Uefa seeks to take Nations League global

November 6, 2017 11:48 am

Uefa is leading talks to expand its Nations League tournament for national team friendly games on a global basis, while European football’s governing body has announced that six member associations are in contention to host the finals of its showpiece club competitions in the 2019-20 season.

Uefa is set to launch its new Nations League concept in September 2018, with the competition seen as a means of injecting greater context to the raft of friendly games played by national teams. The Nations League will feature promotion and relegation, with the 55 European national teams having been divided into four leagues in accordance with their rankings.

The Nations League will also provide teams with another chance to qualify for the European Championships, with four sides from the initial tournament qualifying for Euro 2020 through play-off matches which take place in March 2020.

The formation of the Nations League had created questions over the access to premium friendly games against top European nations for national teams outside of Uefa. However, the Associated Press news agency, citing officials briefed on the project, said the ‘Global Nations League’ would involve all 223 members of football’s six continental confederations and take place every two years.

The proposal would involve regional qualifying groups with promotion and relegation and intercontinental finals tournaments in seven divisions, culminating in top-tier finals that could first be played in June 2021. The AP said these would be framed like a mini-World Cup and would include three European teams, two from South America, plus one each from Africa, Asia, and the North American region. They would play quarterfinals, semifinals and a final in a week-long tournament held in a single host nation.

Uefa seeks to take Nations League global

“Uefa can confirm that it has initiated discussions regarding the evolution of the Uefa Nations League,” the governing body said in a statement. Fifa said it was “involved from the beginning in the process,” with world football’s governing body adding: “Thanks to the cooperative atmosphere Fifa will continue to have constructive discussions about the next steps together with Uefa and the other confederations.”

The AP said the project is still being analysed by Fifa and the confederations, with the respective stakeholders being invited to form a new entity to jointly manage the Global Nations League, should it come to fruition.

Uefa added: “These constructive discussions involve our national associations, European football stakeholders, all confederations and of course Fifa, with whom we have a very good relationship. No decisions have been made at this time.”

In other news, Istanbul and Lisbon are set to contest hosting rights to the 2020 Champions League final, with Portugal also in line for the Europa League finale. The Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, better known as the Stadium of Light, is seeking to return the Champions League final to Lisbon for the first time since 2014, while Istanbul’s Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı last held the game in 2005, an event which witnessed Liverpool’s famous comeback win against AC Milan.

The Arena Gdańsk in Poland will compete against Estádio do Dragão in Porto, Portugal for the Europa League final, while the Women’s Champions League final has three bidders – Vienna (Austria Arena), Liège (Stade Maurice Dufrasne) and Moscow (Stadion Dinamo). The final bid deadline has been set at March 1, with Uefa due to announce the hosts in June 2018.

Uefa has set certain rules for the bidding process. Associations hosting Euro 2020 matches are not eligible to bid for the Champions League and Europa League finals, but are eligible to bid for the Women’s Champions League final.

Each bidding association is only entitled to a maximum of one bid per final. If bidding for the Champions League final, the association can bid for this final only, or for a package which also includes the Women’s Champions League final.

In September, Uefa announced that Atletico Madrid’s new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, will host the 2019 Champions League final while Baku’s Olympic Stadium gained the consolation prize of the Europa League final. Ferencváros Stadium in Budapest, Hungary secured the 2019 Women’s Champions League final.

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