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South American countries set to join UEFA Nations League

UEFA's vice-president, Zbigniew Boniek, has told an interview in Poland that the Nations League is set to be expanded to include CONMEBOL's 10 teams.

Update:
TOPSHOT - Argentina's Lionel Messi holds the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament final match against Brazil at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 10, 2021. - Argentina won 1-0. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP)
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South American countries are set to join Europe’s Nations League tournament, UEFA vice-president Zbigniew Boniek has revealed in an interview in the Polish media.

CONMEBOL teams to be added to Nations League in 2024, Boniek says

"This is the last UEFA Nations League in this format,” Boniek told an interview with Meczyki (English quotes via ESPN). “We had a meeting with CONMEBOL, the confederation of South American countries. From 2024, teams from this continent will join the competition.”

First played in 2018/19, the tournament currently involves the 55 nations that are members of European football’s governing body. Portugal were its opening winners, before being succeeded as champions by France in 2020/21.

The 2022/23 Nations League - whose league-phase draw was held in Nyon on Thursday - is due to get underway in June 2022.

South American countries would join top two leagues

According to Boniek, the six best-ranked South American countries would join League A, the highest of the four divisions in the Nations League, while the remaining four CONMEBOL sides would go into League B, the second tier.

Leagues A and B would be expanded from 16 teams to 22 and 20, respectively, the former Poland international and Polish Football Association president added. Per ESPN’s Dale Johnson, all matches would be played in Europe.

A combined European and South American international tournament would represent significant competition to FIFA’s plans for a biennial World Cup - which UEFA and CONMEBOL both oppose - not least in terms of the scheduling demands it would place on the football calendar.

UEFA, CONMEBOL extend and expand cooperation agreement

News of the Nations League’s potential expansion follows UEFA and CONMEBOL’s announcement on Wednesday that a memorandum of understanding between the bodies has been extended until 2028, with its scope increased.

As part of the expanded MoU, the winners of Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa América, Italy and Argentina, are to face off in a Europe vs South America clash, known as the ‘Finalissima’, in London in June 2022.

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