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International news: UEFA unveils details of inaugural Nations League to be played in 2018

UEFA has announced its inaugural Nations League will take place between September and November in 2018.

European football's governing body is initiating the new tournament as a replacement for most international friendlies in the hope it will bring "added status and appeal to national team football."

The format will see 52 competing teams split according to UEFA coefficient into four divisions, each of which will contain four separate groups. Each team will play six games in the initial phase.

The four divisional winners from the top group will then play semi-finals and finals in June 2019 to determine the overall champion, and there will be promotion and relegation between groups lower down.

Finishing positions in the Nations League will have a bearing on the draw for the Euro 2020 European qualifiers, which take place between March to November 2019.

And UEFA will hold back four Euro 2020 places for teams who do well in the Nations League but fail to come through the European qualifiers. Those four places will be fought over by 16 teams - four from each division of the Nations League - a format which, in theory, opens another door to qualification for some of Europe's lower-ranked teams.

A UEFA statement read: "The key driver of the UEFA Nations League is sporting integrity, as member associations, coaches, players and supporters increasingly feel that friendly internationals are not providing adequate sporting competition.

"In addition, the competition will help UEFA realise its stated goal of improving the quality and standing of national team football while maintaining the balance between club and international football.

"The competition will establish the UEFA Nations League champions every odd year while also allowing all nations to play competitively at their level."


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