Ceferin opens door for South Americans to join Europe’s Nations League

March 11 – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has suggested that South American teams could feature in the Nations League in the near future.

In an interview with leading Brazilian media outlet Globo, the European supremo said that it is a “viable” option to integrate South American teams in the competition UEFA introduced in 2018 to rejuvenate international matches and discard friendlies.

“You know, after the creation of the Nations League our teams don’t play so many friendlies anymore,” said Ceferin. “Big teams miss playing against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. They tell us they would like to play. That would be a very good thing, but we’re not at the point of sharing that with the public yet.”

That lack of friendlies has also irked South America’s top teams and in particular Brazil coach Tite, who has seen his team cruise through the last two World Cup qualification campaigns. Brazil’s elimination from the 2018 World Cup by Belgium rattled Tite, who has repeatedly lamented that Brazil no longer have the opportunities to organize friendlies against European opposition.

“It’s even more difficult for South Americans to play in the World Cup against European teams because it’s a different style of play,” said Ceferin. “And you are only ten in South America, we are 55, so we have more quality teams. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why European football has been dominating the World Cups since 2006.”

Ceferin’s suggestion will be music to Tite’s ears but also underlines the common interests between UEFA and CONMEBOL, who formed a block against FIFA’s proposal for a biennial World Cup.

The two confederations have signed a memorandum of understanding and in June, European champions Italy will play South American champions Argentina in a prestigious friendly at Wembley, part of what the governing bodies called “the broadening of their existing cooperation”.

An enlarged Nations League, including the South Americans, would all but end Zurich’s biennial World Cup dreams. In December, UEFA vice-president Zbigniew Boniek said in an interview with Polish media that the ten South American countries would join the Nations League in 2024.

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