The UEFA European Championship is the only major international soccer tournament with no bronze medal game.
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 TV viewership 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.
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.