UEFA has decided to scrap the entire friendly matches system and replace it with European “Nations League”. The first edition of this competition will take place in September-November in 2018.
The new competition will feature promotion and relegation and will see a winning team every odd year and will replace most international friendlies thereby giving added status and appeal to national team football.Each country will play six matches in the new tournament.The four semi-finalists will also qualify automatically for the finals of Euro 2020.
The UEFA Nations League will be played from September to November 2018. The schedule of matches will be played in accordance with the Week of Football concept.
The UEFA Nations League will be composed of four divisions with each division divided into four groups of 3–4 teams. The 54 participating teams are split into four divisions, A–B–C–D, according to their strength. League A will include the top-ranked teams and League D the lowest-ranked teams.
Leagues A and B will consist of four groups of three teams. League C will comprise two groups of three teams and two groups of four teams. League D will be formed by four groups of four teams. In the first edition of the competition the participating sides will be classified according to the UEFA national team rankings (ranking as per 15 November 2017).
The draw will include the necessary conditions to guarantee the sporting fairness and viability of the competition. In each division, four group winners are promoted (or play in the Final Four) and four teams are relegated for the next competition to be played in 2020. The overall UEFA Nations League rankings will determine the composition of the draw pots for the subsequent European Qualifiers.
The four group winners of UEFA Nations League A will play in a knockout format (semi-finals and final) in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League champions. The semi-final fixtures will be decided by draw. The venue will be appointed by the UEFA Executive Committee.
UEFA Nations League format
The UEFA said in a statement: “The key driver of the UEFA Nations League is sporting integrity, as member associations, players, coaches and supporters increasingly feel that friendly internationals are not providing adequate sporting competition. This Nations League will help UEFA realise its stated goal of improving the quality and standing of national team football while maintaining the balance between club and international football. It will establish the UEFA Nations League champions every odd year while also allowing all nations to play competitively at their level.”
Picture Courtesy: Mirror, UEFA.com