European Championships Betting Offers & Free Bets – 23rd March 2023 to 14th July 2024

Fast Facts

  • When: 23rd March 2023 to 14th July 2024
  • Where: Various stadiums
  • Watch: Channel 4, Viaplay & S4C
  • Official Website: UEFA Euro 2024

The European Championships (the Euros) is one of the pinnacles of the international football calendar. As you’ve probably guessed, the tournament is run specifically for members and countries within the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which then decides who is the best team within Europe.

The tournament is run every four years with the finals held during the otherwise football deprived summer, giving a welcome injection of fixtures to spice up the off season. This is a high profile tournament which should have us sitting with offers up to our ears.

Existing Customer Free Bets & Money Back Offers

Bet £10 In-Play, Get a £5 Free Bet

Place an in-play single bet of £10 or more on Poland v Netherlands or Slovenia v Denmark playing on Sunday 16th June (min odds 1/2) and you can get a free £5 bet to use in-play on the Serbia v England game playing at 20:00 on Sunday 16th June.

Singles only, max £5 free bet per customer. Minimum stake £10, min odds 1/2. Bets which are void or cashed out will not apply for the promotion. Free bet will be credited by 20:00 on 16/06/24, valid in-play on the selected game. 18+, T&Cs apply. #ad
Bet £25, Get a £5 Free Bet

Opt-in and place bets totalling £25+ on football (min odds evens) and if there are 3.5+ goals in the Serbia v England game on the 16th June, you could get a £5 free bet. Qualifying bets must be placed before 20:00 on 16/06/24 and settled before 23:59 on 16/06/24.

Opt In required; Bet a total of £25+ on football from 14/06 8 pm to 16/06 8 pm; Min odds and bet exclusions apply; Stake not returned; T&C apply; 18+ #ad
Build Your Bet Free Matched Bet

Opt-in and place a pre-match Build Your Bet on the Serbia v England game and you could get a free bet matching your stake up to £5 to use on another Build Your Bet market. Applies to bets of £1 or more, minimum odds of 1/2.

18+, UK and ROI customers only. Applies to first qualifying bet on the selected match from 12:00 on 14/06/24 to 20:00 on 16/06/24. One per customer. Minimum stake £1, max free bet £5. Free bets valid for 7 days to use on a Build Your Bet market. Cashed out bets will not be valid. T&Cs apply. #ad
Euro Finals Group Stage Predictor

Win up to £1,000,000 with bet365's Euro Finals Group Stage Predictor. No purchase necessary. 1 entry per user. T&Cs apply

Euro Finals Group Stage Predictor Win up to £1,000,000 with bet365's Euro Finals Group Stage Predictor No purchase necessary. 1 entry per user. T&Cs apply #ad
Euros Predictor Game & Prize Draw

For each game day during the Euros, answer the six questions on that day's matches and if you get all six correct, you could win a share of £5,000 in cash. There are also free bet consolation prizes for getting four and five answers correct. This is free to enter.

Correct Answers Prize
4 £1 in Free Bets
5 £3 in Free Bets
6 £5,000 Cash

Each day that you play you will also get an entry into a prize draw to win one of 3,500 cash prize with a top prize of £5,000.

New and existing verified customers. Promotion runs 12:00 on 11/06/24 to 20:00 on 14/07/24. Each game day's entries must be made by the scheduled kick-off time of the first match that day. T&Cs apply, 18+. #ad
£10,000 Cash Drop for Each Goal Scored

During the Euros, Unibet will randomly deposit £10,000 in cash in to accounts in various amounts every time a goal is scored at the tournament. Customers will have 90 minutes from when a goals is scored to opt-in and claim their prize or it will be removed. Penalty shootouts and goals disallowed by VAR do not count.

Only goals scored in normal time and extra time will count, penalty shootouts are ineligible. Goals ruled out by VAR will not count. Promotion runs 14/06/24 to 14/07/24. Prizes will be distributed within 5 minutes of goal being scored. The randomly selected customers will have 90 minutes from the cash being credited to log-in, opt-in and claim prize before it is removed. Customers will have needed to place a bet within the last 3 years to be eligible. 18+, T&Cs apply. #ad
#PickYourPunt Refund on England & Scotland Games

On any England or Scotland game at the Euros, create and place a bet on your own pre-match #PickYourPunt market and if it loses, 100% of your stake could be refunded with a free bet up to £10. Qualifying bets must have at least 4 legs with minimum combined odds of 3/1.

Applies to bets on the specified games played between 14/06/24 and 14/07/24. Minimum £0.50 free bet, max £10 free bet per customer per game. Bets on pre-existing or boosted market will not count. Free Bet credited within 24 hours of bet settlement and will be removed after 72 hours if not used in full. Void bets and free bet stakes are not valid. 18+. Full T&Cs Apply. #ad
25% Bet Builder Boosts on Every Game

On each game at the Euros, you could boost your potential Bet Builder winnings by 25%. One boost per customer per match, minimum odds of 3/1 apply.

18+. Digital customers only. Min Odds of (3/1). Max Stake 20. Available on one bet per event. Boost % can vary. Boost will be added once all selections have been settled. Max boost payout £/€1,000. Offer does not apply to multiple bets. Free/void/cashed out bets won't qualify. T&Cs apply. #ad
Goalscorer Acca Free Bet Refund

Place a £10 first/last/anytime goalscorer accumulator at the Euros and if it loses you could get a £5 free bet to use on a Bet Builder. You can qualify for this three times each weekly period. Bets must have at least 2 selections with combined odds of 2/1 (3.0) or greater to qualify.

Minimum stake £10, max free bet £5. Minimum 2 selections with combined odds of at least 2/1. Qualifying weekly periods are 15:00 on 14/06/24 to 20:00 on 21/06/24, 15:00 on 22/06/24 to 20:00 on 28/06/24, 15:00 on 29/06/24 to 20:00 on 04/07/24 and 15:00 on 05/07/24 to 20:00 on 11/07/24. T&Cs apply, 18+. #ad
Euros Top Goal Scorer Prize Draw

Place a bet of £10 or more on the Top Goal Scorer market at the 2024 European Championships and if you win you can get an entry into a prize draw to win one of ten £100 cash prizes.

Best must be placed on the Top Goal Scorer market between 3rd June and 7th July 2024. Minimum stake £10. Ten winners will be selected at random on Monday 15th July. #ad
Bet £10 on a Create A Bet, Get Free Bets for Goals

On the Serbia v England game, place a £10 Create A Bet with 3+ selections and you could get a free £1 bet for each goal scored in the match. Minimum odds of evens (2.0) apply.

18+ UK residents only. Promotion valid once per customer. Free bets credited on bet settlement, valid for 7 days. Bet must be a Create A Bet placed on the specified game. Minimum 3 selections, minimum odds 2.0. Cashed out and void bets are ineligible. T&Cs apply. #ad
Goal Fever Cash Bonus at the Euros

Place a pre-match single bet on the Match Result (W-D-W) market of selected games at the Euros and if your team wins by 3+ goals, you could get a cash bonus on your winnings of 25%.

Selected matches only. Applies to pre-match single bets. Bonus paid in cash on winnings not on stake. Applies to 90 minutes. In-play bets, free bet stakes, special or boosted markets, void bets and cancelled bets are excluded. Bonus paid within 24 hours of bet settlement. 18+ T&Cs apply. #ad
2 Goals Ahead Early Payout Offer

Get selections settled early if the team you back goes two goals ahead with bet365. Place a pre-match bet on the standard Full Time Result market for Soccer games from selected competitions, and get your selections settled early if the team you back goes two goals ahead with bet365. New and Eligible customers only.

Bet restrictions, time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. #ad
Bet £10, Get 10 Casino Spins

Place a Create-A-Bet of £10 or more on the Serbia v England game playing on Sunday 16th June (20:00 KO) and you can get 10 spins to use on the Big Football Bonus QuinnBet Casino game. Minimum odds of evens (2.0) apply.

Max 10 free spins per customer. Spins credited within 24 hours bet settlement, valid for 7 days. Maximum win from free spins is £200. Free spin value £0.10 per spin. #ad
Acca Bonuses and Insurance with Acca Flex

Place a pre-match acca on selected markets such as the Match Result and Both Teams to score and if it wins, you could get a cash bonus of between 2.5% and 50%. If just one leg of your bet loses, you could get a cash refund of up to £10. Apples to bets with 5+ legs, each with odds of at least 1/2. Bonuses will be:

  • 5 Legs - 2.5% Bonus
  • 6 Legs - 10% Bonus
  • 7 Legs - 15% Bonus
  • 8 Legs - 20% Bonus
  • 9 Legs - 25% Bonus
  • 10 Legs - 30% Bonus
  • 11 Legs - 40% Bonus
  • 12+ Legs - 50% Bonus
New and existing customers. Minimum 5 legs, minimum odds 1/2 per leg. Applies to pre-match bets on Match Result, Both Teams to Score, Match Result & Both Teams to Score, Half-Time/Full-Time, Total Goals Over/Under, Match Result & Total Goals Over/Under, Correct Score, Double Chance and 1st Half Over/Under. Bets placed on coupons are excluded. Free bets, boosts, cashed out bets, perm bets or bets where there are less than 5 legs for any reason are ineligible. T&Cs apply, 18+. #ad
Boosted Odds on the Euros

New and existing customers can get odds boosts to increase the price of bets on a European Championships match. There will be a minimum of one odds boost available per customer per day with a maximum boosted stake of £50. Select 'Boost' from your betting slip to take advantage.

Eligible new and existing UK & IRE customers only. Deposits made by PayPal, Moneybookers, Paysafe, Neteller or Skrill are excluded. Enhanced odds markets cannot be boosted. 18+. T&Cs apply. #ad
Acca Bonuses Up to £5k

On European Championship matches and other sports, bet on an accumulator with 10bet and you could get a bonus of up to £5,000 in cash if it wins. The amount of bonus applied will depend on how many legs your acca has. Bets must be trebles or above. Each selection must have odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater.

Legs Bonus
3 5%
4 10%
5 15%
6 or 7 20%
8 or 9 30%
10 or 11 40%
12 50%
13 60%
14 70%
15+ 100%
Applies to successful acca bets of 3+ selections; Min odds of 1/2 per selection; Bet exclusions apply; Max £5K; Bonus % depends on bet type; T&C apply; 18+ #ad
Double Delight/Hat-Trick Heaven at the Euros

On selected European Championship games, Betfred will offer double the odds on the first goalscorer if they score two goals in that game, and treble odds if they score three or more goals. This can apply to pre-match bets, in-play bets, or both, please check the Betfred website for a full list if qualifying matches. Note that in-play bets will be settled on the next goalscorer and any subsequent goals.

See Betfred website for a full list of applicable matches. Own goals do not count, 90 minutes only. In-play offer refers to goals scored after bet placement. T&Cs apply, 18+. #ad
Euros £5k Golden Goal Predictor Game

Predict the first goalscorer and the time in minutes of the first goal in the Serbia v England game and if you are correct you could win a share of £5,000. Entries must be made before the match kicks-off at 20:00 on the 16th June, one free entry per customer.

Own goals do not count. If more than one person correctly predicts the Golden Goal, prize will be shared. One free entry per customer per match. Max 1 entry per customer in total. 18+, T&Cs apply. #ad
Euros 1-2-Free Predictor

On selected European Championship matches, predict the correct score of the three games and if you get all three correct, you could get £50 in cash. If you get two correct you could get a free £5 bet and you could get a free £1 bet for one correct selection. This is free to play, one per customer per week.

18+ UK and Ireland customers only. Entry can be completed online or via mobile. One entry per customer per week. Customers who opened accounts with certain deposit methods are excluded. Entry must be made before the first match kicks off. Cash and free bets will be credited within 24 hours of completion. T&Cs apply. #ad

Stats Articles

Euro Finals: Group Stage – Matchday 1

Friday 14th June

  • 20:00 Germany v Scotland

Saturday 15th June

  • 14:00 Hungary v Switzerland
  • 17:00 Spain v Croatia
  • 20:00 Italy v Albania

Sunday 16th June

  • 14:00 Poland v Netherlands
  • 17:00 Slovenia v Denmark
  • 20:00 Serbia v England

Monday 17th June

  • 14:00 Romania v Ukraine
  • 17:00 Belgium v Slovakia
  • 20:00 Austria v France

Tuesday 18th June

  • 17:00 Turkey v Georgia
  • 20:00 Portugal v Czech Republic

Event Stats

Qualifying Group A

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Spain (Q) 8 7 0 1 25 5 20 21
2 Scotland (Q) 8 5 2 1 17 8 9 17
3 Norway 8 3 2 3 14 12 2 11
4 Georgia (PO) 8 2 2 4 12 18 -6 8
5 Cyprus 8 0 0 8 3 28 −25 0

Qualifying Group B

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 France (Q) 8 7 1 0 29 3 26 22
2 Netherlands (Q) 8 6 0 2 17 7 10 18
3 Greece (PO) 8 4 1 3 14 8 6 13
4 Republic of Ireland 8 2 0 6 9 10 -1 6
5 Gibraltar 8 0 0 8 0 41 −41 0

Qualifying Group C

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 England (Q) 8 6 2 0 22 4 18 20
2 Italy (Q) 8 4 2 2 16 9 7 14
3 Ukraine (PO) 8 4 2 2 11 8 3 14
4 North Macedonia 8 2 2 4 10 20 -10 8
5 Malta 8 0 0 8 2 20 −18 0

Qualifying Group D

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Turkey (Q) 8 5 2 1 14 7 7 17
2 Croatia (Q) 8 5 1 2 13 4 9 16
3 Wales (PO) 8 3 3 2 10 10 0 12
4 Armenia 8 2 2 4 9 11 -2 8
5 Latvia 8 1 0 7 5 19 −14 3

Qualifying Group E

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Albania (Q) 8 4 3 1 12 4 8 15
2 Czech Republic (Q) 8 4 3 1 12 6 6 15
3 Poland (PO) 8 3 2 3 10 10 0 11
4 Moldova 8 2 4 2 7 10 -3 10
5 Faroe Islands 8 0 2 6 2 13 −11 2

Qualifying Group F

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Belgium (Q) 8 6 2 0 22 4 18 20
2 Austria (Q) 8 6 1 1 17 7 10 19
3 Sweden 8 3 1 4 14 12 2 10
4 Azerbaijan 8 2 1 5 7 17 −10 7
5 Estonia (PO) 8 0 1 7 2 22 −20 1

Qualifying Group G

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Hungary (Q) 8 5 3 0 16 7 9 18
2 Serbia (Q) 8 4 2 2 15 9 6 14
3 Montenegro 8 3 2 3 9 11 -2 11
4 Lithuania 8 1 3 4 8 14 −6 6
5 Bulgaria 8 0 4 4 7 14 −7 4

Qualifying Group H

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Denmark (Q) 10 7 1 2 19 10 9 22
2 Slovenia (Q) 10 7 1 2 20 9 11 22
3 Finland (PO) 10 6 0 4 18 10 8 18
4 Kazakhstan (PO) 10 6 0 4 16 12 4 18
5 Northern Ireland 10 3 0 7 9 13 -4 9
6 San Marino 10 0 0 10 3 31 −28 0

Qualifying Group I

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Romania (Q) 10 6 4 0 16 5 11 22
2 Switzerland (Q) 10 4 5 1 22 11 11 17
3 Israel (PO) 10 4 3 3 11 11 0 15
4 Belarus 10 3 3 4 9 14 −5 12
5 Kosovo 10 2 5 3 10 10 0 11
6 Andorra 10 0 2 8 3 20 −17 2

Qualifying Group J

Pos. Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Pts
1 Portugal (Q) 10 10 0 0 36 2 34 30
2 Slovakia (Q) 10 7 1 2 17 8 9 22
3 Luxembourg (PO) 10 5 2 3 13 19 −6 17
4 Iceland (PO) 10 3 1 6 17 16 1 10
5 Bosnia and Herzegovina (PO) 10 3 0 7 9 20 −11 9
6 Liechtenstein 10 0 0 10 1 28 −27 0
(Q) = qualified for finals, (PO) = qualified for play-offs via the Nations League


Wembley Stadium Interior

By Mick Baker, flickr

  • Qualification (Group Stages) – Thursday 23rd March 2023 to Tuesday 21st November 2023
  • Qualification (Play-Offs) – Thursday 21st March to Tuesday 26th March 2024
  • Group Stages – Friday 14th June to Wednesday 26th June 2024
  • Round of 16 – Saturday 29th June to Tuesday 2nd July 2024
  • Quarter-Finals – Friday 5th & Saturday 6th July 2024
  • Semi-Finals – Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th July 2024
  • Final – Sunday 14th July 2024, kick-off TBC

This schedule is subject to alteration

About The European Championship

European Championship Trophy and Map

Like, the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA European Championship is hosted by a different country each year. A bidding process, not too dissimilar to that of World Cup or the Olympics, takes place before a panel of representatives from within UEFA then decides which country will be allocated the hosting rights for the competition.

As the tournament is held every four years, it obviously moves from country to country within this time frame. However, for the 2020 version of the competition the organisers have decided that for the first time ever it will take place across several countries, making it much more of a continental tournament rather than restricted to one place.

The majority of European leagues run from August through to May, and as a result the Euros tend to take place at the back of May, running through to early July.

The Creation of the Euros

Paris, Champ de Mars in 1960

Champ de Mars, Paris, in 1960 by Roger W, flickr

It was Henri Delaunay of the French Football Federation who first made the suggestion for a pan-European football tournament. That was back in 1927, but the one-time Secretary General of the FFF wouldn’t live to see his idea become a reality. It wasn’t until 1958 that an idea similar to the one proposed by Delaunay began to take shape, with the Frenchman having died in 1955. Seventeen teams applied to take part in the knockout competition that at the time was given the name of the UEFA European Nations’ Cup, with each team playing at home and away from home in order to try and qualify for the final tournament.

It was the hosts France, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union that made it through to the semi-final stage, with the Soviets only making it there because the far-right dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco, refused to allow his players to travel to the Soviet Union after the Soviets had offered support to the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. It was the Soviets who went on to win the competition, thanks to the goalkeeping exploits of Lev Yashin and an extra-time goal from Viktor Ponedelnik to take the game away from Yugoslavia. Whilst the Soviets earned their win, it’s notable that the likes of England, West Germany and Italy didn’t even enter the tournament.

1960 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
France 4 Soviet Union Yugoslavia Parc de Princes, Paris

The Competition’s Development

Estadio Santiago Bernabeau in Madrid

Estadio Santiago Bernabeau, Madrid, by Reinhard Link, flickr

Four years after its inaugural outing, the tournament moved to Spain and there was a huge increase in the number of teams applying to take part in it. There were still only four that played in the final stage, but twenty-nine nations entered in the first place. West Germany still didn’t participate, whilst Greece ended up withdrawing from the competition after being drawn to play against Albania, who they were at war with. Spain finally got their chance to find out how they might have got on if they’d played against the Soviet Union four years earlier, beating them 2-1 in the final at the Santiago Bernabéu.

1964 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Spain 4 Spain Soviet Union Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

Four years after that and the format remained largely unchanged, but the competition did feature something that hasn’t been used to decide the outcome of a match before or since. When Italy, who were the tournament’s hosts, and the Soviet Union couldn’t be separated during the semi-final stage, a coin toss was used to decide who would feature in the final. The last game of the Championship had to be replayed when Italy and Yugoslavia drew 1-1. Italy won the replay 2-0 to become the champions of Europe for the first time. It’s also noteworthy that thirty-one teams entered the competition in the first place, showing that it was becoming more and more popular throughout the continent.

1968 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Italy 4 Italy Yugoslavia Stadio Olimpico, Rome

The Emergence Of The Germans

German Football Fans

In 1972 the tournament was hosted by Belgium. Once again just four teams played in the final stages, with Belgium being joined by Hungary, the USSR and West Germany. Both extra-time and penalties were available for the referees to use in order to decide upon a match winner, though they were never needed as it happens. The German’s beat the hosts in one semi-final, whilst the Soviet Union scraped past Hungary courtesy of a 1-0 win. If anyone had been expecting a close encounter in the final then they were disappointed, with West Germany’s lack of experience not showing as they won 3-0.

1972 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Belgium 4 West Germany Soviet Union Heysel Stadium, Brussels

If any football fans ever wonder about Germany’s experience on the international stage then the 1972 Euros might well be the country’s defining moment. They went on to with the World Cup two years later and the squad that did so had cut its teeth in the European Championship first. The West Germans also did well in the 1976 version of the competition, losing to Czechoslovakia in a penalty shootout in the final. It’s unusual to write about German’s losing a penalty shootout, which might help to explain why the man who scored the winning penalty had the type of goal he scored named after him. Antonín Panenka chipped the ball and the resulting goal was referred to by UEFA as ‘perhaps the most famous spot-kick of all time’.

1976 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Yugoslavia 4 Czechoslovakia West Germany Red Star Stadium, Belgrade

The Competition’s Expansion

1988 European Championships Official Match Ball

By Liondartois, Wikimedia Commons

The 1976 European Championship is remembered for two main reasons: it was the final one to feature just four teams in the competition proper and it was also the last one that required the host nation to go through qualifying. Italy were the hosts for the second time in 1980 and it was decided that the final stage would be expanded to include eight teams. The format required the use of a group stage for the first time in Euros history, with the eight participating teams split into two sets of four. They played a round-robin set of games against each other and the winners of the two groups advanced to the final. The runners-up, meanwhile, played in the third-place / fourth-place play-off match.

The final of the 1980 competition was held in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and West Germany went up against Belgium. The winning goal was netted by Horst Hrubesch with just minutes of the match remaining, after the Belgians had equalised in the second-half.

1980 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Italy 8 West Germany Belgium Stadio Olimpico, Rome

The eight team format remained in place in 1984 when France hosted and won the competition on home soil. Michel Platini, who would later go on to be the President of UEFA before leaving in disgrace, scored nine goals in five games for the hosts, one of which was the opener in the final against Spain. Though eight teams were involved, the actually way the tournament worked was slightly different, with the top two sides from the groups progressing to a knockout semi-final stage and no third-place play-off being played.

1984 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
France 8 France Spain Parc de Princes, Paris

Just two more tournaments involving eight teams were played, with the first one being hosted by West Germany in 1988. The hosts were knocked out in the semi-finals by their rivals the Netherlands, with the Dutch then going on to win the competition after they beat the USSR 2-0 in the final, hosted at the Olympia Stadion in Munich.

1988 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
West Germany 8 Netherlands Soviet Union Olympiastadion, Munich

Four years later and the competition kept its format of having two groups of four with the top two teams moving into the semi-finals, but the major headline from the tournament was that UEFA refused to allow the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to take part because some of the states that made it up were at war with each other. A new name was added to the list of winners, however, when Denmark beat the now unified Germany 2-0 in the final.

1992 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Sweden 8 Denmark Germany Ullevi, Gothenburg

The Move To Sixteen Teams

Euro 96 Postcard

By Sludge G, flickr

Though we retrospectively refer to any version of the European Championship as a ‘Euros’, it was actually the 1996 iteration of the competition that used the nomenclature for the first time. It was also when the number of teams involved in the finals proper expanded from eight to sixteen. Though the format changed, the result didn’t – Euro ’96 was won by the unified Germany when they defeated the hosts England in the semi-finals and the newly created Czech Republic in the final. The win came thanks to a Golden Goal from Oliver Bierhoff, the first major tournament settled by the short-lived alternative to extra-time and penalties.

1996 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
England 16 Germany Czech Republic Wembley Stadium, London

Four years later and UEFA continued to experiment with what they were doing with the competition, allowing it to be co-hosted by two nations for the first time. The Netherlands and Belgium shared the honours, whilst the defending World Cup winners France managed to come from 1-0 down to beat Italy in extra-time in the final. It took a last-minute winner from Sylvain Wiltord to even get them into extra-time, before David Trezeguet popped up with the winner.

2000 UEFA European Championships

Hosts Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Belgium/Netherlands 16 France Italy De Kuip, Rotterdam

If France had been entirely expected to win the tournament in 2000 then no one expected Greece to win it in 2004. After all, they’d only qualified for one World Cup and one European Championship before beating hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final.

2004 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Portugal 16 Greece Portugal Estadio da Luz, Lisbon

Co-Hosting Continued

Handshake In Front of Switzerland and Austria Flags

The success of Euro 2000 meant that UEFA chose to continue the idea of allowing two countries to host the tournament in both 2008 and 2012. The first one of the two was given to Austria and Switzerland, taking place in June 2008 and culminating in a final between Spain and Germany in Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadion. Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the game and handed the Spanish their first major tournament victory since they won the same competition in 1964. Unlike Greece four years earlier, no one questioned whether or not Spain were deserving winners. As well as scoring more goals than any other team, Xavi was named the Player of the Tournament and the Team of the Tournament featured nine Spanish players.

2008 UEFA European Championships

Hosts Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Austria/Switzerland 16 Spain Germany Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna

In 2012 the European Championship was again co-hosted, this time by Poland and Ukraine. It was a tournament of numerous firsts, not least of which was the fact that Spain became the first nation to defend the title when they beat Italy 4-0 in the final. Fernando Torres also made the record books by scoring Spain’s third goal and becoming the first player to find the net in two different Euros finals. Spain were also the first team to win three back-to-back major tournaments, having been victorious in the World Cup in 2010. It was also a noteworthy year because a goal in the England v Ukraine game wasn’t given even though it crossed the line, leading to the FIFA President Sepp Blatter reversing his own anti-goal-line technology stance.

2012 UEFA European Championships

Hosts Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Poland/Ukraine 16 Spain Italy Olympic Stadium, Kiev

The Move To Twenty-Four Teams

Euro 2016 Official Matchball Against French Flag

The Football Association of Ireland and the Scottish Football Association worked together in 2007 to propose to UEFA the idea that the European Championship should be expanded to allow twenty-four teams to take part in it rather than sixteen. Though England and Germany opposed the idea, the UEFA Executive Committee and its fifty-three members confirmed in 2008 that it would indeed be expanded, but not until 2016. In 2010 it was announced that France would host the tournament for the third time, which was fitting given that the French had hosted the first ever version of it and so would be hosting when it became the largest version of itself.

The France side was also tipped to do well in the tournament proper, with a talented side being roared on by the home crowd. Indeed, they reached the competition’s final and faced a Portugal team that had only made it out of the groups by finishing as one of the best third-placed teams. The game went to extra-time and, even though the country’s most famous player Cristiano Ronaldo limped off after twenty-five minutes, Portugal won 1-0 and lifted a major trophy for the first time in the country’s history.

2016 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
France 24 Portugal France Stade de France, Paris

Several countries applied to host the competition in 2020, but UEFA decided to spread the tournament across the continent instead. England reached the final at their home stadium of Wembley having won their group which contained Scotland, Croatia and the Czech Republic, defeating Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in the knockout rounds. They met Italy in the final who had beaten Wales, Turkey and Switzerland in their group stage, overcoming Austria, Belgium and Spain in the knockout stages.

England got off to the perfect start on home soil, with Luke Shaw putting the Three Lions ahead after just two minutes. The Gli Azzurri had to wait until the 67th minute to equalise when veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci bundled the ball across the line from short range. The score stayed at 1-1 through 90 minutes and extra time with the Italians holding their nerve to win the penalty shootout 3-2 and secure their second European Championship.

2020 UEFA European Championships

Host Participants Winner Runner-up Final Venue
Various 24 Italy England Wembley Stadium, London

Tournament Format

Europe on Globe

The qualifying period for the tournament is made up of nine groups, selected by a seeding process based on World Rankings. The winners and the runners-up from each group will automatically qualify, as does the host nation. The best placed third place team from all of the groups also gets a spot before the remaining 8 teams go into a knockout stage to determine the final four qualifying countries.

For the tournament proper the twenty-four competing teams are separated into six groups, with four teams in each group. The teams play each side in their group once before the six group winners and six runners-up move forward into the last sixteen phase, joined by the four best third-placed teams according to points and goals scored. It then becomes a knockout tournament, with extra-time and penalties being used if necessary in order to see which teams will advance to the final.

Interesting facts

European Championship Trophy Spanish Background and Ribbons

By Álvaro Millán, flickr

Given that the European Championship was first played in 1960, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that there are a number of interesting facts that you might want to know about. Here’s a look at the best of them:

  • Spain and Germany are the two most successful teams throughout Euros history, winning the tournament three times apiece
  • Germany have also had the most runner-up finishes with three, tying that of the then Soviet Union
  • No team has played in more finals than Germany who have enjoyed six appearances since the tournament began
  • Interestingly, England have finished in the top-eight eight times, only ever progressing past the semi-finals once, at Euro 2020
  • Thirteen players have won the tournament twice, with none doing so a third time. Rainer Bonhof managed it with West Germany and has the most individual medals in the tournament with three (two winners and one runners-up)
  • The youngest player to have played in the Euros was Jetro Willems from the Netherlands, making his debut against Denmark in 2012
  • The oldest is Lothar Matthaus from Germany, who played until he was thirty-nine-years-old
  • Michel Platini holds the record for the most goals in one tournament with nine, whilst Robbie Keane has the most goals throughout the qualifying phase with a staggering twenty-three
  • Combined, Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for goals in both qualifying and the finals after finding the net 45 times to date
  • Eight players have scored hat-tricks in the Euros and the current record number of goals in the final itself stand at two, scored by Fernando Torres
  • Two players, Alan Shearer and Zlatin Ibrahimovic, have scored six consecutive goals in Euro finals matches
  • The highest attendance ever recorded stands at 79,115 when the Soviet Union played Spain in 1964 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain