By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England, Nov 4 (Reuters) – FIFA has confirmed it is considering ways to expand UEFA’s new Nations League tournament on a global scale with ongoing talks involving a number of regional confederations considering radical proposals.
UEFA’s Nations League starts next September and features four divisions of national teams, replacing friendlies with competitive fixtures.
While the format has yet to be tested, the idea of a similar style of competition has already been under consideration at CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
With UEFA’s competition set to fill the international dates left for friendly games, teams in other confederations will find it difficult to get windows for games against European nations.
Responding to reports that UEFA was talking with other confederations, the global governing body said it was directly involved in the discussions.
“FIFA has been always involved from the beginning in the process. Thanks to the cooperative atmosphere FIFA will continue to have constructive discussions about the next steps together with UEFA and the other confederations,” the global governing body said in a statement.
UEFA said it had begun the process of consultation with all concerned bodies.
“UEFA can confirm that it has initiated discussions regarding the evolution of the UEFA Nations League. These constructive discussions involve our national associations, European football stakeholders, all confederations and of course FIFA, with whom we have a very good relationship.
“We have included them in discussions on this topic since the start. No decisions have been made at this time,” it said in a statement.
CONCACAF did not respond to a request for comment but in April their president Victor Montagliani told Reuters that the body was well on the way to creating its own version of UEFA’s competition.
“There has been overwhelming acceptance that it is a great idea and the way we need to go. There are a few formats that we have looked at and we have had various members coming back with ideas,” he said.
“What people need to realise is that the world of friendlies is going to change, with Europe changing to the Nations League, it is going to get harder to get friendlies,” said Montagliani who believes that will be no great loss.
While discussions are at a relatively early stage, one of the ideas that has been floated in media reports is for regional ‘leagues’ with a mini-tournament involving the winners from across the world.
Such mini-tournaments could also be held for teams from the lower divisions from different confederations, creating a sort of ‘minnows World Cup’. (Editing by Clare Fallon)
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