Concacaf, soccer’s governing body across North and Central America and the Caribbean, has renamed and rebranded its flagship men’s club competition as the Champions Cup.
As part of a new men’s club competitions structure, the Champions Cup will replace the existing Champions League in 2024 and expand to 27 clubs.
The continental tournament was originally known as the Champions Cup between 1962 and 2008 before it was renamed the Champions League.
Concacaf president Victor Montagliani said: “The Concacaf Champions Cup will take continental club football in our region to the next level.
“It will elevate leagues and clubs across Concacaf and the new name for the competition, alongside this vibrant new brand, allows us to celebrate our rich history while looking ahead to a great future of international club football in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
“The new Concacaf club ecosystem will deliver more of those big rivalry matchups that we know footballers want to play in and that fans want to see. Clubs across the region will have to be at their very best to compete to win the Concacaf Champions Cup and to earn the right to represent the region in the revamped and expanded FIFA Club World Cup which begins in 2025.”
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The expanded new format will feature more participating clubs from Central America, the Caribbean, and North America. The new structure also includes three Concacaf-sanctioned regional cup competitions.
These include a new Concacaf Caribbean Cup, Concacaf Central American Cup, and the expanded Leagues Cup in North America between MLS (US) and Liga MX (Mexico) clubs that will crown champions from the respective regions. All three regional cups will have direct qualification berths into the new Champions Cup.
The top clubs in North America will continue to have the opportunity to qualify through domestic leagues (Liga MX, MLS, Canadian Premier League) and cup competitions (US Open Cup, Canadian Championship).
As well as the expansion and rebrand, Concacaf will increase the financial distributions and prize money for participating clubs in the Champions Cup.
The winners will receive more than $5 million, an increase of more than five times compared with the current Champions League.
The Champions Cup will continue to be played in a direct elimination knockout stage format and will be composed of five rounds: round one, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final.
The first four stages will each include two-legged home and away matches, while the final will be played as a single-leg match.
Of the 27 clubs that will participate, 22 will begin play in round one, while five will receive a bye to the round of 16. The qualification process for the clubs will be divided per region.
Concacaf general secretary, Philippe Moggio, said: “We are incredibly excited about this new ecosystem and for the first edition of the new and expanded Concacaf Champions Cup next year.
“In considering options for the name of the tournament we conducted significant research among our stakeholders, including with fans. Maintaining the word 'Champions' was crucial for us to highlight that this tournament is at the top of the club pyramid in Concacaf, and we also feel that moving away from 'Champions League' allows us to develop a unique identity for our club competition.
“In returning to the original tournament name, we will have the opportunity to truly connect the last 61 years of continental club football in Concacaf with what is coming in the future.”
In April, Concacaf announced it will also launch a new women’s club competition in 2024.