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Bermuda set to gain from ‘League of Nations’

One vision: Montagliani, the special guest at the BFA awards ceremony at CedarBridge Academy at the weekend, hopes to boost the quality of the teams in the Concacaf region (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda football team could play up to 36 international matches over the course of a four-year cycle as part of Concacaf’s proposed “League of Nations”.

Concacaf hope to launch the competition for its 41-member associations by the end of the year, which would represent a seismic shift for Bermuda, who have historically struggled for games.

Bermuda have played just one international this year, a 4-2 defeat at home to Canada in January, although they have two friendlies away to Grenada scheduled for June.

The competition is the brainchild of Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president — who visited Bermuda last week — and is fashioned after Uefa’s Nations League, which is set to begin in 2018.

Montagliani believes that a League of Nations would boost the quality of the teams in the Concacaf region and said it will be a requirement for all nations to participate.

“The idea is to provide a more consistent opportunity of play for everyone and a better way to have competitions,” Montagliani told The Royal Gazette.

“Rather than regionalise things within the Caribbean or Central America, we want to have all of Concacaf play under one umbrella, one competition.

“You don’t have one competition in Eastern Europe and one in Western Europe, it’s just Europe, and we’re bringing the same mentality here.”

The format, Montagliani said, will have the member associations split into several leagues, according to their strength, with promotion and relegations at the end of the four-year cycle.

He added that the League of Nations rankings would then determine which teams qualify for the World Cup and Gold Cup. Although the competition will almost certainly mean fewer friendlies, Montagliani stressed that there would still be room in the international calendar for countries to arrange games should they wish.

“The format was passed by our competitions committee and we need to go a couple of more steps and then hopefully we’ll be in a position to unveil it by the end of the year,” Montagliani said. “It will give countries that may have a harder time getting friendlies more competitive matches. What we’re hoping is for a country like Bermuda to have in the 30 to 36 range over a four-year cycle.”

The League of Nations has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the member associations, Montagliani said, although the financial aspect of the idea is still to be finalised.

“It’s a long-term plan and if we can execute it we will,” Montagliani added. “It still has a little bit of a way to go. We still have to work out the commercial and business side of things.”

Montagliani was the special guest at the Bermuda Football Association awards ceremony at CedarBridge Academy on Saturday, which also celebrated the BFA’S 50th year as a member of Concacaf. The Canadian, who was elected as Concacaf president after defeating former BFA president Larry Mussenden 12 months ago, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of the island’s technical staff and its infrastructure.

“It’s been interesting to see what Mark Wade [the BFA president] and his team are trying to put together in terms of their vision for the association,” said Montagliani, Concacaf’s first non-Caribbean president since 1969.

“The Clyde Best Centre of Excellence looks like a great facility and I’ve been very impressed with the work that’s been done here. If the BFA can continue with their investment and commitment to the game then I think you will see some good things coming out of Bermuda.”