The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016 or simply Euro 2016, will be the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organized by UEFA. It is scheduled to be held in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016. Spain are two-time defending champions.
For the first time, the European Championship final tournament will be contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format used since 1996.Under this new format, the finalists will contest a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage including three rounds and the final. 19 teams (the top two from each of the nine qualifying groups and the best third-placed team) joined France who qualified automatically as hosts; a series of two-legged play-off ties between the remaining third-placed teams in November 2015 decided the last four spots at the final tournament.
France was chosen as the host nation on 28 May 2010, after a bidding process in which they beat Italy and Turkey for the right to host the 2016 finals.The matches will be played in ten stadia in ten cities: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Étienne, and Toulouse. It will be the third time that France hosts the tournament, after the inaugural tournament in 1960 and the 1984 finals. The French team have won the European Championship twice: in 1984 and 2000.
A total of 53 teams competed for 23 places in the final tournament to join France, who have automatically qualified as hosts. Gibraltar competed in a European Championship qualifying for the first time since their affiliation to UEFA in 2013. The seeding pots were formed on the basis of the UEFA national team coefficients, with the Euro 2012 champions Spain and hosts France automatically top seeded.
The 53 national sides were drawn into eight groups of six teams and one group of five teams. The group winners, runners-up, and the best third-placed team (with the results against the sixth-placed team discarded) qualify directly to the final tournament. The remaining eight third-placed teams will contest two-legged play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers.
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