UEFA has confirmed the final competition rules and regulations for the UEFA Nations League, less than a year before the first match is due to be played on 6 September 2018. The new logo for the tournament was also unveiled following Wednesday’s UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Nyon.
2018/19 UEFA Nations League: how it works
The UEFA Nations League is a new competition that aims to ensure the continued success of national team football by replacing most friendlies with competitive matches and by allowing all nations to play against equally ranked teams.
- All 55 UEFA associations enter.
- The teams are split into four leagues, A–B–C–D, according to their position in the UEFA National Team Coefficient Rankings following the end of the European Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup (as per 11 October 2017; play-off results will not be included).
- League A will consist of the 12 top-ranked teams. The next 12 teams will be in League B, the next 15 in League C and the remaining 16 in League D.
- Leagues A and B will each comprise four groups of three teams.
- League C will contain one group of three teams and three groups of four sides; League D will be formed by four groups of four teams.
- All draw procedures to be confirmed. Matches to be played home and away between September and November 2018 (teams will play four or six games depending on the size of their group).
- The four group winners of League A will qualify for the UEFA Nations League Finals, to be held in June 2019, with two semi-finals, a third-place match and the final. One host country will be appointed by the UEFA Executive Committee in December 2018 from among the finalist teams.
- The group winners in Leagues B, C and D will gain promotion and those who finish bottom of the groups in Leagues A, B and C will be relegated.
National teams will thus either be competing to become UEFA Nations League winners, or be fighting for promotion and to avoid relegation.
The League Phase Draw for the UEFA Nations League will take place at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne on 24 January 2018, when the new UEFA Nations League trophy will also be unveiled.
Qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020
Qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020 remains largely the same (with 24 finalists in all), although the European Qualifiers will now begin in the March after a major tournament instead of immediately in September (i.e. March 2019 in this case). No team will gain auomatic qualification as hosts (there are 13 host nations in all).
Qualifying group stage (20 teams qualify)
The teams will be split into ten groups of five or six, and the top two from each group will qualify for the final tournament, determining the first 20 places.
Play-offs (4 teams qualify)
The last four EURO places will be won through the European Qualifiers play-offs, which will be contested by the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners (i.e. the four group winners in each of the four divisions).
Each league will have a path of its own and each path will feature two single-leg semi-finals and one single-leg final. The winner of each path will win a ticket to UEFA EURO 2020.
If a UEFA Nations League group winner has already qualified via the European Qualifiers, then their spot will go to the next best-ranked team in their league. If a league does not have four teams to compete, the remaining slots are allocated to teams from another league, according to the overall UEFA Nations League rankings.