UEFA Nations League to play a role in World Cup qualifying
The UEFA Nations League is set to play a role in 2022 World Cup qualifying. AGONAsport takes a closer look.
Last fall, the UEFA Nations League entered the footballing world as the newest international competition in Europe. Portugal, under former Greece coach Fernando Santos, was the first country to lift the Nations League trophy.
Overall, the Nations League was deemed a huge success as nations across Europe fought against teams ‘in the same playing field’ for top spot in their respective groups and a place in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying playoffs. Greece, unfortunately, put together a dissapoting Nations League campaign, finishing in third place of League C’s Group 2 behind Finland, Hungary, and ahead of Estonia.
Similar to the first edition of the event, the second edition will play a role in the qualifying process for the next major tournament, the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Although its role has not been clearly defined, a decision is expected to be made on September 24th by UEFA in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The 2022 World Cup will take place in December, due to Qatar’s extreme summer heat, and will consist of 32 teams. The competition will increase to 48 teams for the 2026 edition in North America. Europe will be given 13 representatives at the 2022 World Cup.
Initial reports are indicating that the World Cup qualifying process will consist of ten groups and the ten group winners will automatically earn a place at the 2022 World Cup. The ten groupo runner-ups, along with two teams from the Nations League, will compete in the playoffs for the final three European places. The two UEFA Nations League spots will be reserved for the top two ranked teams from the 2020 UEFA Nations League, that have not qualified for the finals or playoffs via the qualifying process.
The playoffs will consist of two rounds. The 12 teams will be drawn into six pairs and the six winners will advance to the second playoff round. There, the six teams will be drawn into three paris with the three winners earning a ticket to the FIFA World Cup. The first and second round of playoffs are expected to take place over two legs.
With Greece set to compete in League C for the 2020 Nations League, this development will not affect the Ethniki as they fall way down the pecking order even if they top their respective League C group. Thus, Greece will look to qualify for the main event by finishing first or second in their respective qualifying group. That being said, the results in the 2020 Nations League could be used to seed teams for the FIFA World Cup qualifying draw, similar to how seeds were determined for the Euro 2020 qualifying draw.
None of the above information has been confirmed, only discussed. The second edition of the Nations League will be held in the fall of 2020 after next summer’s European championships, UEFA EURO 2020.