New Delhi: Contested every four years, the UEFA European Championship was first held as the UEFA European Nations Cup in 1960 before changing to the current name in 1968. It consists of a qualifying competition, play-offs and a final tournament.
The draw for the 2012 championship's qualifying took place in Warsaw on February 7, 2010. 51 teams entered to compete for the 14 remaining places in the finals after Poland and Ukraine took the first two spots as the co-hosts. The 51 teams were divided into nine groups of five or six teams who contested home and away fixtures.
The qualifying process began in August 2010 and concluded in November 2011. At the end of the group stage of qualifying in October 2011, the nine group winners along with the second placed team with the best ranking qualified automatically. The remaining eight teams who finished second in their respective groups contested play-offs over two legs, with the winner of each tie qualifying for the final tournament.
The teams that qualified for the finals were then drawn into four groups, of which the top two from each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The top placed teams of each group will be paired with the runners-up of another group in the quarters. The winning teams will then play in the semi-finals, with the two victorious teams then fighting for glory in the Euro 2012 final on July 1st. Extra time and penalty shoot-outs will be used to decide the winner if necessary once the tournament enters the knockout stage.
The Euro 2012 will be the last 16-team finals as the tournament will expand to 24 teams in 2016.
Euro 2012 - Highlights
Euro 2012 - Past Winners
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