The UEFA Nations League is an international association football competition, to be contested by the senior men's national teams of the member associations of UEFA, the sport's European governing body. The first tournament is due to commence in September 2018, after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the winner will be decided in June 2019. The competition will largely replace international friendly matches currently played on the FIFA International Match Calendar.
|UEFA Nations League|
|Number of teams||55|
|2018–19 UEFA Nations League|
In October 2013, Norwegian Football Association President Yngve Hallén confirmed that talks had been held to create a third full national-team international tournament for UEFA members but warned that it was only at the design stage.
The concept of the UEFA Nations League would see all 55 of UEFA's members associations' national teams divided into a series of groups based upon a ranking formulated using their recent results, where they would be promoted and relegated to other groups according to their results within the group. The proposed tournament would take place on dates on the International match calendar that are currently allocated for international friendlies and would not affect the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship.
In March 2014, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino stated that one of the benefits of the proposal would be to help less glamorous national associations arrange games. The Football Association's chairman Greg Dyke said that the proposal is "very attractive", as England would be expected to play against top-ranking national teams. Royal Belgian Football Association's general secretary Steven Martens said that lower-ranked nations would still benefit financially from the competition, as the television contract with UEFA would be centralised.
According to the approved format (prior to Kosovo becoming UEFA member), the now 55 UEFA national teams (including Kosovo) will be divided into four divisions (called "Leagues"): 12 teams in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. In each division, four groups are formed (three or four teams in each group) and play each other both home and away.
In the top division League A, each winner of the four groups go on to play in the Nations League Finals, with two semi-finals and one final to decide which team becomes the UEFA Nations League champion.
Teams can also be promoted and relegated to a higher or lower division. Each group winner (there are four groups in each division) is automatically promoted to the next higher division for the next tournament. Each team placing last in its group is automatically relegated to the next lower division.
In addition to the Nations League Finals of League A, there will be four play-offs with a similar format. Each group winner takes a spot in the semi-finals. If the group winner is already one of 20 qualified teams, rankings will be used to give the play-off spot to another team of the league. If less than four teams in the entire League remain unqualified, play-off spots for that league are given to teams of the next-lower league. This determines the four remaining qualifying spots for the European Championship (out of 24 total).
The Nations League may also be linked with UEFA's future World Cup qualifications for the same purpose, possibly using the top two divisions.
The format was criticised for allegedly allowing weaker teams to qualify through the Nations League to compete in the European Championship finals, instead of qualifying through the standard qualification process.
Each season of the UEFA Nations League will be played from September to November of an even-numbered year (pool stage), and June of the following odd-numbered year (Nations League Finals of League A), meaning a UEFA Nations League champion will be crowned every two years.
|Season||Host||Final||Third place play-off|
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||Third place||Score||Fourth place|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||B|
|Republic of Ireland||B|