A new dimension will be added to European football's premier international competition when the next final tournament takes place in 2016.
Twenty-four teams will contest the Henri Delaunay Cup for the first time following a decision by the UEFA Executive Committee in September 2008. France were awarded UEFA EURO 2016 by the Executive Committee in a decision announced in Geneva on Friday 28 May 2010.
The EURO finals field has risen as the profile of the championship has grown since the inaugural competition took place from 1958 to 1960. From four to eight, to 16 to 24 next time around, almost half of UEFA's 53 member associations will contest the European crown in four years' time.
France played a key role in the founding of the UEFA European Championship. It was the brainchild of a Frenchman, Henri Delaunay, UEFA's first general secretary from June 1954 to November 1955. The opening final round, featuring four teams, was held in France in 1960, with Paris hosting the inaugural final between the USSR and Yugoslavia on 10 July of that year.
The 2016 tournament will be the third time that a EURO finals has been staged on French soil. After 1960, UEFA took the tournament back there in 1984. It was the hosts who emerged victorious in a wonderful final round which ended with UEFA President Michel Platini, the team's captain and talisman, brandishing the trophy in triumph at the Parc des Princes in Paris and creating a new championship scoring record with nine goals – including hat-tricks against Belgium and Yugoslavia.
Since then, France have enjoyed yet more glory in front of their own fans, when they won the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Now, the French Football Federation (FFF) will be proud hosts of the 2016 event, with Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Paris and Saint-Denis waiting to greet the football family and each team's supporters. The FFF joins UEFA, the French government and the host cities as the major stakeholders in UEFA EURO 2016.
UEFA's member associations will set out on the qualifying road for UEFA EURO 2016 in September 2014, following the qualifying competition draw the previous spring. The final-round draw will follow at the end of 2015.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.