The size of the UEFA European Women's Championship and UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final tournaments will be increased after a decision by the UEFA Executive Committee in Venice.
For UEFA Women's EURO 2017, the finals will be expanded to 16 teams from the 12 that will compete in Sweden in 2013. Having originally been a four-team event, an eight-sided final tournament was held for the first time in 1997. Then, in 2009, 12 nations qualified. The FIFA Women's World Cup is also growing in size, from 16 to 24 teams for the 2015 edition in Canada.
Karen Espelund, chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee and member of the UEFA Executive Committee by invitation, told UEFA.com: "It's a huge boost, it's a huge step forward for women's football. We know that the difference between the so-called stronger and weaker teams is getting closer all the time. It's definitely a boost for the national associations.
"The motivation for many now should be strong, because when we had the final round with eight teams, you could predict six or seven of the teams who would always be there. Now this is definitely a motivation for the other associations – investing and seeing the possibility to get to the finals. This is an important step that UEFA has taken."
Meanwhile, having ended as a four-sided tournament every year since its launch in 2007/08, the Women's U17s will now conclude with the same eight-team event as UEFA's other male and female youth championships, beginning with the 2013/14 edition.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.