Carra fears Euros to be ruined
Format change is Platini chasing corporate cash, says Anfield man
Last Updated: June 15, 2012 12:10pm
Jamie Carragher: Enjoying Euro 2012 but fears for the tournament's future
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher feels we could be watching the last great European Championship due to UEFA's expansion plans.
Euro 2016 will see 24 teams compete in France in the biggest Euros yet but Carragher believes quality is being sacrificed for financial reasons.
That is something that disappoints the former England international because he believes the tournament currently boasts the highest standards of any in football.
"It has been an excellent start, but I fear we are enjoying the last great European Championship."
Jamie Carragher Quotes of the week
Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column: "It has been an excellent start, but I fear we are enjoying the last great European Championship.
"UEFA president Michel Platini's decision to chase more corporate cash and extend the tournament to 24 teams for the next competition will ruin it.
"At the moment, I would place the Euros above the World Cup and Champions League in terms of excitement and quality from the first kick until the last.
"By the time of the opening ceremony in Paris in four years' time, the European Championship will be relegated to third best in that group."
The 2014 World Cup will include 32 teams including the winner of a play-off between the team that tops the Oceania group and the nation that finishes fourth in CONCACAF qualifying.
The UEFA Champions League have also tried to encourage more teams from the perceived 'lesser' leagues to reach the group stages by making sides from Europe's most successful leagues qualify against each other, such as when Arsenal faced Udinese last season.
But Carragher doesn't want to see the quality diluted.
The 34-year-old added: "The danger is it will now go the same way as the Champions League. Boring until the knockout stage.
"The World Cup is the same. It's more of a celebration of football than a glorious exhibition. I've never played in a European championships and I regret it. I was in the 2004 squad but didn't feature.
"My World Cup appearance record includes the US, Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador. No disrespect, but I'd have much preferred heading into an international tournament knowing my first game was against France.
"There is a different mental preparation when you know you have to be on your game from the first match.
"There are no Mickey Mouse games in this tournament and you can't say that about the World Cup. When I was playing for England, I never felt that playing in a qualifier and even in the first round of the World Cup gave you the same buzz.
"Yes, the World Cup is special as an event, but the standard of matches was well below a Premier League match or those games I first played in the Champions League, for example.
"You'd be coming up against players who couldn't get into their club teams, or in some cases a division below you.
"There are no Mickey Mouse games in this tournament and you can't say that about the World Cup."
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"I never walked off after any of those matches thinking I'd just played at the very highest level of football, even if the England performances were not especially good.
"There was no excitement or sense of accomplishment, even if we'd won. That's why the Euros are a different level.
"Every team in this competition have pedigree, and as the early performances of Denmark, Croatia and Russia proved, even those you may not expect to win the competition have shown they have the capacity to reach the later stages.
"The format of this competition helps the players, too.
"There's no doubt it can get tedious off the pitch as well as on it when you're waiting for the next match, but having less time between games helps maintain the flow of the competition.
"It is a shame that won't be the case again in four years as the European Championship suffers because of its efforts to be just as big as, when it is already better than, the World Cup."