UEFA have unveiled a new women’s Qualifying format for major tournaments from Autumn 2023, with addition of Nations League phrase.
This new women’s competition comes after two successful edition of UEFA Men’s Nations League and will provide a more competitive route for women’s teams to qualify for UEFA Women’s Euros and FIFA Women’s World Cup.
UEFA Executive Committee have approved this new tournament and the inaugural Women’s Nations League will take place in Autumn 2023, with national teams split across individual groups within three separate tiers (League A,B, & C) containing promotion and relegation plus League A Finals.
Three or four national teams will be placed within each individual group, playing on a home-and-away basis against their group opposition, with those competing in League A in four groups of four teams battling to top their group and reach Nations League A Finals.
UEFA have also confirmed that whichever national teams finish in in the top three places out of those who qualified for the Finals, will also secure UEFA’s qualification places for the Olympics.
The European Qualifiers have also been reformatted and will now have a League format, with rankings at end of Nations League stage determining the starting league position of teams for European Qualifiers.
This format change means that a poor Nations League campaign will likely mean a more difficult Qualifying group in the European Qualifiers stage, with the eight best-ranked League A teams in European Qualifiers league rankings automatically assured of a spot at main Euro or World Cup tournament.
Those who have failed to qualify automatically will consequently enter the two-stage Play-Offs with the following rules in place, concerning how teams will be drawn together in the First Play-Off Round;
- Teams finishing third and fourth in League A will play group winners plus three best-ranked runners-up in League C across eight ties, with the eight winners advancing to the second play-off round.
- Four group winners and two best-ranked runners-up in League B will be drawn against the two other runners-up and four third-placed teams in the same league across six ties, with the six winners advancing to the second play-off round.
In the Second Play-Off Round, the 14 remaining teams yet to secure qualification will be drawn into seven individual ties, where the seven winners will earn their places at the main tournament.
UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin explained that these changes will serve as stronger investment in the women’s game, as he explained the new format, in which he said: “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.”
How Will New League Format Work For UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 Qualifcation?
16 teams will be allocated to Leagues A and B based on UEFA Rankings, where they will be placed in four groups containing four teams each, with each team in each group each playing one another on home-and-away basis across six matchdays.
League C meanwhile will contain 19 teams with four groups consisting of four teams and one group consisting of three teams.
As for promotion and relegation between Nations League and European Qualifier phrases, here is how both systems will be applied;
- Teams who top their group in Leagues B and C will be promoted to the next League.
- Teams who finish 1-3 in their League A groups will be safe in League A.
- Runners-up and three best third-placed teams in League B will stay in that league.
- Runners-up, third-place and fourth-place teams in League C will stay in that league.
- All fourth-placed teams in League A plus the lowest-ranked third-placed team in League B will be relegated to the next league below their current league.
The final rankings at end of Nations League phrase will then determine the various leagues for European Qualfiers phrase, with the top eight teams in League A earning direct qualification to the main tournament whilst the rest of League A plus some teams in Leagues B and C face the Play-Offs.
There will be two stages to the play-offs with the First Play-Off stage seeing third and fourth-placed teams in League A meet group winners and three best-ranked runners-up in League C, with eight ties in total from which eight winners advance to the second play-off round.
League B group winners and two best-raned runners-up will be drawn against the two other runners-up and four third-placed teams across six ties, with the six winners advancing to the second play-off round.
The Second Play-Off round will see all 14 teams placed into seven ties, from which the winner of each tie will advance to the main tournament.
Nations League phrase will be played from Autumn 2023 – Spring 2024, with the European Qualifiers phrase running from Spring – Autumn 2024.