UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, has today (November 3) unveiled a new national team competition system for the women’s game that will involve qualification for the UEFA Women’s Euro and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
UEFA has stated that the new format, approved by its executive committee yesterday (November 2), is in line with the organization’s Women’s Football Strategy, which was launched in 2019.
The changes come after “extensive” work by a national team competitions working group comprising representatives from different national associations and follow a recommendation of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee.
The new format will come into effect in the lead-up to the 2025 UEFA Women’s Euro premier continental competition.
Starting in autumn 2023, the new national team competition system will connect a Nations League with European qualifiers – featuring promotion, relegation, and Nations League finals in between – as well as adding European qualifier playoff matches at the end, mirroring the system used in men’s soccer.
The new league-style format will divide national teams into three tiers. Within each tier, countries will play in groups of four or three and on a home-and-away basis against each opponent in their group.
At the end of the Nations League, the finals determine the winner and, every four years, the three European teams that will qualify for the Olympics.
The final Nations League ranking (with automatic promotion and relegation), and the promotion and relegation matches, will also establish the starting league positioning of teams in the European qualifiers.
The qualification period will determine the teams that secure direct routes into the UEFA Women’s Euro or the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the teams that can qualify via the European qualifiers playoffs.
In addition, the final European qualifiers ranking will be used to determine in which league national teams start in the next competition cycle.
UEFA said the revamped format is “interconnected, dynamic and meritocratic, and aims to create a more competitive environment with greater sporting and commercial interest, while still guaranteeing the chance for all national associations to qualify for the UEFA Women’s Euro and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president, said: “I said this summer that we would continue to invest in women’s football, and we are. Off the back of a historic UEFA Women’s Euro, it is 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.”