Now for something completely different ... UEFA Nations League

On Wednesday, the draw was held for its new UEFA Nations League that will begin September.

By taking the lead with the new national team competition, UEFA will shake up the international calendar as we know it. In Europe, UEFA will introduce:

-- A tiered structure to national team play: Teams are ranked 1-55 and divided into one of four leagues based on their rankings. They will play 4-6 group games over the six FIFA fixture dates in the fall of 2018, and the group winners will advance to league final fours in June 2019.

Europe's best teams will like it because they get to play strong competition (and presumably draw bigger crowds). Europe's smaller teams like it because of the potential rewards related to Euro 2020 qualifying (below).

They all like it because the format will eliminate most friendlies. UEFA likes that, too, because it reduces the number of friendly games whose TV rights it doesn't control.

-- Promotion and relegation into a national team play: Teams will be promoted and relegated between leagues for future competitions based on their finishes.

Four will go up and down between League 1 and League 2 and League 2 and League 3 and five will go up and down between League 3 and League 4.

-- A wild-card playoff system for the European Championship: The top two teams from each of 10 groups will advance to Euro 2020 from qualifying held entirely in 2019, but 16 teams that don't qualify will play off for four spots in March 2026.

The twist: Those 16 teams will be determined by their finishes the Nations League. To begin, all group winners from the Nations League that have not already qualified for Euro 2020. After that, teams are determined based on a complicated system of selecting teams that finished below the group winners.

Four different pools of teams will play off for the four spots over two fixture dates (semifinals and final), assuring two teams from the lower ranks of the Nations League of qualifying for Euro 2020.

USMNT impact? For his entire tenure as national team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann insisted that the USA play as many friendly games against strong European competition as possible. The new Nations League will reduce the number of available opponents -- eight of Europe's top 24 teams -- on any given date during the fall fixture calendar.

As it is, the USA will be restricted in its scheduling in 2018-19 before the Gold Cup -- for which it has always qualified automatically as host -- because of the introduction of Concacaf's own competition, the Concacaf League of Nations.

The Concacaf competition will mirror the UEFA system with tiered play, promotion and relegation and results used to determine Gold Cup qualifiers and rankings for subsequent World Cup seeding.

UEFA has proposed a Global Nations League with tiered competitions for qualifiers from different confederation editions. A potential launch date: June 2021 when the Confederations Cup is traditionally held. Because of the extreme in Qatar at that time of year, the World Cup 2022 host will not host the Confederations Cup, a traditional dress rehearsal for the following year's World Cup.
1 comment about "Now for something completely different ... UEFA Nations League".
  1. Kenneth Barr, January 25, 2018 at 7:25 a.m.

    Oh good grief.  Just another craven attempt to squeeze more money out of the tree.  Here's a thought.  Suppose the played matches and nobody watched!?

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