Arsenal Women´s Eidevall on new UEFA Women’s Nations League By Michelle
A Women’s Nations League will take place for the first time next year. European football’s governing body UEFA announced the new competition will begin in Autumn 2023 in the lead up to the 2025 Women’s European Championship. The men’s UEFA Nations League was introduced in 2018 to replace international friendlies with more competitive games.
Off the back of a historic Women’s Euros, it’s now time to further develop women’s national team football, said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
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.
Countries will be placed into leagues of three or four teams based on ranking for the Women’s Nations League, with promotion and relegation between three tiers and the winners of the four top-tier groups will be in the Nations League finals.
The competition will link into qualification for both the 2025 European Championship and the 2027 World Cup, with a country’s Nations League rank determining a team’s starting league position in the qualifiers.
The European qualifiers, which begin in Spring 2024, will determine qualification for the European Championships and a team’s starting league position in the following Nations League campaign.
Every four years, the Nations League finals will also determine which three European sides qualify for the Olympics. For 2024, the Olympic hosts France will be joined by the two Nations League finalists – or third-placed team if France reach the final.
When recently asked about the announcement of the new UEFA Women’s Nations League and playing more international matches Jonas had this to say:
So, I’m not fully read up on the Nations League and what it will mean, but when you look at it, it will lead to hopefully more games with teams at a similar level, which I can really see the benefits of from a way of marketing the game and making the game more exciting, which I think is the right way to go, when not playing games that will finish 7-0, 8-0 and so on, that a lot of the qualifiers we’re doing now when we see World Cup qualifiers on the women’s side.
Now comes the other question for it, and it’s what you’re trying to say, not only do we increase games, we are also increasing the number of tougher games. We do need both at the club level with the Champions League group stage, but we’re also doing it in the international calendar. And then the question comes, who is going to play all the games?
I think it’s great as we are creating more of these games, but now we also need to focus on saying how do we develop more players that are able to play those games at some level. And here I think there are some questions here that needs to be raised to say on club level, with academy systems and on international level to see that it’s great that the first international national teams are playing more competitive games, but you still don’t have any competitive U-23 games. You still haven’t addressed the issue from UEFA or FIFA’s side to say how do you bridge the gap from under-19 competition up to the senior team competition.
I think these are the questions that have now become even more important that we get an answer to because the load on the individual player at the moment is increasing all the time, so we will have need to have more players that share that load because otherwise we’re going to end up injuring players. I don’t have the exact statistic on it, but I have the feeling when I see right now in women’s football, and I have a bad gut feeling about that, but I see that there are so many high profile players in the game right now that are out with longer injuries. And I think these things are linked together, so it is really important that you strike the balance on it.
So what are your thoughts on the new UEFA Women’s Nations League? It will be an interesting one to watch as it develops through 2023.
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