UEFA-led plan for biennial ‘mini world cup’

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Association of Europe’s national football associations is reportedly leading a vision for Global Nations League. The biennial football competition will involve 223 national teams and culminate into an eight-team knock out tournament every two years.

The tournament finals that shape up like a mini-World Cup will have three teams from Europe, two from South America and one each from Africa, Asia, and the North American region, Associated Press has reported. The top-tier finals are being planned for 2021 and then every alternate year. The complex format involves regional qualifying groups with promotion and relegation and intercontinental finals brackets in seven divisions.

The proposed format will allow the top eight teams to play quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in just one week. A single nation would host the finals. AP has reported on basis of information from an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.  The official was a party to the talks which have been kept confidential.

The proposed plan would invite all 223 members of soccer’s six continental confederations and take place every two years.

The format expands on UEFA’s Nations League, which kicks off next September in Europe.

“UEFA can confirm that it has initiated discussions regarding the evolution of the UEFA Nations League,” the governing body of European soccer had said in a statement.

FIFA has confirmed in a separate statement that it was “involved in the process from the beginning. Thanks to the cooperative atmosphere FIFA will continue to have constructive discussions about the next steps together with UEFA and the other confederations.”

Teams would be graded in seven divisions according to their FIFA ranking. Each confederation would run its own qualifying groups with promotion and relegation every two years.

Group winners would advance to eight-team intercontinental tournaments in each of the seven divisions played in June, and broadcast around the clock.

If approved, the league will become the stage for the teams like Germany and Brazil, Spain and Argentina, Japan and the United States, to play each other competitively up to two times between each World Cup.

The project is still being discussed by the confederations with FIFA. They would be invited to team up in a new entity to jointly manage the event.

“These constructive discussions involve our national associations, European football stakeholders, all confederations and of course FIFA, with whom we have a very good relationship,” UEFA said. “No decisions have been made at this time.”

SHEER COMPETITION, NO FRIENDLIES!

 The Global Nations League would directly replace many of the often-meaningless friendly matches on already scheduled fixture dates. The concept is to give national teams competitive games against opponents at a similar level and to replace friendlies that are less interesting to fans and broadcasters.

The likely appeal of the Global Nations League for most FIFA member federations, who rarely qualify for a World Cup, is a realistic chance to compete for a trophy and prize money by qualifying for a final tournament. It would also align with the FIFA-managed calendar of playing dates when clubs must release players for national-team duty.

The June 2021 dates are seen as a prime slot for a new or expanded competition because FIFA has said the Confederations Cup is at risk of being scrapped.

A potential issue is FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s suggestion of a 24-team Club World Cup as an option for June 2021. The FIFA council will discuss a review of international competitions in March at a meeting in Bogota, Colombia.

Still, a Global Nations League raising the profile of national teams would appeal more to FIFA member federations. They get few benefits from the success of elite clubs and are in line to get a share of Global Nations League revenue from centralized commercial deals.

Broadcast rights to the proposed new competition are seen as likely to interest media companies now focusing on sports, such as Amazon, Google and Netflix.


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