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Mar 28, 2014

Loew, Klopp upset by Nations League

European football has taken the brave step to drop international friendlies in favour of a bi-annual promotion-relegation tournament.

Germany coach Joachim Loew and Borussia Dortmund’s Juergen Klopp have expressed concerns about UEFA’s plans to introduce the “Nations League” tournament from 2018.

UEFA members voted to approve the format, which will replace most international friendlies, on Thursday.

While the new format has yet to be finalised, UEFA has already outlined the main idea on its official website, saying: “The concept is for the 54 national teams to be divided into four large divisions according to coefficient rankings.

“Prior to Euro 2020, each division will be sub-divided into four pools of three or four teams, each team plays four to six matches between September and November 2018. The final-four competition, involving the four pool group-winners of group A, will start in 2019, whereas playoffs for the UEFA Euro will then take place in March 2020.”

However, Loew has been quick to claim that this format will have a big influence on German football’s ability to compete with nations outside Europe and develop a rounded game ahead of tournaments such as the World Cup.

He is quoted by kicker as saying: “We want to continue to compete with the big nations outside of Europe. To find the dates and the options for that will not get easier.

“We would love to play against the big nations in world football all the time, also outside of the European Championships and the World Cup. That’s the only way to improve ourselves further.”

Meanwhile, Dortmund coach Klopp said that there should have been more consultation with players and coaches before a final decision was taken on the matter.

He said: “Nobody asked players or coaches. I did not exactly celebrate when I heard the news.”

However, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is also chairman of the European Club Association, spoke out in defence of the changes, telling German wire dpa:  “We are not against the Nations Cup.

“We understand that the smaller and middle nations are not able to market their international friendlies anymore. Now it is important to develop a format that whets the networks’, the fans’ and the sponsors’ appetite.”

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