Posted on 20th June 2012
With the Olympics taking place in London this summer, this year is one of the most exciting ever in terms of British sport. In fact I’ve been so busy thinking about the Olympics that I’d completely forgotten about Wimbledon, which is of course another major British sporting event. But there’s not only lots of sport happening in the UK this summer, as there are all sorts of thrilling events taking place internationally as well. Football fans will be well aware of the fact that Euro 2012 is in full swing, and I thought that it might be fun to take a quick look at this major football competition.
UEFA, which is the ‘Union of European Football Associations’, has held football competitions every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered years between World Cup tournaments. Originally the competition was called the ‘UEFA European Nations Cup’, but now they are known as ‘Euro’, then whichever year the competition is taking place), hence this year we have ‘Euro 2012’.
Although the first competition was held in 1960, the idea for a European football tournament germinated in 1927. A man called Henri Delaunay, who worked for the French Football Federation, wanted to start a tournament that would involve multiple European nations. Sadly Delaunay died before the first competition was held, however the trophy awarded to the winning team each year is named after him.
In the first competition in 1960 17 teams entered and the final was between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The former won by two goals to one. Four years later, Spain hosted the second tournament and this time 29 teams entered, making it even more of a major event. The Soviet Union made it to the final for the second time running, but this year they were beaten by the host country.
As the years went on, more and more teams entered and UEFA gradually expanded the number of teams allowed to compete in the finals from four to eight and then in 1996 16 teams were allowed to take part. From 2016 24 teams will be allowed to compete, making the next competition the biggest ever. As the competition got bigger, so did the trophy and the latest one is 60 cm tall and weighs a hefty 8kg. It is made out of sterling silver.
In order for a team to qualify they must play against other teams in their assigned groups and score the highest number of points that they can by winning matches and scoring as many goals as possible. Once they’ve got through this round, 16 teams travel to the host country. This year Poland and Ukraine are co-hosting the tournament. Currently the 16 teams are playing against the teams in their new groups, which are simply named ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’. Teams must try and win their group and then try and climb up through the quarterfinals, semi finals and then eventually the big grand final at the end.
The winning teams so far have been:
1960: Soviet Union
1972: West Germany
1980: West Germany
As things stand at the moment in Euro 2012, the teams are still in the group stages. Czech Republic is at the top of Group A, Germany is at the top of Group B, Spain is at the top of Group C and England is at the top of Group D.
Luckily England is doing rather well so far, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope that we stay in the competition and maybe even win this year!