The European governing body has unveiled the qualification setup for the tournament, with the new Nations League providing an extra avenue into the finals
Uefa’s Executive Committee has confirmed the format for the qualifying stage of Euro 2021, with the new Uefa Nations League named as one of the avenues for progression to the finals.
The 54 European nations will be split into four groups of six teams and six of five, with the winners and runners-up from all 10 groups earning a place in the continent-wide special edition of the tournament in 2020.
Such a format means no third-placed teams will qualify – a significant change from the ongoing European qualifiers for the 2016 finals in France. Instead, the final four places will go to teams qualifying from a series of Nations League play-offs held in March 2020, just three months before the finals are due to be played.
Teams will play six matches in one of four leagues between September and November 2018 as part of the initial group phase of the Nations League. Within each league, four teams will then play off for the last four spots at Euro 2021.
The 2020 finals tournament will take place in 13 different countries around Europe, with the semi-finals and final to be played at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The Uefa ExCo has also announced that Russia will be banned from incorporating Crimean clubs or using Crimean territory to host fixtures as of January 1, 2015.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) made moves in July to incorporate three Crimean clubs – TSK Simferopol, SK ChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta – into its football despite them being part of the Ukrainian football league setup.
But Uefa has now confirmed that Crimea will be considered a ‘special zone’ for the purposes of football, protecting it from RFU advances.
A statement explained: “Under the supervision of Uefa ExCo member, Mr Frantisek Laurinec, Uefa will also fund the development of football in Crimea, especially for youth and football infrastructure initiatives, with the precise funding to be determined at a future Uefa ExCo meeting.
“This solution brings the situation in line with the statutes of both Uefa and Fifa and aims at ensuring that football can be played and developed in Crimea.”