GENEVA (AP) — UEFA is preparing a Nations League to replace most international friendlies, and wants to offer qualifying places for the European Championship.
UEFA's 54 member federations will be asked on Thursday at their annual Congress to approve the new competition which could kick off after the 2018 World Cup.
Two officials with knowledge of the Nations League told The Associated Press that the format should give some direct entries to UEFA's showpiece national team event, Euro 2020.
They were not authorized to comment ahead of a scheduled presentation on Thursday.
UEFA President Michel Platini has pledged in his second term in office to raise the status and commercial value of friendlies amid the rise in popularity of lucrative European club football.
The Nations League would guarantee fixtures between top-ranked countries and allow promotion and relegation between up to four divisions of national teams.
UEFA members were told the top tier could be decided by a four-team tournament, played in mid-2019 at a neutral venue.
Matches would be played on dates reserved for international fixtures on the FIFA calendar, which states when clubs must release players to national teams.
The current calendar expires in July 2018, after the World Cup in Russia, and was agreed after pressure from European clubs to remove unpopular friendly dates in February and August. National teams will now play two competitive or friendly matches spread over a six-day, Thursday-to-Tuesday window.
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