UEFA took another historic step in the development of women’s football by announcing the creation of the Nations League, a competition that will be key for European teams seeking qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
With France already in Paris 2024 as the organizing country of the next Olympic Games, Europe will define two other places and will be won by those teams that play the final of this first edition of the Nations League.
The president of UEFA, Aleksander Čeferin, said after learning about the creation of the Nations League that “it is time to continue developing football for women’s national teams”.
“I am convinced that this format will help all European national associations and will keep alive the dreams of qualifying for a more important international tournament,” said Čeferin, adding: “We have built an open, competitive and continuous system, in which every match will count. A faithful reflection of the European sports model”.
The UEFA president’s statement relates to the fact that the Nations League, in addition to granting two places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, will be essential for qualifying for Euro 2025 and the World Cup.
The women’s Nations League will have a format similar to the men’s competition that has been taking place since 2018: it will have different leagues, promotions and relegations. League A will be composed of four groups of four teams each, the same as League B, while in League C it will have four groups of four and one of three.
The top four in League A will go on to play the final round and the winners of the semifinals will play for the title. These finalists will secure qualification to Paris 2024 and if one of those selected is France, second place for the Olympic Games will be defined in the match by third place.
In men’s football, on the other hand, Europe has three places to define in addition to the one that France has already secured for hosting the Olympic Games. They will be announced at the U21 European Championship whose final phase will be organized by Georgia and Romania, from June 21 to July 8, 2023. It should be noted that in women’s football there is no age limit, as is the case for men, who must present an U23 team in Paris 2024 with the possibility of adding three older players to the squad.
The women’s soccer tournament at the Olympic Games will be played from July 24 to August 10, 2024, with 12 selected teams (16 teams in the men’s) and there are already four qualifiers: France, Brazil, Colombia and the United States. The competition venues will be Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Marseille, Nice and Bordeaux.
The Olympic Games have had women’s football since Atlanta 1996 and in that first edition the United States was consecrated, which also won the title in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012; Norway was champion in Sydney 2000, Germany won it in Rio 2016 and Canada won gold in Tokyo 2020.