Friday, September 26, 2008

Jack, Chloe and 24 Teams in the Euro

24? The only 24 I want see has that crazy Chloe hacker chick and Keifer Sutherland saving the day with his man bag full of junk and the cell phone battery that won't die.

24 teams in the Euro?

No thanks.

But starting in 2016 and beyond, that's what you're going to get. Franz Beckenbauer confirmed it yesterday that UEFA today will ratify that the European championship finals will expand to 24 teams, up eight teams from the current 16.

Talk about messing with as close to football perfection as you're gonna get. Talk about fixing something that ain't broken. Euro is a steadfast second to the World Cup in terms of competitiveness and fan interest. Some, dare say, that it's a better tournament. And in many respects, it is. With four groups of four and the top two in each group advancing to the quarterfinals, you have perfect synergy. You have three group games that are intense and leave no margin for error. Toss in the fact that the groups aren't watered down with minnows, and you have the "perfect tournament."

But we're talking like fans, aren't we? We're not talking like executives, big shots with debts to a ledger sheet. Money talks and Euro swells.

With 24 teams, the tournament grows to 51 matches vs. the 31 we have now. Of the 53 teams that make up UEFA, close to half will now make up the continental final. Suddenly, UEFA has turned into the NHL and NBA, where everybody is invited to the playoffs.

So kick back and get ready for Andorra, Malta, Cyprus and a host of former Soviet republics to challenge for spots in the Euro finals. At least England and Ireland have a better shot of getting in--if that's a bright spot.

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