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UEFA Nations League Will Launch in 2018: What Is It and How Will It Work?

uefa logo UEFA Nations League Will Launch in 2018: What Is It and How Will It Work?

UEFA’s 54 member nations unanimously approved the launch of a brand new annual soccer tournament today named the UEFA Nations League, which will launch in 2018. But what is it, and how will it work?

The UEFA Nations League will be linked to the qualifying games for the European Championships, allowing teams an extra chance to qualify for — to begin with — EURO 2020.

UEFA said in a statement, “The exact format of the UEFA Nations League has not been finalized and will be the subject of further discussions between the UEFA member associations but the concept is for the 54 teams to be divided into four large groups according to coefficient rankings.

“Teams compete to be promoted to a higher group or to become the UEFA Nations League champions and to qualify for EURO play-offs.

“Prior to UEFA EURO 2020, each group will be divided into four pools of three or four teams so each team will play four to six matches between September and November 2018.

“The final four competitions, involving the four pool group winners of group A, will start in 2019, whereas play-offs for the UEFA EURO will then take place in March 2020. National teams will thus either be competing to become UEFA Nations League champions or be fighting for promotion and to avoid relegation in their groups, as well as to qualify for the EURO play-offs.

“Qualifying for a UEFA European Championship remains largely the same although qualifying will now begin in the March following a major tournament instead of immediately in September, with four teams qualifying for each final tournament via the UEFA Nations League.”

The concept is a novel one, and should be a hit among soccer fans who have increasingly become bored by international breaks that are meaningless. FIFA has failed to do anything to raise interest in the international game recently, so full credit to UEFA for recognizing that the international break is broken, and developing a unique way to make international matches more interesting to watch.

Once more details are released, we’ll get a better idea of how the Nations League will work, but the idea has a lot of value.

There will still be dates for international friendlies, and the national teams will still play the same number of games that they used to except that the games will have more meaning and purpose than in the past, and will be more competitive.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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5 Responses to UEFA Nations League Will Launch in 2018: What Is It and How Will It Work?

  1. Smokey Bacon says:

    They should use this as pre-qualifying for the likes of San Marino and other joke nations before they get to play the big boys. Just look at England’s group for 2016. They will struggle to fill Wembley with some of those teams.

  2. Dean Stell says:

    I like the general idea, but feel like they aren’t quite executing it properly. There already is a meaningful competition for UEFA called the European Championships.

    It would be fun to do random things. Like have a Cup of English-Speaking Countries between England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, N. Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Or other things like that. Spain against all of Central and South America (sans Brazil).

    Will these count as “official” matches for cap-tying purposes?

    • CTBlues says:

      I like the random cup idea Dean. You could rotate where its held on the Isls one year, North American the next, and Down Under.

  3. francis says:

    Bring back the Home International Championship – at least it would give England a chance to win something!

  4. Jason says:

    If Europe is going to do this then Concacaf and Conmnebol need to combine and have a western hemisphere nations league too.

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