Soccer-Euro qualifiers to be spread through the week


By Brian Homewood

NYON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Euro 2016 qualifying matches will be spread over six days of so-called "international weeks" rather than concentrated into just two, European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Friday.

Previously, the week-long periods allocated to international football have featured one batch of matches on Friday and another on Tuesday, but UEFA said they would now be more evenly distributed

"Supporters will get the chance to attend and watch more national team matches than ever before," said UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino.

"Broadcasters will get more games and more appointments to view. National associations will have a consistent schedule and stable revenue.

"National team football will get greater exposure than before. This is great news for football fans and for football."

UEFA said that every day of the so-called "week of football" would feature eight to 10 matches, rather than 20 to 30 on the same evening.

The draw for the Euro 2016 qualifying tournament will be made in Nice on Feb. 23.

The 53 teams will be split into eight groups of six and one group of five. The top two sides in each group plus the best third-placed team will qualify directly for Euro 2016 in France.

The other eight third-placed teams will play each other for four more places in the 24-team tournament. Hosts France will qualify automatically.

Defending champions Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Russia and Bosnia would be the top seeds for the draw, UEFA said.

UEFA said that France would play friendlies against the teams in the group of five.

"The hosts have problems to find friendlies, so they will play against the teams in the group of five," said UEFA president Michel Platini.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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