Sun | Dec 17, 2017

CONCACAF boss backs new regional tournament

Published:Friday | November 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani (right) greets Jamaican goalkeeper André Blake after the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 in the Gold Cup final in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday, July 26.

MIAMI, Florida (CMC):

CONCACAF is seeking to help resolve an issue that has plagued the development of the game in the region.

The governing body for the game in North America, Central America and the Caribbean will launch a new Nations League competition next September that will feature all 41 members.

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani said the format will be similar to the UEFA Nations League in Europe, and it will help to alleviate the challenge of regular competitive action, which many Caribbean nations face.

"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," Montagliani told the Reuters news agency.

"The biggest difference between our Nations League and the UEFA is that their nations were already playing a significant number of games ... . But for us, it is to allow our countries to play a minimum number of games over a four-year window.

"Our bigger countries have the capacity to do that, but our system was, in my opinion, 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."

The national teams taking part in the tournament are expected to be split into three divisions based on their "sporting level" with promotion and relegation. It will also serve as a qualifying route to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Montigliani said that the new tournament had already been warmly welcomed by presidents of national associations, many of whom have never featured in the FIFA World Cup Finals and struggled to organise and finance friendly matches.

They all agree, however, that there was serious need for matches in order to help their national teams progress, and CONCACAF will ensure that they all have the resources to feature in the competition.

Details of the tournament are to be rolled out in February, and Montigliani said it was refreshing to put the playing of the game back into focus, rather than the off-field shenanigans that saw the organisation heavily implicated in the corruption scandal that rocked the sport's world governing body, FIFA.