The Sting

People react to the UEFA League of Nations

Fernando Castillo, sports editor, field reporter, photographer

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The UEFA League of Nations is an international tournament contested by the European men’s national teams across different groups in different leagues. All 55 UEFA members participated since the first match. The whole tournament was apparently made to replace international friendlies. The tournament made its debut on Sept. 6, shortly after France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The league matches are played from September to November. The winners in each group from League A qualify for the Nations League Finals next year in June, and the team that wins the final is declared the inaugural champion. The four nations (one from each League) also qualifies for the UEFA European Championship 2020.

Here’s how the concept of the tournament works. There are four leagues. Four groups are formed with either three teams or four each. In this case, Group 1 of League C has three teams (Scotland, Albania, and Israel). League A and B have 12 teams each, League C has 15 and League D has 16. Each team plays against another team in a home-and-away series. “I think it sounds cool, even though it’s complicated,” says senior Lincoln Haugh. Supporters claim that competitive soccer is the only way that they would get to see some real action. However, critics claim that since weaker teams can occupy any of the 20 out of 24 spots for UEFA 2020, stronger teams may not be present in that tournament. The tournament already has a link for the UEFA Euro 2020 and beyond, but may also be linked for future World Cups, possibly starting in FIFA World Cup United 2026.

  • Winners from each group in League D get promoted to League C. The bottom finishers from each group in League C gets relegated to League D. However, since Group 1 from League C has three teams, one of the third-place finishers also gets relegated. Whichever team performs the worst of them all gets sent down a level with the rest.
  • Winners from each group in League C gets promoted to League B. They will replace the teams that finished last in their group in League B.
  • Winners from each group in League B gets promoted to League A. Just like with Leagues C and D, the bottom finishers get relegated to League B.
  • Winners from each group in League A will qualify directly to the Nations League Finals. The method of determining the League of Nations Champion was decided on a knockout format: The Semi-Finals, the Third-Place Match, and the Final. Whichever team that wins the Semi-Final and Final is declared as the inaugural winner of the UEFA League of Nations.

The first matches were played on Sept. 6 and 8 and some teams played another match from Sept. 9 and 11. The matches were either one-sided or a bit of a struggle. Croatia had the hardest blow in their first match. Before the League of Nations, they finished second overall in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But after day one on their calendar, they lost to Spain by six goals, without scoring any of their own. Italy is one of the strongest teams in Europe, but after failing to make it for the World Cup, some more pain was delivered when they couldn’t win in any of their first two games. They tied with Poland 1-1 and lost to Portugal 0-1. Switzerland are dominating, following a 6-0 win against Iceland. World Cup champions France are leading their group following a goalless deadlock against Germany, who shocked the world by finishing last in their group at the World Cup. So, some of the surprises are coming right off the bat, which proves the point of the critics. Some of the weaker teams can qualify and represent their nation in 2020, but the problem is that they would have to take on the much stronger teams, and it could only end in embarrassment unless an upset happens. Stronger teams must face against other strong teams and fight for the positions, or else would have to go through a “pointless” qualifying group. Teams like Bulgaria and Russia would have no trouble at all with their groups. It’s either that the teams have trained but are still in equal strength with their opponents, that teams like Croatia have much more at stake, or that teams are down in the dumps and are not doing well like they used to. But as of now, the tournament is yet to be completed, so it’s too early to decide if the tournament is either a success or a fail.

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