The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
The successor to the UEFA European Under-16 Championship, the U17 event has been running annually since 2001/02. It consists of a qualifying round, an elite round and, from 2014/15, a 16-team final tournament usually held in May.
The autumn qualifying round is made up of groups of four teams playing round-robin fixtures at one venue. The top two progress alongside – depending on the number of entries – a specified number of third-placed sides with the best record against the top pair in their section, plus the top-ranked countries given byes thus far. In the elite round, staged in the spring, the qualifiers compete in mini-tournament groups of four, with the winners and a specificed number of best runners-up joining the hosts in the finals.
In the finals the 16 teams are split into four groups, with the leading two from each going into the knockout phase. In tournaments held in odd-numbered years the championship also serves as qualification for the biennial FIFA U-17 World Cup, with the four semi-finalists joined by the two winners of play-offs involving beaten quarter-finalists.
The regulations for the UEFA European U17 Championship are initially drawn up by the UEFA Administration before being submitted to the UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee. They are then forwarded upon that committee's approval to the UEFA Executive Committee for ratification.
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