UEFA European Football Championship
Originally known as the UEFA European Nations Cup and now commonly referred to simply as "The Euros," the European Championship is the main, top-level competition for men's national football teams under the jurisdiction of UEFA. The idea was first put forward by the secretary general of the French Football Federation, Henri Delaunay in 1927 and the trophy still bears his name. The first tournament began in 1958 with 17 entrants who played in a knock out competition with home and away legs until the semi-finals. The last four then played off in the final tournament in 1960. This format continued until 1980 when the finals were extended to eight teams with a group stage. The competition is held every four years between World Cups.
The success of the expanded FIFA World Cup, the accession of new nations following political the upheavals in Eastern Europe and growing potential for broadcasting rights income led to a further expansion in 1996 (the first tournament to be designated Euro XX) to 16 finalists. From 2016, there will be 24 finalists, almost half the total membership of UEFA.
The original Henri Delaunay trophy (left) was replaced for the 2008 tournament with a larger version (right), which has the names of previous winners engraved on the back. The winning nation keeps it for four years, until the next tournament finals.