European football’s governing body UEFA has approved the launch of a Nations League which will start in 2018. The Nations League will be played every second year and countries will have the chance to win qualifying places for the 2020 European Championship by performing well in the league.
The league will replace the majority of international friendlies after unanimous support from UEFA’s 54 member associations in Kazakhstan.
As of yet the format has not been decided but reports suggest the 54 countries will be split into four divisions according to ranking and there will be promotion and relegation.
Wolfgang Niersbach, Chairman of the National Teams Competition Committee said: “We accept and respect that all UEFA member associations have agreed to create a new competition. This is a big step for national teams in Europe and we hope that fans will support the format.”
UEFA President Michel Platini added: “The friendlies don’t really interest anybody – neither the fans nor the players nor the media and nor the national associations. This is a good decision because nobody wants these friendlies.”
The English Football Association has gone on record to support the introduction, with General Secretary Alex Horne speaking to Sky Sports News.
Horne said: “It’s a positive one. We’ve been working on this for perhaps 18 months now as a collective. I think what we have got in front of us with the Nations League is the prospect of some really exciting fixtures followed by the qualification games. For an England player, for manager Roy Hodgson, you want to be taking part in those big games.”
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino added: “Twenty teams will advance from the qualifying competition to the Euro 2020 finals – which are being played in 13 cities around Europe. That leaves four extra slots to be filled and they will come from four teams from the Nations League who have not otherwise qualified through the qualifiers.” [Source: I sport connect]