The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
There are 52 teams in contention as the draw for the qualifying round of the 2008/09 UEFA European Under-17 Championship takes place in Cannes at 17.45CET this afternoon.
The teams – including holders Spain as well as previous winners Russia (2006), Turkey (2005), France (2004), Portugal (2003) and Switzerland (2002) – will be divided into 13 groups comprised of four teams each. The top two in each section, plus the two third-placed sides with the best record against the top two in their group, will progress to the Elite round, to be played in spring 2009. The winners of the seven Elite round sections will join hosts Germany in next May's final tournament.
Fair Play prize
The draw, part of the ninth UEFA Elite Youth Football Conference, will be conducted by Jim Boyce, first vice-chairman of UEFA's Youth and Amateur Football Committee, development competitions manager Claudio Negroni and Henning Sauerbier, whose Germany side finished fifth at the 2007 finals. Sauerbier will be presented with the UEFA Fair Play award in recognition of the sporting conduct of his team, coaching staff and supporters.
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