If it ain't broke, don't fix it here

MORRIS DALLA COSTA

, Last Updated: 2:51 AM ET

Football seems determined to fix what doesn't need fixing while allowing what's broken to remain rattling in the wind.

UEFA will announce changes to what has become its most successful tournament -- especially in quality -- when it expands the European Championship to 24 teams from 16 for the 2012 event in Poland and the Ukraine.

The football fathers governing the game can't see their way to move into the modern area by approving something such as video replay to determine goals but they are going to mess with a tournament that last summer provided the world with some of the best football ever seen.

Go figure.

Euro 2008 was a delight, a moment of freshness and enjoyment so often missed when national teams take to the international stage. The quality of football was extraordinary. Whether the 16 teams at the event where the best in Europe is debatable but all except the two host teams, Austria and Switzerland, deservedly earned their way into the competition.

You can argue that qualifying for Euro is more difficult than qualifying for the World Cup.

As such, making the tournament is a true accomplishment and more often than not, guarantees a high-profile, quality tournament.

It's about 10 days shorter in duration than the World Cup making all the games important, intense and the results more unpredictable than its older brother.

But even before the 2008 tournament finished with Spain as the victors, there was a movement afoot to expand the event no doubt on the basis that bigger had to be better.

It came as no surprise that eight teams would be added.

Members of UEFA such as president Michel Platini guarantee the addition of the teams will make the tournament better.

GREATLY ENHANCED

The only thing that's certain is a longer tournament, and that the odds of a British team making the final tournament have now been greatly enhanced.

And that really was the goal in all this.

In recent years, some of the top footballing nations in Europe have missed the tournament.

Some are home to major television networks with wads of cash to spend and fans willing to shell out a great deal of money on the sport.

The most notable to fall in that category was England. It could not get the better of Russia or Croatia in qualifying. No British team made Euro 2008.

European nations abhor the idea of many English fans travelling to the continent and other nations care little about whether a British team is present at major competitions or not. But organizers understand the value of ensuring England make the final event.

As much as they may hate to admit it, England adds a substantial influx of money, colour and profile to whatever tournament they are involved in.

Rightly or wrongly part of the discussion during the tournament was the impact the lack of English team had on the event.

In the long run, the attempt to be all things to all people will only water down a tournament that in the past has undergone numerous changes. The 2008 incarnation was as close to ideal as possible.

Adding eight teams will not only increase the length of the tournament but also will also see nations who should not be competing in this major event, somehow qualifying.

Soccer players need to play fewer games, not more.

Player fatigue from a continual rise in league, European and international fixtures causes not only a drop in the quality of play but increases the risk of injury.

At the same time that UEFA has announced the expansion of Euro, they have also announced the renaming of the UEFA Cup to the UEFA Europa League, a format change that will see 48 teams involved in a Champions League type format.

One can only hope that the powers that be eventually recognize that bigger is not necessarily better.


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