European Championships to expand, says Beckenbauer

UEFA are set to agree to expand the European Championships from 16 to 24 teams, according to Franz Beckenbauer.

The move, if confirmed by UEFA, would give Ireland a reasonable chance of qualifying for the next event.

Beckenbauer, who is vice-chairman of UEFA's development and technical assistance committee, said the expansion will be rubber-stamped on Friday morning.

The final decision will be made UEFA's executive committee meeting in Bordeaux.

"Yes for sure it's going to be 24 teams. There are some good reasons to do it and the European Championships will not lose any quality by that," Beckenbauer said.

Beckenbauer is not a UEFA executive committee member himself but is a European FIFA executive member who sits in on the meetings as a non-voting observer.

UEFA are also expected to announce that Poland and Ukraine will be kept as Euro 2012 joint hosts but will be warned they have to keep to strict deadlines for their construction projects.

The leaders of European football’s ruling body will also authorise the budget for a special investigation unit to target match-fixing and corruption in football.

Corruption of referees and players, and match-fixing related to gambling, has become an increasing concern for UEFA, who late last year handed a 96-page report to Interpol detailing suspicions that 26 matches in the Champions’ League, UEFA Cup and Intertoto Cup had been fixed.

Of these, 15 are still under investigation.

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