New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. Sport
12 September 2018

Leader: How Uefa’s complex new Nations League baffles fans and players alike

More than a game, Harry. 

By New Statesman

After a radiant summer, Gareth Southgate’s young England side have returned to reality. If a 2-1 defeat to Spain at Wembley did not sap their spirit, the Byzantine complexity of Uefa’s Nations League might. The format of the new competition has baffled Mr Southgate’s players and bewildered fans. “It is quite confusing,” conceded Harry Maguire, England’s ball-carrying centre-half. “The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could the other day. I think he has got his head around it now, but it took a lot of studying.”

This is not an example of the self-deprecation that so endeared the England team to many of us during the World Cup. The format of the Nations League is algorithmic and, in truth, nearly impossible to understand. There could be no more damning testimony for the prosecution than the fact that even Mr Maguire, who plays with poise and certainty, and Mr Southgate, conscientious and cerebral, are none the wiser. But perhaps we should stop trying to understand Uefa’s new competition and simply enjoy the football instead. Mr Maguire, one of the stars of the World Cup campaign in Russia, put it well: “Just try to win every game.”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change

This article appears in the 12 Sep 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The return of fascism