League of Nations launch 'a watershed' for Concacaf
Concacaf, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, has unveiled the Concacaf League of Nations, a competition intended to offer more meaningful matches for national teams across the region.
The confederation announced yesterday that its council had approved the concept under which the 41 member teams will be split into three leagues based on merit, with each team playing a series of home and away matches and a champion crowned, and promotion and relegation decided, at the end of each edition.
Concacaf president Victor Montagliani described it as "a watershed moment" for his organisation.
The League of Nations will serve as a qualifying process for the Concacaf Gold Cup, the biennial national teams competition customarily held in USA, and provide the basis for a Concacaf ranking system that will be used as a basis for further World Cup qualifying seeding.
The action will get under way in September 2018 with a series of preliminary matches to seed the teams into the respective leagues. Further details on the schedule, format and brand will be announced early next year.
The matches will largely take the place of friendly games which no longer command the attention of fans and broadcasters, and offer teams competitive outings in addition to World Cup and Gold Cup fixtures, which rarely involve the smaller federations.
In this way, Concacaf is following the example of Uefa, which is launching a Nations League in September 2018, with its 55 members split into four leagues.
Montagliani said on Thursday: “This is a watershed moment for Concacaf. By focusing on football to provide all our teams with year-round quality competition, the League of Nations platform means everyone wins. This new tournament is highly beneficial to all our Member Associations and fans everywhere, since it provides significant opportunities to play important competitive matches with increased regularity throughout the year.”
Uefa is leading a proposal to globalise the Nations League so that it involves all 223 members of Fifa’s six continental confederations and would take place every two years, in odd-numbered years.
It is envisaged that each confederation would run its own qualifying groups, with winners advancing to eight-team intercontinental tournaments in each of seven divisions played in June.
The first tournaments – each in a knockout bracket and hosted over one week in a different country – could be played in 2021.
Under the competition format being discussed, the top division final tournaments would include three teams from Europe, two from South America, plus one each from Africa, Asia and the Concacaf region.