The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012, will be the 14th European Championship for national football teams organized by the UEFA. The final tournament will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July 2012. It is the first time that either nation has hosted the tournament. This bid was chosen by UEFA’s Executive Committee in 2007.
The final tournament features 16 nations, the last European Championship to do so (from Euro 2016 onward, there will be 24 finalists). Qualification was contested by 51 nations between August 2010 and November 2011 to join the two host nations in the tournament. The winner of the tournament gains automatic entry to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup hosted by Brazil.
The joint Poland–Ukraine bid was chosen by a vote of the UEFA Executive Committee at a meeting in Cardiff on 18 April 2007, defeating both Italy and a Croatia–Hungary bid. Poland–Ukraine became the third successful joint bid for the European Championship, after those of Belgium–Netherlands (2000) and Austria–Switzerland (2008). Italy had been considered favorites to win the hosting but incidents of fan violence and a match fixing scandal were widely cited as factors behind their failure.
Eight cities have been selected by UEFA as host venues. In a return to the format used at Euro 1992, Euro 1996 and Euro 2008, each of the four groups will be based around two stadiums each. The host cities Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, Kiev, Lviv are all popular tourist destinations, unlike Donetsk and Kharkiv (the latter having replaced Dnepropetrovsk as a host city in 2009). The obligatory improvement of the football infrastructure includes the building of new stadiums: Six of the eight venues are brand new stadiums currently being constructed ready to open in advance of the tournament; the remaining two (in Poznan and Kharkiv) have undergone major renovations to improve them. Three of the stadiums will fulfill the criteria of UEFA highest category stadiums.
The draw for the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying competition took place in Warsaw on 7 February 2010. 51 teams entered to compete for the 14 remaining places in the finals, alongside co-hosts Poland and Ukraine. These teams were divided into nine groups, with the draw using the new UEFA national team coefficient for the first time in order to determine the seeding.
Twelve of the sixteen finalists participated at the previous tournament in 2008, with England and Denmark returning having last participated in 2004. The Republic of Ireland return after an absence of 24 years to make their second appearance at European finals. One of the co-hosts, Ukraine, makes their debut as an independent nation, having previously won the inaugural as part of the Soviet Union. Euro 2008 winners Spain have qualified to defend their title. They will compete to win an unprecedented third consecutive major tournament, having won both UEFA Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
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