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Why there was no third place match in Euro 2016

Germany and Wales were expected to play the third place final of the Euro 2016. Football fans who waited for the match must have been disappointed. The third place match was abolished by UEFA after its 1980 edition. 

No one loves a third-place playoff. It may be nicer for a team to take home a bronze medal than nothing at all, but that’s little consolation for losing a semi-final match. Teams often rest stars and play with lesser effort in these matches, as the stakes are much lower than in the final, lower even than in the semifinal they lost. Still, soccer fans appreciate that they get an extra day to watch the beautiful game. It makes a nice full weekend of championship play. If the team you support lost in the semifinals, at least you have the chance to watch them end the tournament with a victory. Most major international tournaments feature a bronze medal game. The recent Copa América saw Colombia defeat the United States 1-0 for that prize. The Africa Cup of Nations and the AFC Asian Cup also hold a third-place playoff, as does the World Cup.

So what happened to third place?

While the Euros regularly held this match starting from the first tournament in 1960, UEFA abolished the fixture after its 1980 edition. In that tournament, Czechoslovakia beat Italy for the bronze in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. That match’s poor stadium attendance and TVviewership led the Union of European Football Associations to abandon the traditional consolation game for Euro 1984, as well as each tournament since, according to FOX Sports.

What if?

While a third-place trophy would have hardly consoled the Germans, who entered the tournament looking to build a dynasty upon their 2014 World Cup win, it would’ve meant quite a bit to the Welsh, who were playing in their very first European Championship. With the return of Aaron Ramsey from yellow-card suspension, Wales might have extended its historic run at Euro 2016 by upsetting Germany. The Dragons sorely missed his creativity and work rate in their midfield during their semifinal loss to Portugal.


Yes, the third place playoff was a regular fixture at the Euros from the first tournament in 1960 through to 1980.

Germany’s defender Jonas Hector reacts after losing the Euro 2016 semi-final.

Germany’s defender Jonas Hector reacts after losing the Euro 2016 semi-final.Source: AFP


After dwindling attendances and television viewership for the fixture at the 1980 competition in Italy, UEFA decided to abolish the fixture.

In 1980, the tournament expanded to eight teams as opposed to four, with two groups of four teams. The winners of each group went straight to the final and the runners-up fought for third place.

It saw one of the few third place matches that has been decided be a penalty shootout, with Czechoslovakia beating hosts Italy 9-8 after a 1-1 draw.

For the next tournament in 1984, UEFA implemented a new format with 15 matches and semi-finals. That format was used until Euro 1996 when the competition was expanded to include 16 teams and 31 matches.

That setup was used in four subsequent tournaments before it was expanded for Euro 2016 to 24 teams.


The Euros are the only tournament without a third place playoff.

The World Cup, Copa America and African Cup of Nations all include the fixture – usually the day before the final.

It’s usually considered a much lower-priority match to organisers and is played in a smaller stadium.

Source: The Nation