England’s Euro 2028 Conundrum: Qualifiers Despite Hosting
As the England side eagerly anticipates the Euro 2028, a curious decision by Uefa is set to break from tradition. Even if they are the principal hosts, the Three Lions may still have to prove their mettle through qualifying matches.
The Five-Nation Hosting Landscape
With the Euro 2028 expected to spread its charm across England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, there’s a twist in the tale. The governing body, Uefa, is planning to permit just two automatic qualification spots. This comes hot on the heels of ITV confirming their new broadcasting deal, including the Euro 2028 qualifiers.
Uefa’s favoured course of action, as reported by The Times, would involve all five hosting nations participating in the qualifying groups. Should any host nation fall short, the two automatic spots would act as a safety net. In a scenario where three or four host nations stumble, the top two would be granted the lifeline.
With the official awarding ceremony on October 10, the UK and Ireland’s chances are looking bright. Their primary rivals for the Euro 2028, Turkey, seem to be shifting their sights, now collaborating with Italy for the Euro 2032 bid.
A Nod Towards Competitiveness?
It appears there’s a silver lining for host nations opting for competitive qualifiers instead of friendlies leading to the main event. The recent fiasco with Germany, the Euro 2024 hosts, is a case in point. Their lacklustre friendly performances, climaxing in a 4-1 defeat to Japan, led to the ousting of their head coach, Hansi Flick. Beyond just performance, playing friendlies can also tarnish a team’s FIFA world ranking.
ITV Secures Broadcasting Rights
ITV’s announcement on Monday spoke of its renewed partnership with Uefa, securing the rights to broadcast England’s matches until June 2028. This encompasses the 2026 World Cup and Euro 2028 qualifiers. While exact details of the deal concerning the Euro 2028 qualifiers remain confidential, the broadcaster’s vision aligns with England’s potential hosting status.
The end of Channel 4’s rights to England’s matches is nigh, and ITV’s deal ensures the action stays on terrestrial TV. ITV and BBC will jointly air the European Championships in 2024 and 2028, as well as the 2026 World Cup final tournaments.
In a public statement, ITV shared: “The first qualifying campaign will be England’s bid to reach the 2026 Fifa World Cup finals in North America, followed by the European qualifiers to Uefa Euro 2028.” Additionally, the deal includes all of England’s Nations League matches and friendlies, amounting to roughly ten matches per season.
Niall Sloane, ITV’s director of sport, voiced the channel’s enthusiasm: “We’re delighted to bring the England men’s team back to ITV, which keeps coverage of their progress between major tournaments on free-to-air television. We have an experienced team here who are looking forward to bringing viewers all the action and insight from England’s qualification campaigns in the coming years.”