Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2014 01:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Europe to get new League of Nations

UEFA will on Thursday approve a new "League of Nations" tournament for European countries alongside the World Cup and European Championship, officials said.


Europe to get new League of Nations

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference on the eve of the qualifying draw of the 2016 European Football Championship on February 22, 2014 in Nice, southeatern France - by Valery Hache

The 54 UEFA members are also expected to back tougher sanctions for match-fixing at their annual congress.

The new tournament, to start in 2018, would replace friendly matches played in years when there is no qualifying for the World Cup or the European Championship.

Gianni Infantino, UEFA's secretary general, told reporters in Astana on Wednesday that the League of Nations was certain to be passed.

"We need to make better use as there are team that everyone wants to play in a friendly and others who can never get an opponent, which is where this idea for a League of Nations comes from," Infantino said.

The tournament is part of a general review of the football calendar.

"We have been looking at optimising the structure of the calendar without bringing in any more dates," said Infantino.

The tournament could set up divisions with promotion and relegation based on results, according to football officials.

Rewards such as a wild card entry into the European Championships could be offered to teams who win a lower division, according to media reports quoting UEFA officials.

More details are expected to be given by UEFA president Michel Platini on Thursday.

UEFA's leadership is also pressing for strong support for a resolution ordering tougher punishment for match-fixing.

UEFA wants individual countries to make 'sports fraud' a crime and the possibility to order life bans against players and officials with no time limitation on when action can be taken.

"Police often say that they have more pressing matters, but if it was a crime this would be different," Infantino said.

UEFA also needs to have the power to "investigate at any moment," the secretary general added.

Infantino said that only 0.7% of the 32,000 matches monitored by UEFA each year set off an alert, and even that does not automatically mean there is match-fixing.

"That is still 0.7 too many," he said, adding that UEFA did not believe there was match-fixing at the top level of any major league.

Infantino said there had to be an "education" element to the campaign, encouraging players, referees and officials who are approached to tell the police about match fixing.

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