UEFA extends squad lists up to 26 players

UEFA has been lobbied by coaches and players themselves to allow the immediate inclusion of three players in national team squads, meaning they can extended their teams from 23 to 26 players. Such decision was approved last Friday, meaning it is official.

National teams can now have up to 26 players on their squad lists. The first tournament to allow the expansion from 23 to 26 players will be UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany in June. This has been under consideration for some time. Coaches and a number of associations had already submitted their proposals to UEFA.

European football’s governing body was convinced. It’s not a mandate, it’s an opportunity for each national team to organise things as they see fit. However, the deadline for submitting the lists is 7 June. The lists must contain the names of up to 26 players, as requested by each coach.

UEFA’s caveat to this rule is that European football’s governing body stipulates that only 23 players can be named on the bench. So, if a team has brought 26 players to the tournament, they will have to make three cuts.

The rule undoubtedly has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows the coach to have more players at his disposal. On the other hand, it creates the difficult situation of three players not being able to dress for every match and having to watch the game from the stands.

The idea of having all 26 players on the bench was supported by several coaches of major national teams such as France, Spain and England. In the end, UEFA decided that the coaches should make the difficult decision to exclude three players. As a result, the UEFA Executive Committee will allow them to play at Euro 2024 in Germany.

This may seem like a novelty, but it’s something that has already happened at Euro 2021 and at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where teams were also allowed to call up 26 players in order to mitigate the effects of COVID.

At the World Cup in Qatar, there were already teams that didn’t call up the maximum 26 players, such as Spain, who called up only 24. There have been other decisions made by UEFA, although not as important as the cap on the number of players in a squad. Each player’s shirt number will be numbered from 1 to 26, with number 1 mandatory for one of the three eligible goalkeepers.

The team doctors and the UEFA Medical Control must also agree on the replacement of an injured player. If they consider that the player has an injury from which he will not recover during the tournament, they will give the green light for the substitution.

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