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England to play Euro 2028 qualifying matches even if they are hosts

England to play Euro 2028 qualifying matches even if they are hosts

UEFA is considering a plan that could see England compelled to participate in qualifying matches ahead of the 2028 European Championship despite being the primary hosts for the competition, reports the Times.

England, alongside Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, are expected to be one of the co-hosts of the upcoming 24-team tournament.

However, they have been presented with a unique qualification challenge as UEFA intends to allocate a maximum of only two automatic qualification spots for the host nations.

UEFA considers their plan to be the favoured approach, which will see all five host nations engage in the qualifying groups with the two automatic spots reserved for any host nation unable to secure qualification.

If three or more host countries fail to qualify, UEFA would allocate the two reserved spots to the best-performing nations among them.

The official announcement of the Euro 2028 host is scheduled for October 10, with the United Kingdom and Ireland widely expected to be awarded the tournament.

Turkey, the initial rivals to the UK and Ireland for a chance to anchor the tournament, have already switched their attention to the Euro 2032 competition, joining forces with Italy as co-hosts.

Featuring in qualifier tournaments rather than friendlies in the build-up to the tournament could also have better benefits lined up for prospective host nations, with friendlies understood to have a negative effect on a nation’s FIFA world ranking.

Euro 2024 hosts Germany have bagged mixed results in their friendlies, losing 4-1 to Japan which culminated in the untimely dismissal of head coach Hansi Flick. 

Die Mannschaft then seemed to shake off any hangovers from the Flick era to pick up a 2-1 victory over rivals France in their subsequent friendly fixture. 

However, that has done little to bolster confidence in their chances of mounting a title challenge in next year’s tournament.

This development comes after ITV recently announced a new broadcast deal that sees them reclaim the right to cover England matches until June 2028, encompassing the 2026 World Cup and Euro 2028 qualifiers. 

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