Odd year out: UEFA warms up for debut of Nations League format

August 24 – European football’s new Nations League competition will give national teams a boost when it gets under way next month since it will do away with meaningless friendlies, says UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

The new competition, which looks highly complicated on paper, is being held every two years and features all 55 of Europe’s national teams divided into four divisions – Leagues A to D – that are themselves split into four groups.

The tournament will be played between September and November and Ceferin is confident it will become an established part of the calendar, with promotion and relegation between each league.

The top division will finish with a four-team mini-tournament, to be held in June next year, to decide the Nations League champion.

“The World Cup showed that there is a huge appetite for national team football,” said Ceferin in a UEFA statement. “UEFA has always been aware of this, and of the fact that national team football needs more than biennial summer showcases.”

“Supporters realise that most friendlies fail to deliver competitive and meaningful football. The relationship between club and national team football needed rebalancing. That was the thinking behind the UEFA Nations League.”

“In every even year there are World Cup or Euro champions; now in every odd year there will be a UEFA Nations League champion.”

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