurt / Gelsenkirchen / Hamburg / Leipzig / Munich / StuttgartAfter Euro 2020 was delayed to 2021, the tournament returns to its normal schedule of taking part in a leap year. It also returns to being held in one country, which returns to Germany for the first time since reunification (although Munich held some games in 2021). The Nations League qualification method loses a spot from this edition.
- 2028 — United Kingdom and IrelandCities (England): Birmingham / Liverpool / London (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium / Wembley (Final)) / Manchester / Newcastle upon Tyne
City (Northern Ireland): Belfast
City (Republic of Ireland): Dublin
City (Scotland): Glasgow
City (Wales): CardiffA joint-bid from the four Home Nations, plus the Republic of Ireland. The tournament returns to England for the first time since 1996 (although London had games in 2021, including the Final), and sees the other four hosts holding a football competition for the first time (albeit with Glasgow being one of the host cities in 2021). It is currently unclear if all five nations will qualify automatically or have to enter the qualifying tournament (with two spots held back for the two best performing non-qualifying hosts if needed).
- 2032 — Italy and Turkeynote Cities (Italy (from)): Bari / Bologna / Cagliari / Florence / Genoa / Milan / Naples / Rome / Turin / Verona
Cities (Turkey (from)): Ankara / Antalya / Bursa / Eskişehir / Gaziantap / Istanbul (Atatürk Stadium / RAMS Park / Ülker Stadium) / Konya / TrabzonA joint-bid that originally started as two separate bids, before Turkey dropped out of the 2028 race and join forces with Italy in 2023. Due to the short amount of time between joining forces and being announced as hosts (unopposed - although Russia had applied for both 2028 and 2032, they were deemed ineligible to host either), the stadia used are currently unknown, but each will have five from their list above. It will be the third time Italy hosts (following 1968 and 1980, with Rome hosting games in 2021), whilst Turkey hosts a football tournament for the first time.