A new tournament has been added to the women's football calendar starting this season: the Women's Nations League. This tournament was first introduced in men's football in 2018 and has now become a part of the women's game.
So, what is the Nations League? What is its purpose? And how does it benefit women's football and players' personal brands? Keep reading, and you will find out!
What is the Women's Nations League?
The Women's Nations League is a new international tournament through which teams can qualify for the Women's EURO's, the Women's World Cup and the Olympic tournament. It is a biennial competition contested by women's national teams of UEFA.
How does the Nations League work?
The Nations League consists of two phases: the league phase and the champions phase. All 41 participating teams are divided into three leagues (A, B, and C) based on their coefficient rankings. Teams with the highest rankings play in League A, followed by League B, and the teams with the lowest rankings compete in League C.
In each league, the teams are drawn into groups of four (and one group of 3 in league C). The teams play each other home and away and at the end of these matches, the final table determines which teams will promote and relegate to other league.
The winner of the Women's Nations League is decided among the four group winners in league A. They face each other in semifinals and, eventually, the final. The two finalists become Europe's representatives at the Olympics.
The purpose of the Women's Nations League
National associations and coaches were dissatisfied with the perceived lack of sporting competition provided by friendly international games. The concept behind the Nations League is to diminish the number of meaningless international friendlies and enhance competitive balance across national team football.
Under the current format, nations play against equally-ranked teams, adding more competitiveness to the games. Lower-ranking teams that have struggled against higher-ranked opponents now have the opportunity to participate in more evenly matched contests. This not only helps teams engage in more captivating matches, improving the overall quality of football, and offering all teams a fair chance to compete at the international level, but it also makes the games more enjoyable for fans to watch.
How the Nationals League benefits women's football and personal athlete brands
Creating a competition that offers more competitive games, brings numerous benefits contributing to the advancement and empowerment of women in football.
Opportunities for team development The higher level of competition fosters an environment of continuous improvement. Encountering teams with more or less the same level will push teams and individuals to enhance their skills and strategies. It also gives coaches the opportunity to try out different things.
Increased visibility and recognition One of the most prominent benefits of the Women's Nations League is the increased visibility and recognition it brings to women's football. The tournament provides a dedicated stage to female footballers to showcase their talents on an international level. The increased visibility will attract more attention from fans, sponsors and media - which will have a direct effect on a player's personal brand.
Inspiring the next generation When a women's national team competes on international level, they serve as a powerful role model for aspiring young footballers. The visibility on global stages inspires the next generation of girls to pursue their dreams in football (or in any other field). Taking the responsibility to fill that role can be a way to connect with fans on a deeper level and to take a more interesting position towards potential sponsors.
Financial investment and sponsorship opportunities Once there is competition, games become more popular to watch. More fans will be interested in following their national women's team and they will be seen on an international stage. This creates opportunities for the teams and the individual players. With higher visibility comes a bigger audience to be reached for businesses. A perfect opportunity for them to invest in the women's game and the players.
After this week, all matches in the league phase will be played and we will know which teams will play against each other in the semifinals in February.