NYON: European federation UEFA has confirmed the evolution of its ‘week of football’ concept for the qualifying competition for Euro 2016.
As hosts, France qualify automatically for the first 24-team tournament – to be played from June 10 to July 10 – leaving a record field of 53 nations to be drawn into groups of five and six teams when the qualifying draw takes place in Nice on February 23.

Sides will be seeded for the qualifying draw according to the UEFA national team coefficient rankings, which will be announced along with the draw procedure and final tournament match schedule after the next executive committee meeting in Nyon .

Winners of the nine group, the nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side will qualify directly for the final tournament. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers for the finals.

Paris will host the draw for the final tournament on December 12, 2015.

The qualifying schedule has been revolutionised – according to UEFA – “to ensure that fans will have the chance to watch more matches live than ever before on the road to France.”

The ‘week of football’ concept will see games played from Thursday to Tuesday. Kick-off times will be set mainly at 18.00CET and 20.45CET on Saturdays and Sundays and 20.45CET for Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays. On double-header matchweeks, teams will play on Thursday/Sunday, Friday/Monday or Saturday/Tuesday.

General secretary Gianni Infantino said: “The fact we spread the qualifiers over several days as opposed to all teams playing on the same day will ensure a better visibility for the competition. Each matchday will have eight to 10 as opposed to 20 to 30 matches on the same day.”

European Qualifiers match dates
MD1: 7/8/9 September 2014
MD2: 9/10/11 October 2014
MD3: 12/13/14 October 2014
MD4: 14/15/16 November 2014
MD5: 27/28/29 March 2015
MD6: 12/13/14 June 2015
MD7: 3/4/5 September 2015
MD8: 6/7/8 September 2015
MD9: 8/9/10 October 2015
MD10: 11/12/13 October 2015

Play-off match dates

First legs: 12/13/14 November 2015
Second legs: 15/16/17 November 2015