Michel Platini’s aim to revive international football has gathered momentum with the news that UEFA is planning to launch a new major tournament for European countries.
The “League of Nations” would be played in odd-numbered years on dates reserved for friendlies, starting after the 2018 World Cup. All 54 member associations have backed the proposal and an announcement is expected on Thursday.
No details have been confirmed, but reports claim there would be up to four divisions with promotion and relegation, plus a ‘final four’ competition in the summer.
This being UEFA, and bearing in mind their need to desire to please all of the members all of the time, don’t be surprised to see a four year qualifying cycle with the 54 nations battling it out for the coveted 48 places at the finals.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has provided a brief synopsis of the new competition.
He said: “What has triggered what is being called the Nations League is the international calendar and the dates for friendly matches.
“We have been looking at optimising the structure of the calendar without bringing in any more dates.
“There are teams everyone wants to play against and other teams who struggle to get the opponents they’d ideally like. For all national associations, the fact is that national team matches are key for their development.”
Teams would be seeded according to their place in the rankings, with each division divided into groups with the winners qualifying for a semi-final and final, played at neutral venues.
Winners of the lower divisions could be granted entry to the European Championship.
While matches will be played on dates reserved for friendlies, there will still be dates available for countries to play non-European opponents.