Wade: Nations League is great for Bermuda
Mark Wade, president of the Bermuda Football Association, believes that the Concacaf Nations League, which is set to start next autumn, will bring a tremendous boost to the game in the region.
Wade, who returned from a presidents' meeting in Miami this week, is excited about the plans for the league announced yesterday by Concacaf's governing council, with member associations having been in discussions since last year.
Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president, said the format for the league, involving 41 countries, will be finalised in February and that the confederation will ensure that all countries have the resources to participate in the competition.
“I don't want to pre-empt the final announcement in February, but the 41 teams will be split as evenly as possible into the three divisions,” Wade, who replaced Larry Mussenden as president in September 2016, told The Royal Gazette yesterday.
The structure of the league will involve home and away matches and will give smaller countries such as Bermuda greater international exposure.
“We've been discussing the Nations League at the presidents' level for about a year now and we've been talking about different formats,” Wade said. “The announcement [on Thursday] is a culmination of all of those discussions where we finally have a structure that we think can work.
“We've had regular updates along the way at different congresses. I just returned yesterday from a presidents' meeting in Miami where we got the final announcement before the press release.”
Wade added: “There will be a tournament in 2018 that will help to determine where you sit in the league initially. The tournament will be in the three [international] windows in September, October and November, and that will help to determine where you get placed in the league.
“At one point we were discussing just using the Fifa rankings, but the technical team thought it would be better for teams to play for positions in the league in the initial set-up.”
The BFA president believes the tournament will be a great shot in the arm for Bermuda football, with players set to be involved in more international matches.
“It's exciting,” Wade said. “It is very difficult to get matches for our senior men's team, and this helps tremendously. Now we'll get a regular diet of matches.
“There will be financial assistance for every country in order to meet the commitments.”
Wade admits that the BFA competitions committee could face challenges with the domestic schedule as players from the top clubs will be involved in more international matches. However, more regular international competition could also be a benefit for tourism.
“It's exciting on a number of fronts, because we know we'll have a regular diet of international matches at the senior men's level,” Wade said. “It now gives us the opportunity to promote a known product as we know we're going to have matches in [three months] of every year.
“From a marketing perspective, that is going to help us tremendously. Up to now we were not sure when our international matches were going to be, where and against whom, but this will help us quite a bit.
“Now our players have something to look forward to on a regular basis.
“It will be challenging for us to adjust our league structure, our competitions committee is going to have to look into whether or not the Nations League fits into the current structure or whether we have to alter our league structure.
“Our league starts in September and that's going to be a challenge as well. The Nations League is a reality, now that we have confirmation that it is coming in 2018. We've got some work to do.”
The Nations League will be fashioned after Uefa's Nations League and is the brainchild of Montagliani, who was on the island in April as a special guest at the BFA awards ceremony, which also celebrated the association's 50th year as a member of Concacaf.
“Rather than regionalise things within the Caribbean or Central America, we want to have all of Concacaf players under one competition,” Montagliani told The Royal Gazette at the time. “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.”