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UEFA to back Nations League

26 March 2014, 19:38

Astana - UEFA are expected to announce the introduction of a new Nations League for national teams from 2018 and tougher, Europe-wide sanctions against match fixing at their Congress on Thursday.

The annual meeting of the 54 member associations will almost certainly endorse both proposals when they vote in the snowy capital of the central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino told a media briefing on Wednesday that Michel Platini's presidential speech at the opening of the Congress would provide a turning point for European soccer.

UEFA's executive committee will put both proposals to delegates, some of whom have travelled more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) to reach Astana, the futuristic city that rises isolated on the flat Kazakh steppe.

Although the exact details have yet to be revealed, the Nations League competition will largely replace friendly games and become, in effect, the third major international competition for European teams after the World Cup and European Championship.

The plan would involve teams playing in three or four divisions, with promotion and relegation between them.

The competition would culminate in a "final four" tournament with two semi-finals and a final taking place at a neutral venue in the summer of odd-numbered years.

Infantino said the details would be announced at Congress.

"What has triggered this whole discussion is that we have been working to establish a new international calendar," he said.

"We also wanted to bring more structure to the dates when there are friendly matches.

"There are some countries everyone wants to play against and other teams who struggle to find opponents, so we looked for something new and have come up with the Nations League, which will be presented to Congress on Thursday."

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