The Unruly UEFA Nations League

The now ousted UEFA president Michel Platini brought many ideas to the table, as a former star player his contribution on the pitch was significant and so it has been off the pitch as an administrator. Under his reign the European Championship was spread around to venues around Europe for the 2020 edition, also in an effort to give more importance to so called national team friendly dates he presented the idea of the Nations League, so friendly matches are actually a contest for a new title. Unfortunately as with his other ideas this is a complicated one that has fans scrambling to understand formats and figure out implications for their team and the European Championship tournament.

Back in 2014 the Nations League idea was presented and divided the (now) 55 UEFA members into four leagues. A for the best to D for the worst ranked teams.

Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands are in league A.

Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey in B.

Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania in C.

Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar in D.

Teams in league A will be split into four groups of three playing in a home and away format, with the draw on January 24th 2018, the four group winners will then play for the UEFA Nations League title in 2019.

Teams in league B will be in four groups of three as well. The four group winners get promoted to League A and the four sides that finish last relegated to League C.

Teams in league C will be in one group of three and three groups of four. The four group winners get promoted to League B and the four sides that finish last relegated to League D.

Teams in league D will be in four groups of four. The four group winners get promoted to League C.

One team form each group will be able – through a special playoffs in March 2020 – to qualify for the European Championships in that same year. This provides an extra incentive for both strong and weak teams to take these formerly friendly dates more seriously by giving them a route Euros via the Nations League, in addition to the normal Euros qualification process.

Platini’s legacy is still felt even after becoming a victim in the FIFA scandal.

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