Source – Instagram
The rejuvenation of national team football and the UEFA Nations League – stems from the desire of UEFA and its 55 member associations to improve the quality and standing of national team football. UEFA and its associations wanted more sporting meaning in national-team football, with associations, coaches, players and supporters increasingly of the opinion that friendly matches do not provide adequate competition for national teams.
Extensive consultation and discussions started as far back as the 2011 UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus and continued as a series of Top Executive Programme (TEP) meetings over the following three years. The UEFA Nations League was unanimously adopted at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana on 27 March 2014.
There are 55 member states in UEFA, following Kosovo’s membership being accepted in 2016.
The UEFA Nations League splits these nations into four groups: A, B, C and D. For the original format, these divisions contained countries based on their coefficient score – so the best teams in Group A, right down to the lowest-ranked in Group D.
Within each league, there are four smaller groups of three or four teams; so League A has smaller groups, A1, A2, A3 and A4, for example.
Games that took place amid the coronavirus crisis?
UEFA was the only confederation to play International football in September 2020, many questioned why the Nations League is still going ahead in these times.
Quite simply, it’s down to finances. The Nations League is a crucial source of income to the vast majority of the national associations, even playing games behind closed doors, and the loss of this funding could have had a catastrophic effect.
Guaranteed solidarity funding for each country by League is as follows:
League A: €2.25m
League B: € 1.5m
League C: €1.125m
League D: €750,000
This income has already been budgeted for, and for smaller nations, it represents a significant proportion of their cash flow.
Source – Instagram
The UEFA Nations League will have maximum participation and have the top teams playing against each other.
There’s also the concept of promotion and relegation as well as the Nations League Finals, so there is some incentive to all of this. The countries in League B will certainly be looking to jump into League A so that they can show everyone they are worthy of competing at the top.
Also, more competitive matches mean more chances for an injury. Despite club managers potentially being happy about less travel for their players, having an added edge to the international fixtures could mean that top players are more prone to being injured.
Additionally, the UEFA Nations League was created with the idea that it would give the lower-tier nations a shot at qualifying for EURO 2020. The best teams from League C will take on teams in League B who still need to qualify. But if we see it from a footballing perspective most League C teams barely pose a threat to the nations above them.
It’s now a waiting game to see how it turns out, but hopefully, it makes International Football a little more competitive than usual.