Republic of Ireland confirmed as second seeds for Euro 2016

Uefa outline plans for qualifying tournament

Alex Ferguson was today confirmed as Uefa’s new coaching ambassador. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Alex Ferguson was today confirmed as Uefa’s new coaching ambassador. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 14:43

The Republic of Ireland will be among the second seeds for Euro 2016 qualifying after Uefa outlined plans for the preliminary competition in Nyon today.

They will be joined by Croatia, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic and Hungary.

The format for qualifying was also finalised, with eight groups of six teams and one group of five, with 23 places on offer to for the tournament in France.

England have been placed among the top seeds alongside Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Scotland and Wales are in the pot of the fourth seeds, and Northern Ireland are placed in the pot of fifth seeds. The draw will take place in Nice on February 23rd.

Uefa also announced that the hosts France will play friendly matches against the countries in the five-team ninth group – but these games will not count towards qualifying points.

Organisers are also considering a radical proposal for electronic tickets to be used at the Euro 2016 finals rather than the traditional paper tickets.

The 53 teams will be split into eight groups of six and one group of five. The top two sides in each group plus the best third-placed team will qualify directly for Euro 2016 in France.

The other eight third-placed teams will play each other for four more places in the 24-team tournament. Hosts France will qualify automatically.

The qualifiers will be spread over six days of so-called “international weeks” rather than concentrated into just two, Uefa confirmed.

Previously, the week-long periods allocated to international football have featured one batch of matches on Friday and another on Tuesday, but Uefa now say the game will be more evenly distributed, which will undoubtedly be more lucrative, especially in terms of television money.

“Supporters will get the chance to attend and watch more national team matches than ever before,” said Uefa secretary general Gianni Infantino. “Broadcasters will get more games and more appointments to view. National associations will have a consistent schedule and stable revenue.

“National team football will get greater exposure than before. This is great news for football fans and for football.”

Uefa said that every day of the so-called “week of football” would feature eight to 10 matches, rather than 20 to 30 on the same evening.

Organisers are also considering a radical proposal for electronic tickets to be used at the Euro 2016 finals rather than the traditional paper tickets.

Euro 2016 president Jacques Lambert: “We are looking whether to have e-tickets or paper tickets.

“This is a decision that cannot be taken without in-depth study and looking at issues of security. There is still a lot of work to do before the decision is taken.”

Lambert said the teams in the finals would have group matches spread all over France rather than based around a single city.

He added: “The idea is to have them rotate among different stadia and this system was very much appreciated in the 1998 World Cup because it allowed foreign fans the possibility to enjoy this event with a tourist aspect to it as well as football, and it allowed for people in France to see all the different teams.”

Seeding pots for Euro 2016

Pot 1: Spain (holders), Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pot 2: Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Republic of Ireland

Pot 3: Serbia, Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Norway, Slovakia, Romania, Austria, Poland

Pot 4: Montenegro, Armenia, Scotland, Finland, Latvia, Wales, Bulgaria, Estonia, Belarus

Pot 5: Iceland, Northern Ireland, Albania, Lithuania, Moldova, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus

Pot 6: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands, Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar, France*

*France will be added to the the five-team group at the end of the draw

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