The UEFA European Championship, otherwise the UEFA European Cup, more formally the UEFA European Football Championship and informally the European Super Cup, is the premier international football competition contested by the top national teams of the 27 nations of the Union of European Football Associations. Like the United States Men’s Soccer League, it is a part of FIFA, the sport’s governing body. While soccer matches are played on a rectangular pitch, with two goals that are scored via their respective sides’ shots, the tournament format is a bit different. Unlike in the MLS and other North American Soccer League divisions, the teams playing in the European tournaments are not allowed to play within their league for two years. Instead, they have to enter the tournament through qualifying competitions run by the governing body of soccer in Europe, or the European Committee of the Competition. The qualification process also allows lesser-known teams to participate.
The UEFA European Championship is held every four years, with the schedules stretching from the four corners of Europe to the four corners of Asia. It features teams from all over the world, with the Italian national team and Germany having contested the last European Championship in 2021. Since then, there has been a break in the competition, with the French and Spanish national teams also contesting the tournament.
There is a break in the qualification procedure during the World Cup years, with the four semis and the world cup itself taking place simultaneously. The format of the European championship is quite different to that of the World Cup, with the latter playing host to the championship in every four years. Usually, the invited teams are decided through the qualified teams, with the World Cup teams always being the top seed in the tournament. This is why the format of qualifying can have such a drastic effect on the outcome of the tournament: a team that has only qualified once cannot win the said championship four times, whereas a team that has qualified four times can overcome all the odds and come out at the end of the tournament in first place.
In the case of the European championship, the invited teams are decided by a draw, with each of them receiving a point based on their performance in their previous matches. The point system is not very complicated, but consists of five aspects: the performance of the home team, the performance of the other teams going into the tournament, the performance of certain teams in the previous world cup tournaments, the performance of certain teams in the previous European championships, and the overall appearance of the team in the tournament. The points are awarded based on these criteria. For instance, if a team performed extremely well in the previous tournaments, it has a high probability to receive an extra point. If a team doesn’t perform at all, it doesn’t have an advantage. This is why the format of the European championship is so much harder than the World Cup, when you compare the point system to the one of the world cup.
In the case of the European championship, as well as for the others, the participants receive a special trophy. Usually made from metal or wood, the trophy is then carried to the given place, where the trophy is put on display for all the fans and the public to see. The trophy is usually the symbol of success, since the first tournament of this kind was held in 1960, during the world cup, and afterwards there were only the world cup and the Olympics. The trophies are also called the “memento mori”, which means “a memory that is worth keeping”.
The trophy of the European championship is not only the reward for the winners, but also for all the teams who didn’t manage to reach the final stage. The names of those people who made it to the final stage are often announced months, even years, before the tournament takes place. Fans don’t just cheer for the winners, but also for the teams that didn’t manage to get there. This makes the tournament even more popular among the audience.
The popularity of these tournaments around the world is mostly attributed to the fact that the semi-finals and the finals are played in different countries. Each country hosts at least one such competition once a year, and fans travel all over the world to be part of this. Different countries also have different ideas about how to celebrate, with some organising sports days in order to coincide with the main event, the European championship. Usually these days are organised by the national sports ministry or by one of the teams participating in the tournament.
As you can see, the involvement of fans is very high in the whole situation. In the previous tournaments there were very few sponsors, and even fewer teams competing in the tournament. It was not until the last decade that the polo as a sport became so popular in Europe, and nowadays there are many big teams that participate in the tournament, both in terms of number of players, and in terms of financial support. The popularity of this sport has made it one of the most important international sports events, and this is why the polo tournament becomes so important to fans.