26 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Nations League finalists drawn; UEFA confirms VAR I coming for Champion League last 16

December 3 – England will play the Netherlands and hosts Portugal take on Switzerland in the semi-final of the inaugural Nations League following the draw made today.

The games take place on June 5 and 6, the first in Porto, the second in Guimaraes, with the final on 9 June.

The winner of the tournament, which has proved unexpectedly successful in its bid to replace meaningless friendlies, will receive €6 million while the fourth placed nation will earn around €2.5 million.

England reached the last four of the Nations League by topping a group containing Croatia and Spain. Switzerland pipped Belgium to top spot in their group by virtue of their superior head-to-head record while European champions Portugal progressed at the expense of Poland and Italy, and the Netherlands qualified with a 90th-minute equaliser in their final group game in Germany.

Meanwhile UEFA have announced that Video Assistant Referees will be used in this season’s Champions League from the last-16 stage onwards having been employed by major leagues in Spain, Italy and Germany, and at the World Cup in Russia.

The technology was due to be introduced next season but UEFA’s  Executive Committee today decided to change their minds and fast-track VAR after a series of high-profile refereeing mistakes.

VAR will also be used at the 2019 Europa League final, in the 2019 Nations League finals and in next year’s European Under-21 Championship finals.

“We are ready to use VAR earlier than initially planned and we are convinced that it will be beneficial for our competitions as it will provide valuable help to match officials and will allow to reduce incorrect decisions,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

The system will also be applied in the 2019/20 Champions League, from the play-off stage, and at the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. The technology will subsequently be used at the Euro 2020 finals, in the 2020/21 Europa League from the group stage onwards and in the 2021 Nations League finals.

UEFA is the last major competition organiser in world football to finally give the green light to use video replays.

“To be very straightforward with you, we discussed with our colleagues if we can do it before, why wait because it’s hard to afford any mistakes,” Ceferin told a news conference at the end of the two-day exco meeting.

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