Nations League offers olive branch to non-UEFA nations for a global competition

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By Andrew Warshaw

November 7 – Gianni Infantino’s recent observation that FIFA will be examining all its competitions to see how they best fit into the international calendar has taken an interesting twist with the disclosure that the new Nations League tournament could be expanded beyond Europe and be turned into an ambitious global event.

Agency reports say the new competition, which hasn’t even started yet, could become a fully-fledged tournament taking place every two years in “odd” years and involving all FIFA members.

The idea would be to replace friendlies once and for all, with teams tiered in seven divisions according to their FIFA ranking. Each of FIFA’s six confederations would run its own qualifying campaign, with promotion and relegation and a mini-tournament for the winners.

What the incentive might be in terms of qualifying for the World Cup is unclear at this early stage. Likewise the burden on players competing in yet another meaningful tournament. But such a concept would solve the problem of non-European countries trying to play friendlies against European opposition, one immediate consequence of UEFA’s Nations League which gets under in September.

“FIFA has been always involved from the beginning in the process. Thanks to the cooperative atmosphere FIFA will continue to have constructive discussions about the next steps together with UEFA and the other confederations,” FIFA said in a statement.

And UEFA confirmed that it “has initiated discussions regarding the evolution of the UEFA Nations League. These constructive discussions involve our national associations, European football stakeholders, all confederations and of course FIFA, with whom we have a very good relationship.

“We have included them in discussions on this topic since the start. No decisions have been made at this time.”

CONCAFAF president Victor Montagliani told Reuters: “What people need to realize is that the world of friendlies is going to change, with Europe changing to the Nations League, it is going to get harder to get friendlies.”

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