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Nations League Index

The History of Nations League




In October 2013, UEFA was considering a radical overhaul of international football that would see national teams playing a new Nations League competition. The idea, floated at executive committee meetings that preceded the Uefa meeting in Dubrovnik September 2013, would see UEFA using existing dates for friendlies in the international calendar to launch a new league involving all 54 member nations.

UEFA said that the idea was one of several floated at the meeting as part of a discussion about how to improve the attractiveness of international football from 2018 onwards. The UEFA executive committee examined the idea in more detail before deciding whether to adopt it. The new concept, first revealed by Norwegian paper Dagbladet, would see all Uefa's members divided into a series of perhaps nine divisions based on their recent results, with promotion and relegation following each round of matches.

The winner of the first division would be UEFA's Nations League champion and win a substantial prize, with the bottom team in each division being relegated in favour of the winner of the tier below.

The Norwegian FA president, Yngve Hallen, who sits on UEFA's national committee for international tournaments, said: "It is true that a series of games is one of the models being discussed." The discussions were taking place against a backdrop of concern that the qualifying campaigns for the expanded European Championships from 2016 will prove less attractive because there will be less jeopardy.

In conjunction with other UEFA innovations due to be introduced from 2014 onwards, including its "week of football" in which qualifiers will take place across six days to maximise viewers, the drive from its HQ in Nyon is to boost the profile of the international game. UEFA has recently taken central control of TV rights for the competitive qualifying matches of all its member nations, promising large underwritten guarantees to the biggest countries. That has increased the pressure on UEFA to bring in funding from TV and commercial partners in order to meet them.

"The success of the Champions League has already inspired the Europa League. This is also something they are trying to look at in connection with the Nations League - how this can sharpen the market. That's what this is largely about. But there have been very clear political guidelines from all 54 federations that the focus needs to be on the football/competitive aspect. All countries should have equal opportunities. No-one should have to qualify for this tournament - everyone plays from the first game. And then there is also a recognition that tournament form should be easy to understand for most people. All this we need to work out." said Hallen.

The UEFA Nations League was unanimously adopted by the 54 UEFA member associations at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana on 27 March 2014.