As a true soccer fan, I always get excited about the Euro! This thrilling competition is super rich in history, so it’s no wonder it captures the attention of millions of supporters every time it arrives.
But just how often does the European Cup take place?That’s what you’ll find answered below.
The UEFA European Cup, also known as Euro Cup, is played every four years. It has been so since its first edition in 1960 in France. Its most recent edition was the UEFA Euro 2020, with several European cities as hosts. It was only played in 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic but kept its name.
The above paragraph summarizes this topic well, but there’s definitely more to it.
In this article, we’ll further explore the frequency of this tournament, its history, qualifying criteria, and more. So buckle up for a ride through Europe’s premier international tournament!
How Often Is the UEFA European (Euro) Cup Played?
The UEFA European Cup, also known as European Championship, Euro Cup, or simply Euro, is played every four years.
Since it was first held in France, in the summer of 1960 and throughout its 16 editions, it has been held at four-yearly intervals.
The only technical exception is the UEFA Euro 2020.
It was scheduled to be four years after the Euro 2016 but only played one year later, in 2021, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
This postponement also made Portugal, winners of Euro 2016, the longest-standing defending European champions. Five years instead of the usual four.
That is if you don’t count Euro championships victories in a row. That honor goes to Spain, the only national team to win two consecutive titles (2008 and 2012).
Why Is the UEFA European Cup Played Every Four Years?
The UEFA European Cup is played every four years due to the high number of qualification matches and its scheduling in the even-numbered years between FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Let me explain how the Euro Championships qualification and scheduling work so you can better understand its frequency.
UEFA European Cup Qualification
The qualifying process for the European Championship is long and takes a considerable amount of time.
International qualifying matches are most often played during club soccer seasons. Domestic leagues stop a few days for international games to happen.
Outside of the major international tournaments, there isn’t an international soccer season, per se, where national teams have more than a week or two to get together, train, and play their matches.
The qualifying process for the Euro Cup usually starts immediately after the most recent FIFA World Cup.
In the case of the Euro 2020, though, instead of that (which would be around September 2018), it began in March 2019. The qualifiers for the Euro 2020 ended in November 2020.
For the Euro 2020, 55 UEFA national teams participated in the qualifiers for the 24 places available at the finals tournament.
There were 10 qualifying groups: 5 groups of 5 teams and 5 groups of 6. Each team played twice against other teams in the same group, one at home and one away.
That totaled 8 matches for groups of 5 teams and 10 for groups of 6.
At the end of the group matches, the top 2 group teams achieved direct qualification for the tournament.
The 4 remaining spots were filled with teams from the UEFA Nations League divisions. Four teams from each of the 4 divisions not already qualified for the Euro competed in play-offs for each division. The winner qualified for the Euro 2020.
UEFA European Cup Scheduling
Due to its lengthy qualifying process and to prevent it from coinciding with the World Cup, the Euro is always scheduled to be held between FIFA World Cups in even-numbered years.
For example, the latest FIFA World Cup was in 2022. That means that the next Euro Cup will be in 2024.
And, since World Cup tournaments are likewise played every 4 years, the next World Cup will be 2 years after that, in 2026.
When Was the Last Euro Cup Held?
The last Euro Cup, the UEFA Euro 2022, was held in 2021, one year after its original scheduled date.
The most recent edition of the tournament, with several European cities from different countries as hosts, was initially scheduled for the summer of 2020.
However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed and only played when safer health conditions were met. That happened to be one year later, in 2021.
That is the same reason which forced the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to be held one year after it was supposed to be.
When Is the Next Euro Cup?
The next Euro Cup will happen in 2024, 3 years after the European Cup 2020. It will take place in Germany in the summer of 2024, with 10 host cities.
The opening game of the finals tournament — the major tournament following the qualifying process — is scheduled for Friday, June 14, 2024, at 9:00 PM CEST (8 PM GMT / 3 PM EST / 12 PM PST).
Two teams from Group A will face each other in the Olympiastadion Berlin. The biggest venue of the UEFA Euro 2024, with 70,000 seats, was built for the 1936 Olympic Games and is the home ground of Hertha Berlin, a Bundesliga team.
The big final, where the winners of the UEFA Euro 2024 will be crowned, is scheduled for Sunday, July 14, 2024, at 9:00 PM CEST (8 PM GMT / 3 PM EST / 12 PM PST).
The European title will be decided in the Munich Football Arena. With a 67,000 capacity, it is the home of the German giants Bayern München.
Who Organizes the European Cup?
The European Cup is organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The governing body of European football is responsible for organizing, managing, scheduling, and picking the host countries(country) of the European Cup.
Headquartered in Nyon, Switzerland, Europe’s continental football confederation also oversees the qualifying competition.
In the qualifiers, the 55 national football associations under UEFA’s organizational umbrella compete for a place in the finals tournament — where soccer’s history is written.
- UEFA is for Europe what the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is for the world of association football: the governing body of soccer in the Old Continent.
- UEFA picks one or more countries (or a set of European cities from different countries) to hold the Euro.
- It’s up to UEFA to organize and run the tournament, not the host cities/countries.
Who Has Won the Most Euro Cups?
Germany and Spain have won the most Euro Cups, claiming three titles each, followed by Italy and France, who have each won two. Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic, and the Soviet Union have all won one title each.
UEFA European Championship Winners
Since the start of the European Championship tournament in 1960, ten national teams have won Europe’s major title.
Here is the list of UEFA European Championship winners:
- Most titles (3): Germany won the Euro Cup in 1972, 1980 (as West Germany), and 1996. Spain was victorious in 1964, 2008, and 2012.
- Two titles: Italy won the throphy in 1968 and 2021 (Euro 2020). France was the champion in 1984 and 2000.
- With one European title: Soviet Union (Russia) in 1960, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) in 1976, Netherlands in 1988, Denmark in 1992, Greece in 2004, and Portugal in 2016.
Is the Euro Cup Every 2 or 4 Years?
The Euro Cup is held every 4 years, between FIFA World Cups in even-numbered years. The most recent edition was in 2021*; the next one will be in 2024, with Germany as the host nation.
*The tournament was exceptionally postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is the Next Euro Cup in 2024?
The next Euro Cup will be held in 2024. The opening game of the finals tournament is scheduled for Friday, June 14, 2024, at 9:00 PM CEST (8 PM GMT / 3 PM EST / 12 PM PST). The big final is scheduled for Sunday, July 14, 2024, at 9:00 PM CEST (8 PM GMT / 3 PM EST / 12 PM PST).