UEFA European Championship qualifying
This page is a summary of the UEFA European Championship qualifying, the process that UEFA-affiliated national association football teams go through in order to qualify for the UEFA European Championship.
|Number of teams||55 (currently)|
|Qualifier for||UEFA European Championship|
|Related competitions||UEFA Nations League|
In this article, the years represent the final tournaments of the European Championship, and are not meant to correspond to the actual dates when the qualification matches were played.
|played at least one match[b]||28||33|
|qualified through qualification||4||4||4||4||4||7||7||7||7||15||14||15||14||14||23||24||23|
The 1968, 1972, and 1976 qualifying tournaments included a group stage of eight groups. The eight group winners advanced to a quarter-final stage, which was still part of the qualifying. The four quarter-final winners progressed to the finals. Again, the host nation was chosen among the four finalists.
From 1980 onwards, the hosting rights would be assigned in advance, and the host teams would be guaranteed automatic spots in the finals. Also, the format was expanded to feature 8 teams. The 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 qualifications included seven qualifying groups, and the seven group winners would progress to the finals joining the host team, although in 1992 one of the group winners was eventually banned from participating and was replaced by the runner-up of its group.[Note 1992]
From 1996, a 16-team format was employed. The 1996 qualifying consisted of eight groups; the eight group winners and the six best runners-up qualified directly, while the two worst runners-up met in a play-off to determine the last team to earn a spot in the finals, joining the host country.
In 2000, the winners of the nine qualifying groups qualified for the finals, and so did the best runner-up. The remaining eight runners-up entered a play-off round, where they were paired off against each other; the winners of each pairing qualified too. For the first time, there were two host countries; they both received automatic berths in the finals.
In 2004, along with the host team, the ten qualifying group winners qualified, as did the winners of each of the five play-off ties which were contested by the ten runners-up.
In 2008, the top two teams from each of the seven qualifying groups joined the two host teams to bring the number of finalists to 16.
The 2012 qualification used a format similar to that of 2000: spots were given to nine group winners and the best runner-up, and the remaining eight runners-up entered play-offs to determine the remaining four finalists, with automatic berths being guaranteed to the two host countries.
From 2016, the finals format was expanded again, now featuring 24 teams. The 2016 qualifying included nine groups; the winners, the runners-up, and the best third-placed team qualified directly, while the remaining eight third-placed teams formed four play-off pairings to determine the last four finalists. The host nation still qualified automatically.
For the 2020 finals, hosted by multiple cities across Europe, there were no automatic qualifying berths. 20 of the 24 qualifying places went to the winners and runners-up of the ten groups of the 2020 qualifying, while the remaining four were determined via play-offs, which were formed based on the teams' performances in the newly created UEFA Nations League and not in the qualifying itself. From each of the four divisions of the 2018–19 Nations League, the four best-placed teams not yet qualified for Euro 2020 (the group winners, unless already qualified) advanced to a play-off bracket for that division consisting of semi-finals and a final. The four final winners qualified for the Euro main tournament, which was actually postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
The structure of the 2024 qualifying is yet to be announced. The host will receive a direct spot, and another 23 finalists will be determined via qualifiers.
All national teams that are members of UEFA are eligible to enter the qualification for the European Championship. A total of 56 distinct entities have made attempts to qualify for the European Championship. Of those, 55 are still active in the competition. Due to political changes, a few of the entities have appeared under multiple incarnations (see the footnotes to the below table), and the East Germany team is now defunct.
- Successor teams inheriting the records of former teams (as considered by UEFA and FIFA)
- Czechoslovakia dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and was succeeded by the Czech Republic from the 1996 qualification onwards.
- After completing the 1992 qualification, the Soviet Union dissolved into multiple countries and was succeeded and replaced by the provisional Commonwealth of Independent States team for the 1992 finals, which in turn was succeeded by Russia from the 1996 qualification onwards.
- SFR Yugoslavia broke up into multiple countries and was succeeded from the 2000 qualification by FR Yugoslavia, later renamed as Serbia and Montenegro. It entered the 2008 qualification, but, before playing any matches, split into the independent countries of Serbia and Montenegro and was succeeded and replaced by Serbia.
- West Germany entered the 1992 qualification, but, before playing any matches, reunified with East Germany and was succeeded and replaced by the reunited nation of Germany.
- Teams competing as parts of other teams
- East Germany entered the 1992 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches, joined West Germany, and since then competes as part of the reunited nation of Germany.
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine previously competed as parts of the Soviet Union (1960–1992). All of them except Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also competed in the Euro 1992 finals as parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia (later renamed as North Macedonia), Montenegro, and Slovenia previously competed as parts of SFR Yugoslavia (1960–1992). Kosovo and Montenegro then competed as parts of FR Yugoslavia, later renamed as Serbia and Montenegro (2000–2004). Kosovo then competed as part of Serbia (2008), before unilaterally breaking off from it and eventually being admitted to UEFA.
- Slovakia previously competed as part of Czechoslovakia (1960–1992).
- Renamed teams
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||3/6||4/5||4/7||2/6+p||3/6+p||4/6+p|
| Czech Republic (1996—)
| Germany (1992—)
West Germany (1968–1988)
| North Macedonia (2020—)
|Republic of Ireland||pr||QF||3/4||4/4||2/4||3/5||3/5||1/5||2/4||2/6+p||2/5+p||3/5||3/7||2/6+p||3/6+p||3/5+p|
| Russia (1996—)
Soviet Union (1960–1992)
| Serbia (2008—)
Serbia and Montenegro (2004)
FR Yugoslavia (2000–2004)
- golden background = successful qualifying campaign
- grey background = did not take part in qualifying
- bold red typeface = participated in the final tournament
|X/Y||Came Xth in a group of Y teams|
|X/Y+p||Came Xth in a group of Y teams, then qualified through a play-off round|
|QW||Qualified as quarter-final winner|
|X/YQW||Came Xth in a group of Y teams, then qualified as quarter-final winner|
|X/Ydsq||Qualified as Xth in a group of Y teams, but was banned from participating in the finals (Yugoslavia in 1992)[Note 1992]|
|X/Y||Came Xth in a group of Y teams|
|X/Y+p||Came Xth in a group of Y teams, then was eliminated in a play-off round|
|QF||Was eliminated in the quarter-finals|
|X/YQF||Came Xth in a group of Y teams, then was eliminated in the quarter-finals|
|r16||Was eliminated in the round of 16|
|pr||Was eliminated in the preliminary round|
|X/Yinv||Failed to qualify coming Xth in a group of Y teams, but was invited in the finals as a replacement (Denmark in 1992)[Note 1992]|
|Qhost||Qualified automatically as host|
|Association was not a UEFA member|
|—||Team did not enter despite association being a UEFA member|
|w||Entered but withdrew before playing any matches|
|s||Was suspended from taking part (Yugoslavia in 1996)[Note 1992]|
The below table compares the overall records of all teams that have participated in qualification. Teams are ordered by points using the three points for a win system, then by goal difference, and then by goals scored. Note that this order does not represent any official rankings, and qualification tournaments are not direct competitions between all teams.
The "Qualifying attempts" column only counts qualifying campaigns where the team played at least one match, while the "Appearances in the finals" also include automatic qualifiers.
The table is accurate as of UEFA Euro 2020.
|Team has won the European Championship|
|Team has qualified for the main tournament|
|Team hasn't qualified for the main tournament|
|Team is defunct (and never qualified for the main tournament)|
Notes on the table:
- The 1992 qualifying attempt is treated as successful for Yugoslavia and unsuccessful for Denmark, even though Yugoslavia did not appear in the 1992 finals while Denmark did.[Note 1992]
- The Austria vs Greece match (1968 qualifying), which was declared void, is not taken into account.
- For matches that were annulled and then replayed, only the replays are counted. These include Netherlands vs Cyprus (1988 qualifying) and Georgia vs Russia (2004 qualifying).
- For matches where the scorelines were awarded, the awarded scorelines, rather than the original ones, are taken into account. These include Denmark vs Sweden (2008 qualifying), Italy vs Serbia (2012 qualifying), Serbia vs Albania (2016 qualifying), and Montenegro vs Russia (2016 qualifying).
- In the 2016 qualifying, Serbia was deducted 3 points and Croatia was deducted 1 point, which is reflected in the table.
in the finals
|Overall qualification record||Points|
|3|| Czech Republic
Serbia and Montenegro
|15||Republic of Ireland||16||3||3||130||53||41||36||190||141||+49||200||1.538|
|34||Bosnia and Herzegovina||6||0||0||65||26||12||27||95||94||+1||90||1.385|
|40|| North Macedonia
- Note 1992: Yugoslavia won their 1992 qualifying group and were due to compete at UEFA Euro 1992, but were banned from participating as the country was under international sanctions by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 because of the Yugoslav Wars. The sanctions also resulted in the team being banned from entering the 1996 qualification. Denmark, who had originally failed to qualify for the 1992 finals finishing second in Yugoslavia's qualifying group, were invited to replace Yugoslavia in the finals. In the tables in this article, the 1992 qualifying campaign is treated as successful for Yugoslavia and unsuccessful for Denmark.
- "European Championship 1968". RSSSF. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- "United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 (Implementing Trade Embargo on Yugoslavia)". University of Minnesota Human Rights Center. Retrieved 27 July 2014.