Top Stories

UEFA Nations League competition approved, set to begin following 2018 World Cup

PaulPogbaFrance1-Sweden2014Friendly (AP)


The calendar for European international teams will become drastically different in 2018 after a new format was approved by UEFA for the creation of the UEFA Nations League.

The new competition, designed to make international friendly matches more appealing to fans, will include 54 participants and four divisions, with the top Division A also including a Final Four tournament between Europe’s top teams. The Nations League will run from September through November of 2018, with the Final Four held the following June.

The new schedule virtually eliminates slots to arrange friendly international matches. As a result, teams from outside of UEFA, such as the United States Men’s National Team, will have less opportunities to play some of Europe’s top teams.

Qualification for Euro 2020 is also tied into the new Nations League format. In addition to the qualification tournament, which takes place between March and November of 2019, a 16-team playoff will determine the four final teams taking part in Euro 2020.

The format for the Nations League will see teams divided into Divisions A-D based on the national team coefficient rankings set at the conclusion of qualifiers for World Cup 2018. Those divisions will also be divided into groups of three or four teams.

Divisions A and B will have four groups of three teams each, Division C will have two groups of three teams and two groups of four, and Division D will have four groups of four.

Four teams at the top and four at the bottom in each division will be promoted and relegated, respectively, for future competitions. The overall champion will come out of Division A via a Final Four tournament played in venues and determined by UEFA. They will also hold a draw for the semifinals of that portion of the competition.

Based on where teams finish in the Nations League, 16 will be chosen and drawn in a March 2020 playoff to determine the last four teams taking part in Euro 2020. If one of the top 16 teams has already qualified for Euro 2020 via the conventional qualification process, the next-best placed team will get their spot in the playoff.


What do you think of this news? Do you like the new format? How do you see this affecting the USMNT? Do you think this can improve friendly match attendances at stadiums?

Share your thoughts below.


    • No it isn’t. It’s posturing. The whole point here is that nobody trusts FIFA anymore to handle the organization of international competition (or anything, really). UEFA is now throwing their hat in the ring, as well, and saying “We’re just gonna organize our own sh*t, FIFA be damned”.

      The battle will be played out over the next few years, and while I can’t write the script, I am certain this isn’t the end-game.

    • I’m not sure why they would hate this. Clubs will no longer have to worry about releasing a player to play a friendly half a world away. If anything I wouldn’t be surprised if Euro clubs were pushing for this.

      • This would mean probably more meaningful games which is worse for players and increase player injury. BTW, why hasn’t anyone brought up the fact that this basically negates the Euro Championship, basically.

      • I was actually thinking just this. Though I don’t think it will negate the Euros, but I think this will at some point replace the Euro qualifiers.

  1. So UEFA expansion, or sort of right 🙂
    Therefore, if MLS ever expands to 28 to 32 teams with an MLS2 or working with a D2 (which could be NASL) and promotion & relegation, MLS would possibly be the most entertaining league in the world, if run properly.
    Why do i say this, given that if UEFA ever does this with the national teams, then why not have a super league in the world and MLS could be a model of a super soccer league with 28-32 teams to the world with promotion and relegation.
    For example, have 32 teams by 2030 and hopefully a proper connection with a D2 or make an MLS2. By having 32 teams, you can play the international calendar and have A UNIQUE PRO/REL SYSTEM or typical system.
    Can i go on now 😉 (after all the negative thinking)
    Each conference would have 16 teams, east and west (total of 32 teams). Top 6 in each conference make the playoffs and 2 wildcards ( NFL type, simple as that).
    The number of teams that will get relegated in EACH conference would be 1 or 2, but i think 1 team is enough from each conference. ( relegation would take place every season or once every 2 seasons but that’s why you need to communicate with a D2 properly)
    As for the division 2, have the same conference format, west and east and playoffs, simple as that. As for promotion, like i said before, it could be 2 or 1 team PER CONFERENCE but i prefer 1.
    By having 32 teams, you can have friday night soocer or even thursday as well. The league is easier to work with and you can still have the US.Open cup, MLS CUP, Concacaf Champions and add Libertadores and a Champions Cup where D1champion vs Division 2 champion every year. Not only that but have an MLS TV channel and the main thing, MONEY.
    I can go on describing this 32 team league with a proper D2 and get like 100 negative comments but what you think……

    • When Division Two teams start drawing enough fans to support division one team expenses then we might have a possibility here. But as is, I don’t see it working. Or maybe you can do it as soon as you can pay back the owners of MLS teams the 100 Million or so they paid to be in the league then see if they want in on the new business model.

      How many fans did Seattle have when they were a minor league team?
      How many fans do you think are going to stick with Columbus, Colorado, Dallas, etc if they get relegated. Hell, how many fans would show up to a Galaxy match in the second division if that were ever to happen?

      Why shut off the pro/rel to the top two divisions? I mean, if second division teams should be able to play for first division, why can’t third play for second and so on? I don’t see a moral high-ground here.

      • Look, the opening post doesn’t make any sense but I don’t see why you have to pay the $100m to an owner if the team if relegated. People always act as though relegated teams are essentially nonentities, overlooking the fact that lots of relegated teams get promoted back!

        If a Premier League team is relegated, attendance might drop, but people still go to games. No reason the same thing wouldn’t happen here.

      • What!?!?!? You talk down and look down your nose at your local NASL team. And yet you say people will support? Would you? I doubt that you would go to see your “Harrison” Red Bulls when they get relegated.

    • You can’t have relegation if you still employ a conference style system. You need to at least have single table and balanced schedule to determine that. That’s potentially a lot of money lost for the relegated team, when they play in the stronger conference and perhaps have more points than 4 or 5 teams in the other conference.

      Other points…

      1. I have no idea how relegation every other season would even work. Total aggregate points over those years? Table position over 2 years? etc.

      2. 32 team league? that’s crazy. You can’t point to an example where that has worked in soccer anywhere in the world. Other leagues tried 24 and it got to be too big. 32 would just be nonsense.

  2. If UEFA wants to ignore the rest of the world to the greatest extent possible, I don’t think that helps them from a competitive standpoint. Presumably this makes them more money though, which is great for them. For the USMNT I don’t think it makes much difference. We can just arrange more friendlies with countries from other continents.

    • If this actually takes place in the form described (which I deeply doubt), all it does is draw a deeper divide between CONCACAF/CONMEBOL and UEFA, which of course benefits nobody. Spain or England do not want to be taking another UEFA-mandated trip to the Faroe Islands when they could be playing a sold out game at Soldier Field. I doubt they will.

      UEFA are chapped because CONCACAF/CONMEBOL have gone outside of FIFA and organized a tournament of their own, and spat tea all over their little exclusive Euro tournament. They’re ratcheting up the pressure on Sepp (like everybody else) to create solutions he no longer has to preserve the attractiveness and competiveness of the global game.

      • Don’t disagree with your general thinking, but Spain and England are unlikely to play against Faroe Islands under this format as the divisions are tiered based on the strengths of the teams.

      • You are correct, and this is well observed. There are some protections. But I think we can both agree that there would be plenty of “Why are we doing this?!?” sentiment echoing out of the FA boardrooms of top UEFA teams on the eve of many of these games, in any case.

      • I think this competition is silly but one benefit would be teams having more competitive games at an appropriate level. No one wants to see more England-Andorra games but Faeroe Islands-Andorra? Well no one wants to see that either except for the handful of people in those tiny places but you get the point. At least while the minnows are playing each other the big boys will also face off.

      • I know some degenerate gamblers who would actually love a Faroe Islands – Andorra showdown. And I’m sure there are some folks in Malaysia who are licking their chops to fix that game.

  3. interesting idea.. certainly going to help the ratings and the revenues of all European teams.

    for us outside of Europe, we will probably be losing a few friendly dates. The only times we will see them anymore will in World Cup and Euro tune-up games.

    • take that back. we won’t see them until during WCQ Qualifying and pre-WC games..

      oh well; a lot of games vs South American teams in the 2022 cycle!

  4. Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Scared yet, UEFA? Sure looks like it.

    Thoughts about this, Sepp? Hate to drop another problem at your doorstep…

  5. Not good, not good at all for countries who aren’t apart of UEFA that is…..the smaller nations such as the US, Mexico and even those in CONMEBOL will not only not get a chance to compete in those European environments that harden and really show where programs such as the ones mentioned are at, but it also diminishes prospective continuity and progress that can be made when national teams are together for more than just a few friendlies at a time during a single calendar season. Fifa continues to cater to the European countries and their hold of world football and this is just another thorn in the proverbial side of smaller nations if you ask me!

    • I dunno. I think it hurts FIFA as this is a UEFA run competition. So anything that takes power from FIFA is good even if it does localize power a little. BTW Blatter gets his power from those smaller nonUEFA countries.
      Hence why the cup has been in SA. Korea and japan etc.

      Also The US might get invited someday or we just counter by uniting the north and south American cups. And its more soccer.

      • I don’t see how the US gets invited to this tournament in anyway. I really don’t like it because it essentially takes away the friendlies which provided money to teams themselves and not UEFA (since it was not a UEFA sanctioned event). It also keeps the rich/better teams richer and better because the they will be in tiers so a Wales would never really play a Spain or France. It is a bad idea all the way around. I don’t see individual FA’s digging this. I am beginning to become less and less a fan of Platini.

Leave a Comment