In October 2013, UEFA was
considering a radical overhaul of international football that
would see national teams playing a new Nations League competition.
The idea, floated at executive committee meetings that preceded
the Uefa meeting in Dubrovnik September 2013, would see UEFA using
existing dates for friendlies in the international calendar to
launch a new league involving all 54 member nations.
UEFA said that the idea was one of
several floated at the meeting as part of a discussion about how
to improve the attractiveness of international football from 2018
onwards. The UEFA executive committee examined the idea in more
detail before deciding whether to adopt it. The new concept, first
revealed by Norwegian paper Dagbladet, would see all Uefa's
members divided into a series of perhaps nine divisions based on
their recent results, with promotion and relegation following each
round of matches.
The winner of the first division
would be UEFA's Nations League champion and win a substantial
prize, with the bottom team in each division being relegated in
favour of the winner of the tier below.
The Norwegian FA president, Yngve
Hallen, who sits on UEFA's national committee for international
tournaments, said: "It is true that a series of games is one of
the models being discussed." The discussions were taking place
against a backdrop of concern that the qualifying campaigns for
the expanded European Championships from 2016 will prove less
attractive because there will be less jeopardy.
In conjunction with other UEFA
innovations due to be introduced from 2014 onwards, including its
"week of football" in which qualifiers will take place across six
days to maximise viewers, the drive from its HQ in Nyon is to
boost the profile of the international game. UEFA has recently
taken central control of TV rights for the competitive qualifying
matches of all its member nations, promising large underwritten
guarantees to the biggest countries. That has increased the
pressure on UEFA to bring in funding from TV and commercial
partners in order to meet them.
"The success of the Champions
League has already inspired the Europa League. This is also
something they are trying to look at in connection with the
Nations League - how this can sharpen the market. That's what this
is largely about. But there have been very clear political
guidelines from all 54 federations that the focus needs to be on
the football/competitive aspect. All countries should have equal
opportunities. No-one should have to qualify for this tournament -
everyone plays from the first game. And then there is also a
recognition that tournament form should be easy to understand for
most people. All this we need to work out." said Hallen.
The UEFA Nations League was
unanimously adopted by the 54 UEFA member associations at the
XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana on 27 March 2014.