Because UEFA has decided to expand the list of players called up to 26. Not everyone was in favor


Twenty-six players available. For the second consecutive European Championship, UEFA has decided to increase the number of players that can be called up by individual technical commissioners. No longer twenty-three, but twenty-six. Or rather, according to the press release issued last May 3: “The increase does not constitute an obligation for the participating federations. The teams must submit to UEFA a list with a minimum of 23 players and a maximum of 26 by the deadline of June 7 “.

If in 2021 the decision was a consequence of the Covid-19 epidemic and was taken with the aim of limiting the impact of any positivity to SARS-CoV-2, in 2024 the underlying motivation is different. And the choice to confirm extended squads is the result of a specific request from the technical commissioners who, in the majority, asked UEFA to have more players available to face a competition that comes at the end of a long and exhausting season.

Italy’s technical commissioner Luciano Spalletti was among the promoters of this initiative and already in April he expressed himself as follows on the topic: “I think it’s fairer to be able to bring 26, as long as we then have the possibility of having 15 on the bench.” A month ago, UEFA adopted precisely this solution, supporting the majority of technical commissioners who asked for more players. At the meeting at the beginning of May, Roberto Martinez (Portugal) and Gareth Southgate (England), but also Ralf Rangnick (Austria), Dragan Stojković (Serbia) and Ronald Koeman (Holland) spoke in favor of the 26-man lists.

The decision was made by majority, not unanimously. In fact, not everyone agreed and those who showed opposition in that meeting were certainly not second-rate coaches. This is the case of Julian Nagelsmann, Germany’s technical commissioner, but also of Didier Deschamps. The France coach explained that, in his opinion, expanding the rosters from 23 to 26 brings with it the risk of having too many players in the group who are little used and therefore not very involved. Of finding ourselves, in a month in which maximum attention and concentration is needed from everyone, several players dissatisfied with the poor use.

Despite some hesitations, in the end the regulation was changed. A decision limited to this tournament but the feeling, with a calendar that will be increasingly full of commitments, is that it will be difficult to go back in the future.