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Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Uefa admit scheduling of Ireland-France game was problematic

Acting general secretary Theodore Theodoridis has discussed the pros and cons of the 24-team format.

UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis has noted Euro 2016's
UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis has noted Euro 2016's "Cinderella stories".
Image: EMPICS Sport

UEFA HAVE FOR the first time publicly acknowledged that the scheduling of the France-Ireland clash was problematic.

After beating Italy in the group stages, Ireland had just three days to prepare for their last-16 encounter with France, whereas the hosts got six days following their progression to the second round.

Many felt that Ireland were at a significant disadvantage owing to this disparity. Speaking after the match, team captain Seamus Coleman suggested France’s extra three days’ rest was a factor in influencing the game’s outcome, while acting Uefa general secretary Theodore Theodoridis has now acknowledged that the situation was less than ideal.

In an interview with Reuters as quoted by ESPN, Theodoridis discussed the pros and cons of the revamped 24-team format, citing the Ireland game as one of the drawbacks of this new initiative.

“At the end of the day you have eight more countries that have strongly helped develop football in their countries,” he said. “You’ve raised the competitiveness and raised the possibilities for people to dream.

“But the 16-team format was simpler. There were cases like that of Albania, who had to wait three days to know if they had qualified for the last 16, there was also the difference in recovery time of three days between France and Republic of Ireland.”

Overall though, he feels the organisation have been vindicated after their decision to expand the tournament — a move that proved controversial when it was initially announced.

“It’s a model,” he said. “We will be using it as a positive image for the expansion.

“It’s pleasant for football to have one or two Cinderella stories. If you always have the same eight teams qualifying it becomes a little boring.”

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Paul Fennessy

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