Weeks back, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp regarded the UEFA Nations League as the “most senseless competition” in world football, as reported by Goal. He saw no reason for another form of competition when the World Cup and the Euro Championship are enough.
However, what Klopp failed to realise was that international football is largely non-competitive. Aside the World Cup tournament and the championships established by continental football bodies as well as their qualification rounds, international football is largely the off-peak business period.
Even high profile international friendlies don’t attract as much attention as competitive club or tournament matches. Hence, the establishment of the nations league betting – a platform that makes international football more competitive and get a chunk of football fans involved.
Contrary to what many may believe, the UEFA Nations League doesn’t increase the number of international matches. Rather, it makes these matches less of a friendly, and more of games with real consequences.
The structure of the league is such that there are four divisions – League A, B, C, and D. Each of these divisions is further grouped into four. The winners of each of these groups will qualify for the finals next summer. Additionally, the losers in each group will be relegated to the groups in League B and the winners of each group in League B will be promoted to League A. The same is applied all the way down to League D teams.
In the same manner that European clubs have two grand competitions (the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League), and FIFA organises both the World Cup and the Confederations Cup, it is absolutely impressive to have another competitive tournament in Europe designed for countries.
Previously, it was well known how top players boycott meaningless friendlies. Many of these friendlies were played just to fill the international friendly dates. With the advent of the UEFA Nations League, top players will be eager to turn up for their respective countries.
Club managers (like Klopp) who are against the idea will have to live with it. FIFA is set to have a new format for the Club World Cup which will be designed in form of a 24-team tournament. The world football body is also set to introduce a bigger world cup in terms of the number of teams.
The football pitch is fast becoming less of a playground. Today, it is more of a battleground. And that rightly justifies the UEFA Nations League.