UEFA Nations League 2022-2023 Stadiums & Stats

Almost since the moment that international football was invented, there have been complaints about the way that the preparatory games for tournaments like the World Cup and European Championships interfered with the domestic football calendar.

Rather than confront those complaints in any meaningful manner, UEFA decided to come up with a third tournament that has been given the moniker of the UEFA Nations League. It is not a tournament in the same way as the other two are, instead essentially being just a more organised way of playing international friendlies - although it does offer an alternative route to Euro and World Cup qualification, as Scotland found out to their benefit in 2020.

In this article we’ll tell you how the UEFA Nations League came about, including the moment that it was first revealed that a third international tournament was being considered by the governing body of European football. We’ll tell you how teams qualify for it, how it works and any other information that we think is readily available. Of course we will as always tell you all about the major stadiums involved and all the fixtures along the way.

The inaugural Nations League group stage was completed in 2018 with the four League A group winners progressing to the finals in June 2019: England, Portugal, Netherlands & Switzerland. The host is selected from among the semi-finalists and it was Portugal that was chosen to host the first ever finals. Portugal won the first ever event in their home country.

The second edition of the tournament took place in 2020/2021, with the group phase from September to November 2020 and the finals in October 2021. Group A1 nations were selected as potential hosts and as Italy won the group they will host the 2021 finals (delayed to October due to the Euros moving to 2021). Matches were played between the San Siro in Milan and Juventus Stadium in Turin. In spite of Italy's home advantage and 37-match unbeaten record at the time it was France were the overall victors, beating Belgium dramatically 3-2 in the semi-finals having been 2-0 down at half-time before beating Spain 2-1 in the final.

The third edition of the tournament runs from 2022-2023. The league phase will be held in June 2022 (4 matchdays) and September (2 matchdays) with the finals due to be held from 14-18 June 2023.

UEFA Nations League 2022-2023 Stadiums

Stadium Location League Group Capacity
Fisht Olympic Stadium Sochi, Russia B 3 47,659
San Siro Milan, Italy A (+Finals) 1 (+Finals) 80,018
Johan Cruyff Arena Amsterdam, Netherlands A 1 53,502
Baku National Stadium Baku, Azerbaijan C 1 69,870
Allianz Arena Munich, Germany A 4 75,000
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff, Wales B 4 33,280
Stadion Maksimir Zagreb, Croatia A 3 38,079
Wembley London, England A 2 90,000
Kaliningrad Stadium Konigsberg, Russia B 3 35,212
Parken Stadium Copenhagen, Denmark A 2 38,065
Veltins-Arena Gelsenkirchen, Germany A 4 62,271
De Kuip Rotterdam, Netherlands A 1 51,177
Stade De France Paris, France A 3 81,338
Puskás Arena Budapest, Hungary B 3 67,899
Aviva Stadium Dublin, Ireland B 4 51,700
Juventus Stadium Turin, Italy Finals Finals 41,507
Windsor Park Belfast, Northern Ireland B 1 18,434
Georgios Karaiskakis Piraeus, Greece C 3 32,115
Rajko Mitić Stadium Belgrade, Serbia B 3 55,538
Hampden Park Glasgow, Scotland B 2 51,866
Arena Națională Bucharest, Romania B 1 55,634
Friends Arena Stockholm, Sweden A 3 50,653
Atatürk Olympic Stadium Istanbul, Turkey B 3 76,761
The Principality Stadium Cardiff, Wales B 4 74,500

Final

FixtureUK KO TimeStadium
SpainvFrance10th OctoberSan Siro

Third Place Play Off

FixtureUK KO TimeStadium
ItalyvBelgium10th OctoberJuventus Stadium

Semi Finals

FixtureUK KO TimeStadium
ItalyvSpain6th OctoberSan Siro
BelgiumvFrance7th OctoberJuventus Stadium

Group Stages

League A

Country2021 RankGroupGroup PositionW-D-LPoints
Italy 3 1 1 3-3-0 12
Netherlands 6 1 2 3-2-1 11
Poland 10 1 3 2-1-3 7
Bos & Herz 15 1 4 0-2-4 2
Belgium 4 2 1 5-0-1 15
Denmark 7 2 2 3-1-2 10
England 9 2 3 3-1-2 10
Iceland 16 2 4 0-0-6 0
France 1 3 1 5-1-0 16
Portugal 5 3 2 4-1-1 13
Croatia 12 3 3 1-0-5 3
Sweden 14 3 4 1-0-5 3
Spain 2 4 1 3-2-1 11
Germany 8 4 2 2-3-1 9
Switzerland 11 4 3 1-3-2 6
Ukraine 13 4 4 2-0-4 6

League B

Country2021 RankGroupGroup PositionW-D-LPoints
Austria 17 1 1 4-1-1 13
Norway 22 1 2 3-1-2 10
Romania 25 1 3 2-2-2 8
N. Ireland 32 1 4 0-2-4 2
Czech Rep 19 2 1 4-0-2 12
Scotland 23 2 2 3-1-2 10
Israel 26 2 3 2-2-2 8
Slovakia 30 2 4 1-1-4 4
Hungary 20 3 1 3-2-1 11
Russia 24 3 2 2-2-2 8
Serbia 27 3 3 1-3-2 6
Turkey 29 3 4 1-3-2 6
Wales 17 4 1 5-1-0 16
Finland 21 4 2 4-0-2 12
Ireland 28 4 3 0-3-3 3
Bulgaria 31 4 4 0-2-4 2

League C

Country2021 RankGroupGroup PositionW-D-LPoints
Montenegro 34 1 1 4-1-1 13
Luxembourg 39 1 2 3-1-2 10
Azerbaijan 43 1 3 1-3-2 6
Cyprus 46 1 4 1-1-4 4
Armenia 36 2 1 3-2-1 11
Macedonia 40 2 2 2-3-1 9
Georgia 42 2 3 1-4-1 7
Estonia 47 2 4 0-3-3 3
Slovenia 33 3 1 4-2-0 14
Greece 37 3 2 3-3-0 12
Kosovo 44 3 3 1-2-3 5
Moldova 48 3 4 0-1-5 1
Albania 35 4 1 3-2-1 11
Belarus 38 4 2 3-1-2 10
Lithuania 41 4 3 2-2-2 8
Khazakhstan 45 4 4 1-1-4 4

League D

Country2021 RankGroupGroup PositionW-D-LPoints
Faroe Is 50 1 1 3-3-0 12
Malta 52 1 2 2-3-1 9
Latvia 53 1 3 1-4-1 7
Andorra 55 1 4 0-2-4 2
Gibraltar 49 2 1 2-2-0 8
Liech'stein 51 2 2 1-2-1 5
San Marino 54 2 3 0-2-2 2

Tournament Format

Qualification

nations league group structureThe short answer to the question of qualification for the tournament is that there is no need to qualify as such. After all, the hope is that this competition will replace the friendlies that are currently played according to FIFA’s International Match Calendar. As such, all fifty-five national teams from UEFA’s associate members will be eligible to take part.

One thing that is worth noting is that the tournament will be linked to qualifying for the UEFA European Championships and World Cup. That means that teams that don’t quality for the Euros or World Cup via traditional means will have the chance to do so via the UEFA Nations League. That’s not something that’s been met with universal approval, however. It’s felt that it will allow weaker teams to qualify who might not otherwise be able to do so, thereby cheapening the quality of both competitions.

The Group Stages

tournament strutureThe competition sees the fifty-five national sides that are part of UEFA split into four different Leagues. The format changed after the inaugural competition, initially leagues A & B had 12 teams with 4 groups of 3, League C had 15 teams with groups of 3 or 4 and League D had 16 teams with four groups of 4. The idea was the winners of League A groups would go to the finals and winners of other League groups would be promoted, group losers would be relegated. In the aftermath of the tournament however UEFA decided to scrap relegation that time around and teams were only promoted. This increases the size of the Leagues A-C and decreases the size of League D.

League A will is the top-seeded division and features sixteen teams, which is the same number as play in League B and League C. League D now has seven sides in it. Those Leagues are then be split into four groups (2 groups for League D), with four teams in each group with the exception of League D group two that has 3 teams. Each team in a group plays each other home and away.

The effect of these changes results in an increase in the overall number of Nations League group matches from 138 to 168, whether that was called for or not in another thing as we know UEFA's favourite thing to do is keep expanding competitions.

The Nations League Finals

nations league football in a netNever an organisation to shy away from complicating things unnecessarily, UEFA have then decided to allow the winners of each group in League A to compete against other to become the UEFA Nations League Champion. They’ll play in two semi-finals and then a final in order to determine this in June the following year. A play-off is held for third place.

The host for the finals is chosen from among the four semi-finalists. For the inaugural tournament in 2018-19 Portugal was chosen as host nation and for 2021 Italy were chosen as group A1 winners in each instance.

Promotion And Relegation

It’s not just the teams in League A that get to have all of the fun, however. Teams from all leagues can be promoted or relegated according to how they perform across all of their matches.

Each winner of each group in Leagues B, C and D will be promoted to the League above. This means four teams from League B & C are promoted and two teams from League D.

Teams that finish bottom of the group in Leagues A & B are relegated. Only two teams can be relegated from League C and so a play-off is held between the four group losers to decide that. Of course those that finish bottom in League D have not further to go and so stay where they are, only losing their own pride.

Prize Money

Armenia vs Gibraltar UEFA Nations League D 2018
Armenia vs Gibraltar UEFA Nations League D 2018 - Preacher lad [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Teams receive a base fee for taking part, this is €2.25M for league A, €1.5M league B, €1.125M league C and €0.75M league D. Each group winner then receives an additional bonus equal to the league fee.

The winner of the Nations League finals will receive a trophy and €6 million in prize money, the runner up gets €4.5M. There is also a third place play-off with 3rd placed team pocketing €3.5M and fourth place €2.5M. This is in addition to group winner and base fees.

The maximum a team can win therefore is €10.5M for winning the final. The maximum a league B team can win is €3M, league C is €2.25 and league D is €1.5.

World Cup and Euro Qualification

world cup
Deutsche Bundespost via Wikimedia Commons

One of the biggest draws for smaller European teams playing in the Nations League, other than the fact they will play more equal opposition, is the ability for some teams to earn Euro and World Cup qualifying spots.

For the 2020 Euros 20 of the 24 spots were determined through the main qualification process. The remaining 4 places became available through a Nations League play-off.

There are play-offs for each league A-D, each group winner automatically gains a spot, if those teams have already qualified for the Euros through the main path then that place will be given to the next ranked team, and so on. If less than four teams in a league remain unqualified then the play-off spots drop to the next league. This could most likely happen for League A, with extra places dropping to League B.

Once 16 unqualified teams have been selected into four groups there will then be a play-off the following spring. Each group winner will gain one of the four remaining European Championship spots.

In 2020 Scotland, North Macedonia, Slovakia and Hungary qualified via this route.

A similar process will be in place for European qualification to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. This time only 2 extra spots are available, however. The two best Nations League teams that have not already qualified as part of the 10 group winners in the world cup qualification groups or finished runner-up will join the 10 world cup group runners up in a play-off.

The 12 teams in the play-off will be divided into three groups of 4 with two knock-out rounds (semi-final and final), the three winners will then go to the World Cup.

Previous Winners

YearHostFinal ResultStadium
2022-23?v?TBD
2020-21IaltyFrancevSapin2-1San Siro
2018-19PortugalPortugalvSwitzerland1-0Estádio do Dragão

KEY: AET - After Extra Time, PS - Penalty Shoot Out

Home Nation Results

Finals

CountryAppsGamesWinsDrawsLosesHighestGoals FGoals AHosted
England121013rd Place130
Wales---------
Scotland---------
N. Ireland---------

League Phase

CountryGamesWinsDrawsLosesFAGroup WinsRelegatedHighest League
England1052313910A
Wales1071213610A
Scotland1061315810B
N. Ireland1002861801B

UEFA Nations League Stats

Tournament Stats
First Year 2018-19
Number of Teams 55
Number of Finalists 4
Number of Leagues 4 (A, B, C & D)
Number of Groups 14 (4 league A-C, 2 league D)
Most Goals 376 (2020/21)
Least Goals 342 (2018/19)
Highest Goals / Game2.41 (2018/19)
Base Fee League A Team€2,250,000
Base Fee League B Team€1,500,000
Base Fee League C Team€1,125,000
Base Fee League D Team€750,000
Prize Money League A Group Winner €2,250,000
Prize Money League B Group Winner €1,500,000
Prize Money League C Group Winner €1,125,000
Prize Money League D Group Winner €750,000
Prize Money Finals 4th Place €2,500,000
Prize Money Finals 3rd Place €3,500,000
Prize Money Finals Runner-Up €4,500,000
Prize Money Finals Winner €6,000,000
Team / Country Stats
Most Final Wins1 (Portugal & France)
Most Final Appearances 1 (Multiple)
Consecutive Winners TBD
Most League A Wins 1 (Portugal & France)
Most League B Wins 1 (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wales)
Most League C Wins 1 (Scotland, Slovenia)
Most League D Wins 1 (Georgia, Gibraltar)
Player Stats
Top Scorer (Single Tournament) Aleksandar Mitrovic (6 - Serbia 2018), Erling Haaland (6 - Norway 2020)
Top Scorer (League Phase) Aleksandar Mitrovic (6 - Serbia 2018), Erling Haaland (6 - Norway 2020)
Top Scorer (Final Phase) Christiano Ronaldo (3 - Portugal 2019)
Top Scorer (All Time) Romelu Lukaku (10 - Belgium)
Most Medals 1 (Multiple)
Most Appearances 12 (Multiple)

About the UEFA Nations League

How It Got Started

nations league banner on the sidelines

The first real murmurs about the idea of a UEFA Nations League came about in 2013 when the President of the Norwegian Football Association, Yngve Hallén, confirmed that talks had been ongoing.

He stressed that it was only at the design stage of proceedings at that point, with subsequent information revealing that conversations actually began as long ago as 2011 during the UEFA Strategy Meeting that took place in Cyprus.

More conversations took place over the following years, with the organisation eventually adopting the new tournament at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress that was held in Astana on the 27th of March 2014.

What People Have Said About It

nations league footballs with logosAfter the tournament was officially adopted by UEFA in unanimous fashion, the General Secretary of the organisation, Gianni Infantino, said that he hoped that it would allow smaller, less glamorous nations to play games against those that are considering amongst the biggest and best in world football. Greg Dyke, the Chairman of the Football Association at the time, agreed, declaring that it was a ‘very attractive’ way of organising international football.

The General Secretary of the Royal Belgian Football Association, Steven Martens, was thinking about the money, declaring that even the smallest of sides would benefit as the television money would be centralised. Most supporters, meanwhile, didn’t realise anything had changed.

The Trophy

nations league trophy abstractThe UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, revealed the design of the competition’s trophy to the world’s press ahead of the draw for the 2018-2019 tournament. It was inspired by the logo for the event itself, which is the first time that’s happened in a UEFA tournament.

It features a flag, representing the fifty-five nations that will compete, wrapped around a flag pole. The entire thing is made of sterling silver, with the interesting touch of competition’s colours being found on the inside of the design. Those colours can then be seen reflected off the silver as the trophy is moved around.

The trophy was designed by a creative design agency called Young & Rubicam, of whom Hélder Pombinho is the Creative Director. It weight seven and a half kilograms and stands at seventy-one centimetres tall, with the aim being that the winning captain of the tournament’s victorious side will lift it aloft as though hosting up the flags of all nations to the pinnacle of the sport. Essentially, exactly the sort of nonsense that you’d expect from a creative design agency.

The Anthem

Belarus v San Marino UEFA Nations League 2018
Belarus v San Marino UEFA Nations League 2018 - Homoatrox [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

UEFA never miss out on an opportunity to come up with some music if they get the chance, so of course the UEFA Nations League is no exception. It’s a bespoke composition that was recorded by a philharmonic orchestra, complete with a Latin singing choir.

It’s not all fuddy-duddy and old-fashioned, however. The more classical aspect of the tune are mixed in with electronic music to create either something contemporary and fresh, or else something that no one will enjoy listening to at any point. It will be used on television adverts for the tournament, when players enter the field of play and during trophy ceremonies.

When Does It Take Place

Allianz Arena Illuminated During the UEFA Nations league 2018-19 Group stage. Germany vs France
Allianz Arena Illuminated During the UEFA Nations league 2018-19 Group stage. Germany vs France - CN glitches [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Pool Stage of the tournament, also known as the Group Stage, will be played from September to November in even years. That means that the group games will come hot on the heels of both major international tournaments, beginning not long after the domestic league seasons have got back underway.

The Nations League Finals of League A, meanwhile, will take place in June of odd-numbered years, resulting in a UEFA Nations League champion being crowned every two years in between the World Cup and European Championships. Well that is the plan anyway, although in 2020 the suspension of the Euros to 2021 due to corona virus pushed the Nations League finals back to October.