New Delhi: UEFA invited bidders on Tuesday to host a 24-team European Championship in 2028, though did not rule out changing the dates and format of the tournament.
The European soccer body has been looking at whether to expand the tournament again to include 32 of its 55 member nations, officials said in July during the successful Euro 2020.
UEFA set a March deadline on Tuesday for members to register interest in hosting a 24-team, 51-game format in 2028 though cautioned plans could change.
Until tournament rules are confirmed, information regarding dates, the number of participating teams and the number of matches are provisional, UEFA said.
UEFA is looking for its own hosts amid uncertainty in the international soccer schedule as FIFA pushes proposals to stage the World Cup every two years despite widespread European opposition.
Even if FIFA succeeds in getting support for a biennial tournament, a 2028 World Cup is unlikely because of a back-to-back clash with the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics scheduled July 21-Aug. 6.
UEFA set a September 2023 target for its hosting decision, less than five years before the scheduled kickoff in June 2028.
Russia and Turkey are possible candidates to host the tournament alone without needing to build any of the 10 stadiums UEFA requires. A stadium with at least 60,000 capacity is needed for the final.
Spain could be a candidate if it’s not involved in bidding for the 2030 World Cup. That project would likely be a co-hosting plan with Portugal.
“Joint bids are permitted (for Euro 2028), provided that the bidding countries are geographically compact,” UEFA said.
Staging the Euro 2020 in 11 different countries, after Belgium and Ireland dropped out of the original project, was a one-off experiment, UEFA has long insisted.
Two co-hosts would get automatic entries in the finals tournament, but a three-nation candidacy “cannot be guaranteed” to all get a place, UEFA said.
UEFA’s marquee national team event was for 16 teams from 1996 through 2012 co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. It expanded to 24 teams for Euro 2016 in France.
Euro 2024 is being hosted by Germany.