How did the UEFA Nations League come about?

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UEFA Nations League: all info at a glance!

The UEFA Nations League is the youngest brother among the international football competitions, in which all UEFA member states participate. The UEFA Nations League is played every two years.


UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) was given the task of coordinating and guiding the cooperation between the various football associations. That is why regular consultations are scheduled. At the UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus in 2011, it quickly became clear that the football associations were no longer satisfied with the then ‘international matches’ that were being played. These friendly international matches were found to be too noncommittal.

After considerable further consultation, UEFA announced on 27 March 2014 at the 38th UEFA Congress in Kazakhstan that a new competition was effectively in the making. A few months later, the time had come: on December 4, 2014, the formal approval of both the set-up and the competition schedule took place.

The actual start of the UEFA Nations League was not forthcoming until September 2018.

The first match was played after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was then played in Russia. Portugal was crowned the first winner of this new competition and took home the enchanting cup. The special thing about this UEFA Nations League cup is that the design is based on the competition logo. The inside of the chalice is colored, with the colors of each flag of each participating country being represented. The cup, made of 100% solid silver, was presented with great interest during the draw for the 2018-2019 season, by the president of UEFA, Slovenian Aleksander Čeferin.

In addition to the cup, an own hymn for the UEFA Nations League was also composed. The duo Giorgio Tuinfort and Franck van der Heijden wrote a song that was sung by the Groot Omroepkoor, accompanied by the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

What is the competition like?

The original competition rules drawn up in 2014 included the following:

  • The UEFA Nations League is played every two years, in the months of September, October and November of even years.
  • There are 55 member states. UEFA divides these 55 member states into four divisions. These 4 divisions in turn consist of groups or groups. Each team therefore plays four to six matches within its own group.
  • The divisions:
    • Division A
      • Top or First Division
      • 12 teams
    • Division B
      • Second Division
      • 12 teams
    • Division C
      • Third Division
      • 15 teams
    • Division D
      • Fourth Division
      • 16 teams
    • UEFA bases its determination of the four divisions on the so-called country coefficients. Based on the performance of the national football team during the past year, the countries are included in a certain ranking. A major advantage of this system is that teams with a comparable level are placed in the same pool.
    • Each winner of each division is automatically qualified for the play-offs, where tickets for the European Championship and also the World Championship can be won. But! If a team has already qualified for the European Championship or the World Cup via the regular competition, the play-off ticket is moved to the next country in the ranking in that same division.
    • The four group winners in the first division A always play for the title in an odd year.
    • The four group winners in divisions B, C and D will be promoted (i.e. rising in the ranking), while the lowest placed teams in each group in divisions A, B and C will be relegated (decreasing in the ranking).

The Final Four

The four winners of the groups in League A play for the title in what is also known as a knockout system. These Final Four (last 4 matches) knockout matches consist of two semi-finals, a consolation final and a final. These semi-finals and final are played in June of the odd year. The Final four are therefore the final matches in which one country becomes champion of the UEFA Nations League, but unfortunately does not receive a ticket for the European Championship or World Cup.

Improving the UEFA Nations League competition rules

UEFA decided to introduce a number of changes after the first edition of the UEFA Nations League:

  • The number of member states in the divisions changes:
    • A: 16 Nations
    • B: 16 Nations
    • C: 16 Nations
    • D: 7 Nations
  • Only 2 countries are relegated from Division C to Division D.


The following schematic overview provides a clear insight into the course of the UEFA Nations League:


Phase I – Group Matches UEFA divides 55 participants into four divisions:

A: 16 countries

B: 16 countries

C: 16 countries

D: 7 countries

Each division consists of 3 or 4 teams (so-called groups), which must play against each other twice. These teams are allocated by lottery.

The four group winners of divisions B, C and D are all promoted, the last four teams of divisions A, B and C are relegated.

Phase II – Final Four The four group winners of division A play the Final Four:

–          Semifinal 1

–          Semifinal 2

–          Consolation Final

–          Finals

There are no European Championship tickets or World Cup tickets available in these Final Four. The winner of the final takes home the UEFA Nations League Cup.

Phase III – Play-offs for 4 European Championship tickets The group winners of each division play play-off matches where the winner

win a ticket for the European Championship in an odd year

win a World Cup ticket in an even year

If a team has already won a ticket for the European Championship or the World Cup, the chance goes to the next in the ranking.


The big advantage of this phase is that a smaller team can also compete for a place for the European Championship or World Cup.

A disadvantage could be that a team deliberately lowers the ranking in order to end up in an ‘easier’ division for the next edition of the UEFA Nations League, which automatically also means another chance at getting a European Championship. ticket or World Cup ticket   means.

Phase IV – The European Championship or World Cup itself The final Euro 2020 was played by 20 countries, of which:

–          16 countries that have qualified through normal means

–          The four winners of the UEFA Nations League play-offs

For the 2022 World Cup, two of the ten play-off places will be reserved through the UEFA Nations League.

Was there a need for a third international competition?

The UEFA Nations League offers a number of advantages over the previous system of friend matches and international matches without any real consequences. The idea behind organizing a third, new international competition was on the one hand to replace the substandard, often lackluster friendly matches with higher-quality football.

Because higher earnings are now linked to international matches, UEFA expects the teams to show a higher level of play. On the other hand, the UEFA Nations League now also gives the smaller teams or countries the opportunity to play at a higher level. In addition, they are placed in a team of equal caliber, which significantly increases their chances of a higher ranking.

Overview of the first two editions of the UEFA Nations League

The following table provides an overview of the 55 member countries and their playing performances during the past two editions of the UEFA Nations League. The teams that finished first, second and third respectively were marked in yellow.


Country 2018-2019 2020-2021
Division To promote


Final standings Division To promote


Final standings
Albania C 34 C P 35
Andorra D 53 D 55
Armenia D P 45 C P 36
Azerbaijan D P 46 C 43
Belgium A 5 A 4
Bosnia and Herzegovina B P 13 A D 15
Bulgaria C P 29 B D 31
Cyprus C 36 C 46
Denmark B P 15 A 7
Germany A 11 A 8
England A 3 A 9
Estonia C 37 C 47
Faroe Islands D 50 D P 50
Finland C P 28 B 21
France A 6 A 1
Georgia D P 40 C 42
Gibraltar D 49 D P 49
Greece C 33 C 37
Hungary C P 31 B P 20
Ireland B 23 B 28
Iceland A 12 A D 16
Israel C P 30 B 25
Italy A 8 A 3
Kazakhstan D P 47 C 45
Kosovo D P 42 C 44
Croatia A 9 A 12
Latvia D 51 D 53
Liechtenstein D 52 D 51
Lithuania C 39 C 41
Luxembourg D P 44 C 39
Malta D 54 D 52
Moldavia D P 48 C 48
Montenegro C 35 C P 34
The Netherlands A 2 A 6
Northern Ireland B 24 B D 32
North Macedonia D P 41 C 40
Norway C P 26 B 22
Ukraine B P 14 A D 13
Austria B 18 B P 18
Poland A 10 A 10
Portugal A 1 A 5
Romania C P 32 B 26
Russia B 17 B 24
San Marino D 55 D 54
Scotland C P 28 B 23
Serbia C P 27 B 27
Slovenia C 38 C P 33
Slovakia B 21 B D 30
Spain A 7 A 2
Czech Republic B 20 B P 19
Turkey B 22 B D 29
Wales B 19 B P 17
Belarus D P 43 C 38
Sweden B P 16 A D 14
Switzerland A 4 A 11

Edition 2022-2023

The draw for the team division of the third edition of the UEFA Nations League will be organized in 2021. This draw will take place on December 16 in Montreux, Switzerland.

The actual UEFA Nations League itself will start next year, in June 2022. When all national competitions have been settled, the players will prepare for the international matches.

On June 2, the kick-off will be given for the first four days of play. The last day of play falls on June 14 at the latest. Matchdays 5 and 6 will follow at the end of September. The four exciting final matches between the four group winners of the first division, the Final Four, are scheduled between 14 and 18 June 2023.

UEFA Nations League calendar and dates:

December 16, 2021 Group stage draw
June 2-8, 2022 Match days 1 and 2
June 8-14, 2022 Match days 3 and 4
September 22-27, 2022 Match days 5 and 6
To be defined Draw for the final
June 14-15, 2023 Semi-finals
June 18, 2023 Consolation final and final
March 21-23 and 24-26, 2024 Playoffs


Betting on the UEFA Nations League

Bets can be placed on all matches of the UEFA Nations League. You can of course bet on which team will ultimately win the competition, but also who will take first place within a division, who will score when, whether yellow and red cards will be handed out, and so on. The possibilities to bet on the matches of the UEFA Nations League are very extensive!


Place2bet wishes you good luck!

Gamble in moderation. Enjoy the game.

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