CONCACAF appears to be adding a new tournament for North American, Central American, and Caribbean countries.
Reuters reports that the competition will be called the Nations League and will feature all 41 member countries of the confederation.
The tournament, slated to begin in September 2018, will see those nations split into three divisions, based on their “sporting level” with promotion and relegation to occur. The tournament will also serve as a qualifying route to the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, which takes place every two years and is next to occur in 2019.
“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,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani told Reuters. “The biggest difference between our Nations League and the UEFA, is that their nations were already playing a significant amount of games… But for us it was to allow our countries to play a minimum amount of games over a four year window,” he added.
The format is very similar to UEFA’s Nations League in Europe which will also begin next year, but Montagliani believes it will address the problem facing the region’s smaller, often Caribbean island nations who have found it hard to get regular competitive action.
“Our bigger countries have the capacity to do that but the way our system was, in my opinion was archaic and you had countries who were playing four to six games in a four year period. It is kind of hard then to develop football in any capacity,” he said.
Montagliani stated that the format of the tournament will be finalized in more detail by February 2018.
“I said when I was elected that it is time for this confederation to be about football. We have been looking at all our competitions and this is the continuation of our philosophy that football is first. This confederation needs to show that – and we have.”
UPDATE: CONCACAF confirmed the news in a press release on Thursday. “The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced today its Council’s approval of the CONCACAF League of Nations,” it reads, “a new national team competition platform designed to maximize the quality, quantity and frequency of competitive matches for all 41 CONCACAF member associations. The announcement comes following a year-long development and consultation process involving the Member Associations and key stakeholders.
“The new CONCACAF League of Nations will be based on a league structure. All 41 CONCACAF Member Associations will be included, divided in three different leagues, based on their sporting level, with a champion to be crowned at the end of each edition. To seed Member Associations into their respective leagues, the League of Nations will begin with a preliminary series of matches played across four different dates beginning in September 2018.”