Connected Nations League and European Qualifiers to deliver more competitive matches
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In line with UEFA’s Women’s Football Strategy: Time For Action and the goal to transform competitions, the UEFA Executive Committee yesterday approved a new and innovative national team competition system that ultimately leads to qualification for the UEFA Women’s EURO or the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The changes come after extensive work by a national team competitions working group comprising representatives from different national associations and follows a recommendation of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee.
The first time the new format will be played is in the lead-up to UEFA Women’s EURO 2025. Starting in autumn 2023, the new national team competition system connects a Nations League with European Qualifiers; offers promotion, relegation and Nations League finals in between; and adds exciting European Qualifiers play-off matches at the end. The new league-style format will divide national associations into three tiers. Within each tier, national teams will play in groups of four (or three) and on a home-and-away basis against each opponent in their group.
At the end of the Nations League, the finals determine the Nations League winner and, every four years, the three European teams that will qualify for the Olympics. The final Nations League ranking (with automatic promotion and relegation), and the promotion and relegation matches, will also establish the starting league positioning of teams in the European Qualifiers.
At the end of the European Qualifiers, the final ranking will determine the teams that qualify directly for the UEFA Women’s EURO or the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the teams that can qualify via the European Qualifiers play-offs. In addition, the final European Qualifiers ranking (with automatic promotion and relegation) will be used to determine in which league national associations start in the next competition cycle.
The revamped format is interconnected, dynamic and meritocratic, and aims to create a more competitive environment with greater sporting and commercial interest, while still guaranteeing the chance for all national associations to qualify for the UEFA Women’s EURO and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Commenting on the new format, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin explained:
“I said this summer that we would continue to invest in women’s football, and we are. Off the back of a historic UEFA Women’s EURO, it is now time to further develop women’s national team football. We have built an open, competitive, and continuous system in which every match will matter, a true reflection of the European sports model. I am convinced that this format will help all European national associations and keep the dream of qualifying for a major international tournament alive.”
For more information, please see the detailed explainer text on UEFA.com.