Euro 2016: England could face France in qualifying
England could face tournament hosts France in their Euro 2016 qualifying group under a radical rule change from UEFA.
Last Updated: 23/01/14 9:39pm
France will be the first host nation to take part in a European Championships
France will retain automatic tournament qualification, with their group-stage contests serving as friendlies where no points will be awarded.
UEFA will confirm the six seeding pots on Friday 24 January, ahead of the pool-stage draw in Nice on 23 February.
UEFA's new rule is outlined in Euro 2016 regulation article 21.02, which reads: "The teams drawn into the group of five teams will have France added to their group for the purpose of playing centralised friendlies."
England could face Belgium, Republic of Ireland, Croatia or Sweden should they be named as one of the top seeds as expected.
France was chosen in 2010 after a bidding process in which they beat Italy and Turkey for the right to host the tournament.
For the first time, the finals will be contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format that had been used since 1996.
Among the 53 teams who wil be in the qualifying draw are back-to-back defending champions Spain, and for the first time since their affiliation with UEFA, Gibraltar; the two countries are expected to be kept apart in the draw due to political sensitivities.