|UEFA Nations League|
|Number of teams||55|
|Most successful club||Portugal (1 title)|
The UEFA Nations League is an international association football competition to be contested by the senior men's national teams of the member associations of UEFA, the sport's European governing body. The inaugural tournament was played in September 2018, after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Portugal won the tournament after defeating the Netherlands in the final in June 2019. The competition largely replaced international friendly fixtures currently played on the FIFA International Match Calendar.
In October 2013, Norwegian Football Association President Yngve Hallén confirmed that talks had been held to create a third full national-team international tournament for UEFA members but warned that it was only at the design stage.
The concept of the UEFA Nations League would see all 55 of UEFA's members associations' national teams divided into a series of groups based upon a ranking formulated using their recent results, where they would be promoted and relegated to other groups according to their results within the group. The proposed tournament would take place on dates on the International match calendar that are currently allocated for international friendlies and would not affect the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship.
In March 2014, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino stated that one of the benefits of the proposal would be to help less glamorous national associations arrange games. The Football Association's chairman Greg Dyke said that the proposal is "very attractive", as England would be expected to play against top-ranking national teams. Royal Belgian Football Association's general secretary Steven Martens said that lower-ranked nations would still benefit financially from the competition, as the television contract with UEFA would be centralised.
The UEFA Nations League was unanimously adopted by the 54 UEFA member associations (Kosovo was not a member at this time) at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana on 27 March 2014.
According to the approved format (prior to Kosovo becoming UEFA member), the now 55 UEFA national teams (including Kosovo) were divided into four divisions (called "Leagues") in 2018: 12 teams in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. In each division, four groups are formed (three or four teams in each group) and play each other both home and away.
In the top division League A, each winner of the four groups go on to play in the Nations League Finals (branded by UEFA as the "Final Four"), with two semi-finals and one final to decide which team becomes the UEFA Nations League champion.
Teams can also be promoted and relegated to a higher or lower division. Each group winner (there are four groups in each division) is automatically promoted to the next higher division for the next tournament. Each team placing last in its group is automatically relegated to the next lower division.
- Main article: UEFA European Championship qualifying
In addition to the Nations League Finals of League A, there will be four play-offs with a similar format. Each group winner takes a spot in the semi-finals. If the group winner is already one of 20 qualified teams, rankings will be used to give the play-off spot to another team of the league. If less than four teams in the entire League remain unqualified, play-off spots for that league are given to teams of the next-lower league. This determines the four remaining qualifying spots for the European Championship (out of 24 total).
Current 2020 format
For the second edition of the competition, UEFA revised the format of the competition so that League A, League B and League C all have four groups with four teams in each. League D, meanwhile, has only two groups with three teams in Group A and four in Group B (due to UEFA having a number of teams which isn't a multiple of four).
The groups work in the same way as the last in Leagues A and B (except both leagues have four teams in each group, not three). League C group winners still gain promotion to League B, however as there are only two groups in League D, bottom-ranked League C sides will have a play-off competition to see who goes down.
As per the inaugural edition, top-ranked League A sides will have a semi-final, a third-place play-off and a final to decide who wins the tournament.
- Main article: FIFA World Cup qualification
The Nations League is also linked to qualification for the FIFA World Cup. As with the qualification for the Euros, the traditional European Qualifiers format is prioritised, however two group winners who have not qualified for the World Cup via the traditional method will progress to the qualification play-offs.
The format was criticised for allegedly allowing weaker teams to qualify through the Nations League to compete in the European Championship finals, instead of qualifying through the standard qualification process.
Each season of the UEFA Nations League will be played from September to November of an even-numbered year (pool stage), and June of the following odd-numbered year (Nations League Finals of League A), meaning a UEFA Nations League champion will be crowned every two years.
Results of Nations League Finals
|Season||Host||Final||Third place play-off|
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||Third place||Score||Fourth place|
Team performances by season
- No movement
- Q – Qualified for upcoming UEFA Nations League Finals
- – Hosts of UEFA Nations League Finals
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||B||A|
|Republic of Ireland||B||23||C|
|UEFA Nations League|
|UEFA Nations League seasons|
|UEFA Nations League finals|
|UEFA Nations League squads|
|European Championship (U-21 · U-19)|
|Champions League · Europa League · Super Cup · UEFA Women's Champions League · Cup Winners' Cup (defunct) · Intertoto Cup (defunct) · Women's Champions League|