January 26 – UEFA have decided that men’s teams will no longer play in six-team qualifying groups after Euro 2024 in order to bring about “less predictable and more dynamic” play.
The new format of 12 groups of four or five teams will start for the 2026 World Cup.
“The predictability of the European Qualifiers has also been addressed and tackled, with a fresh new format that will offer all the teams an equal chance to qualify for major tournaments,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, following a meeting or the organsation’s executive committee.
“The new format promises to bring more excitement to Europe’s national team football competitions that continue to grow from strength to strength.”
UEFA is also revamping the Nations League with a new knockout round starting in 2025
The knockout round will be played in March and create continuity between the group phase ending in November and the Finals in June.
League A group winners and runners-up will participate in home-and-away format quarter-finals, with the winners qualifying for the final four.
The third-ranked team in League A and the runners-up in League B, as well as the third-ranked League B side and the League C runners-up will play a home-and-away promotion and relegation playoff.
“By introducing the new knockout phase, teams will be given even more opportunities to progress while keeping the same number of games within the international match calendar,” said Ceferin.
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