UEFA, Europe’s governing body for football, has announced there will be a new competition starting next autumn as the teams build up for the 2025 Women’s European championships. We will now see a Women’s Nations League competition.
The biennial men’s competition was introduced in 2018 to replace international friendlies and provide more competitive games. France are the current champions of the men’s competition having beaten Spain 2-1 in the 2020/21 final. England suffered embarrassment earlier this autumn after they were booted out of their Nations League tier following defeats to Hungary and Italy. Conversely, Scotland moved up a tier, to join the European footballing elite.
The success of the Women’s Euros tournament earlier this year was a huge driving force in instigating the UEFA Nations League. The Wembley final between England and Germany saw a record attendance at a European championship in both the men and women’s tournaments. A further 365 million are also reported to have watched the grand finale on the TV.
England’s roaring achievements at the competition have also encouraged a greater interest in the Women’s Super League. The North London derby, held at the Emirates Stadium, had a record WSL crowd in attendance with 47,367 fans watching Arsenal thrash Tottenham 4-0.
Now, as the teams look forward to competing in another tournament, here is what to expect from the Women’s Nations League...
What has been said?
The UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said: “I said this summer that we would continue to invest in women’s football, and we are. Off the back of a historic Women’s Euros, it’s 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.”
Proposals for a revamping of women’s national team competitions were presented to member associations by a working group in Frankfurt last month ahead of the qualifying draw for the men’s Euros 2024. These new formats were then officially ratified by UEFA’s ruling executive committee on Wednesday (2 November).
What will the structure of the Nations League be?
The Women’s tournament will see countries placed into leagues with three or four teams based on ranking with promotion and relgation between the three tiers. The winners of the four top-tiered groups will then go on to play the Nations League finals.
The outcome of the Nations League will also link into the qualification for both the 2025 European competition and the 2027 World Cup, as the country’s Nations League rank will determine a team’s starting league position in the qualifiers.
The European qualifiers, set to start in Spring 2024, will determine the qualification for the Euros 2026 and will also be indicative of where each team will start in the league for the following Nations League campaign. The new competition is also set to determine which three European sides qualify for the Olympics.