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Nations League to include extra knockout round, European Qualifiers revamped

UEFA logo on view at UEFA headquarters in Nyon. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

European football's governing body Uefa has announced an expansion of its Nations League national-team competition with the addition of a new knockout round from 2024 and revamped the European qualification process for major tournaments.

Uefa's Executive Committee, meeting at its headquarters in Nyon today (Wednesday), decided that the extra knockout round will be played in March, following the group phase in November and ahead of the four-team finals in June.

League A group winners and runners-up will participate in home-and-away format quarter-finals, with the winners qualifying for the final four.

The third-ranked team in League A and the runners-up of League B, as well as the third-ranked team of League B and the runners-up of League C will play a home-and-away promotion/relegation play-off.

The extra March matches will also result in a modification to the qualifiers for the European Championship and World Cup finals.

Teams will now be drawn in 12 qualifying groups of four and five teams, rather than the previous five- or six-team groups, beginning with the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

Uefa said that it would create more compelling competitions to “boost excitement without increasing the number of matches”.

Commenting on the revamped competitions, Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin said: “The introduction of the Uefa Nations League was a success story, replacing friendly games with more competitive matches. And now, by introducing the new knock-out phase, teams will be given even more opportunities to progress while keeping the same number of games within the international match calendar.

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