CONCACAF revealed Wednesday the details and structure of its new Nations League, a completely new competition formed over the last two years to represent “a new era of national team football for Concacaf Member Associations.”
The CONCACAF Nations League (CNL) will begin with a one-off qualifying phase this September, while the group phase, consisting of three tiered leagues – A, B, and C – will kickoff in September 2019.
The nations that played during the latest CONCACAF Hexagonal – Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, and Honduras – have automatically qualified to League A and the 2019 Gold Cup.
Considering the on-going suspension imposed by FIFA, Guatemala will not be able to participate in this edition. The remaining 34 nations will play the CNL qualifying phase, which will be used to rank the teams 1-34 and determine which teams will be assigned into the three leagues, as well as qualify to the newly expanded 2019 Gold Cup.
The top 10 teams of the qualifying phase will join the seeded teams in the 2019 Gold Cup, while only the top six nations will complete League A. The next 16 teams on the table will be assigned to League B, and the rest will be included in League C.
Teams will compete in a home-and-away format during the group phase, which will be structured as follows:
League A will consist of four groups of three teams. The winner of each group will qualify to the championship final round, which will determine the champion of the new competition, while the bottom team of each group will be relegated to League B for the next edition.
League B will contain four groups of four teams. The winner of each group will substitute the relegated teams from League A, and the bottom team of each group will be relegated to League C.
As for League C, it will consist of the remaining teams, which will be split up into four groups. The winner of each group will be promoted to League B.
The CNL qualifying phase will be played during the official FIFA match dates from September 2018 through March 2019. While the group phase and Championship Final will be played from September 2019 through March 2020. CNL will also serve as a qualifier for future editions of the Gold Cup.
According to CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, this new league will be an opportunity to increase the level of competition in the region.
“The Nations League assures that all our members will have the opportunity to play more and compete more, which in turn will propel greater development of the sport at every level,” said Montagliani.