The UEFA Executive Committee met on Wednesday at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, and approved new formats for its men’s national team competitions that will come into effect in September 2024.
Following an extensive consultation process with its national associations, it was decided to slightly modify the current formats of the UEFA Nations League and the European Qualifiers to provide more compelling and exciting competitions within existing dates, as well as to strengthen the resources of national associations and ensure a steady recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
A new meaningful knock-out UEFA Nations League round combined with a more compact format of European Qualifiers results in more compelling ties without any increase in the overall number of matches.
The new formats will be as follows:
UEFA Nations League
The UEFA Nations League will be expanded with a new knock-out round to be played in March, thereby creating continuity between the group phase ending in November and the Finals played in June.
League A group winners and runners-up will participate in home-and-away quarter-finals, with the winners of these ties qualifying for the Final Four.
The 3rd-ranked of League A and the runners-up of League B, as well as the 3rd-ranked of League B and the runners-up of League C will play a home-and-away promotion/relegation play-off.
The expansion of the UEFA Nations League into the International Match Calendar window of March will only concern a selected number of teams and the remaining teams will already be available to start the European Qualifiers.
The new format of the European Qualifiers for UEFA EURO or the FIFA World Cup will be more consolidated, with teams being drawn in 12 groups of four and five teams, consequently revitalising the competition by making it less predictable and more dynamic.
With the traditional home-and-away matches and “all play all” principles retained, this simple format will offer more competitive groups at all levels.
Teams drawn in groups of five will kick off the qualifiers in March, or in June if they are still competing in the UEFA Nations League quarter-finals or are involved in promotion/relegation matches. Teams drawn in groups of four will start their campaigns in September.
The group-winners of the European Qualifiers will qualify directly for the UEFA EURO or the FIFA World Cup, whereas the second-placed teams will either qualify directly or participate in play-off matches (together with UEFA Nations League teams for qualification to the UEFA EURO).
No change has been proposed for the UEFA EURO final tournament, which will still feature 24 teams.
The new format will be implemented after UEFA EURO 2024.
The next UEFA Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for 4 April 2023 – the day before the 47th Ordinary UEFA Congress – in Lisbon, Portugal.