Euro 2020: Is there a 3rd and 4th place play-off at the tournament?

The final four teams in the tournament have been decided

Omar Garrick
Saturday 10 July 2021 18:37
Rome steward sings Football’s Coming Home with England fans

The Euro 2020 semi-finals are here, with a place in the final being up for grabs at Wembley Stadium on 11 July.

Italy beat Spain in a thriller on Tuesday, with England now having a chance to book their place in a first major international final since 1966, should they beat Denmark at 8pm on Wednesday.

However, unlike other international tournaments, Euro 2020 won’t be having a third-place play-off.

No matter who fails in the semi-finals, the losers will be treated equally to the other nations that have been eliminated from the competition; they head straight back home.

Did there used to be one?

Yes. Between the years 1960-1980, a third-place play-off was a regular fixture in the European Championships.

Czechoslovakia were the first and last team to win the third-place play-off. In the last ever match of this type, they beat Italy 9-8 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Rome.

Why was it scrapped?

The 1980 European Championships was heavily criticised for having poor attendances and low television views. This was the ultimate reason why they were scrapped.

Uefa undertook a project to expand the format of the tournament, with eight teams contesting the finals for the first time, rather than four.

Competing teams were split into two groups of four. The winners of each group went straight to the final and the runners-up fought for third place.

But the 1980 competition was the last of these tournaments to feature a third-place match. In 1984, UEFA implemented a new format which saw 15 matches, including the semi-finals, being played. This system was utilised until EURO 1996, when the competition was expanded to include 16 teams and 31 games.

This setup was used for four subsequent tournaments, before once again being renovated in 2016, where UEFA expanded the competition to 24 teams qualifying for the finals.

Do other tournaments have third-place play-offs?

The Euros are the only major international competition without a third-place play-off.

Other tournaments, such as the World Cup, Copa America and African Cup of Nations, all include a third-place play-off, and this is usually scheduled a day before the final.

A general consensus exists that a third-place play-off is considered a lower-priority to organisers compared to other fixtures commencing in the relevant competitions. Usually, third-place play-off games are played in smaller stadiums than the arena used for the final.

The largest stadia is utilised for the final, while the semis are hosted by the second and third largest grounds. However, in Euro 2020, both the final and semi-final games are being played in the same location, Wembley Stadium.

Up to 60,000 supporters will be in attendance for each of the final three games, after the government gave the green light for games to edge closer to full capacity.

While there were reports suggesting that the matches may be scheduled at other venues, like Copenhagen and Budapest for the purposes of a sell-out crowd, Uefa confirmed that Wembley would remain the host site.

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