No one loves a third-place playoff. It may be nicer for a team to take home a bronze medal than nothing at all, but that’s little consolation for losing a semi-final match. Teams often rest stars and play with lesser effort in these matches, as the stakes are much lower than in the final, lower even than in the semifinal they lost. Still, soccer fans appreciate that they get an extra day to watch the beautiful game.
Euro 2016 viewers waiting for a Wales-Germany match the day before the final have waited in vain. The UEFA European Championship, in fact, has no match for third place.
While the Euros regularly held this match starting from the first tournament in 1960, UEFA abolished the fixture after its 1980 edition. In that tournament, Czechoslovakia beat Italy for the bronze in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. That match’s poor stadium attendance and TV viewership led the Union of European Football Associations to abandon the traditional consolation game for Euro 1984, as well as each tournament since, according to FOX Sports.
After dwindling attendances and television viewership for the fixture at the 1980 competition in Italy, UEFA decided to abolish the fixture.
In 1980, the tournament expanded to eight teams as opposed to four, with two groups of four teams. The winners of each group went straight to the final and the runners-up fought for third place.
It saw one of the few third place matches that has been decided be a penalty shootout, with Czechoslovakia beating hosts Italy 9-8 after a 1-1 draw.
For the next tournament in 1984, UEFA implemented a new format with 15 matches and semi-finals. That format was used until Euro 1996 when the competition was expanded to include 16 teams and 31 matches.
That setup was used in four subsequent tournaments before it was expanded for Euro 2016 to 24 teams.
It would be noted that the Euros are the only tournament without a third place playoff. The World Cup, Copa America and African Cup of Nations all include the fixture usually the day before the final.
It’s usually considered a much lower-priority match to organisers and is played in a smaller stadium.
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