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Concacaf announces major boost for women’s football

Deshae Darrell, the Bermuda Under-20 striker, seen in action against Curacao in 2017. Women's football in the region has received a tremendous boost with the announcement of Concacaf national senior team competitions starting next year. (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Women’s football in the Concacaf region has received a tremendous boost with the news that an international competition will begin late next year with summer tournaments in 2022 and 2024.

The plans were announced yesterday after the structure of the new competition was approved by the Concacaf Council, “with the aim of transforming women’s national team football across the entire confederation”, according to a statement.

“The new calendar prioritises providing more official match dates for all Concacaf region women’s senior national teams and ensuring there is elite competition to showcase the highest level of women’s international football.

“Through this new calendar, Concacaf will more than double the number of official senior women’s national team matches compared with the current cycle of competitions.“

The major development for the women’s game follows the launch in June 2019 of Concacaf W, the confederation’s women’s football strategy, which focused on working with Concacaf member associations to grow all aspects of women’s football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The format for the women’s competition in 2021-22 calls for group-stage matches to be played during the Fifa international windows of November 2021 and April 2022:

• Concacaf national teams ranked third and below in the Fifa rankings to be drawn into six groups of five teams

• Each team will play a total of four matches — two home and two away

• At the end of the group stage, the six group winners will qualify for a centralised finals event

• The top two Concacaf nations in the Fifa rankings from August 2020 — United States and Canada — will receive a bye straight to the eight-team finals

• Should more than 30 Concacaf member associations participate in the competition, a “play-in” would be organised before the group stage

For the finals in July 2022, the eight nations will be split into two groups of four.

After single round-robin play, the two group winners will qualify for the knockout rounds. The final event will qualify teams for the Women’s World Cup, scheduled for Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

A Concacaf national team competition will take place in 2023-24, called the Women’s Concacaf Nations League. It will see teams split into groups within three leagues, with home and away matches played within the league groups.

The three top league group winners will qualify directly for the finals in the summer of 2024 while the second league group winners and runners-up from the top league will have an opportunity to compete in a play-off to qualify for the finals.

The women’s national teams that compete in the 2024 Olympic Games will not compete in the group stage and will receive a bye directly to the finals.

The qualification of Concacaf women’s national teams to the 2024 Olympics will be structured through the new calendar of competitions. Further information on how Olympic qualification will be determined will be communicated in due course, Concacaf said.

“This is a milestone moment for our Concacaf W strategy, and I am hugely excited by the prospect of launching these new Concacaf women’s national team competitions,” said Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president and vice-president of Fifa.

“I strongly believe they will provide a development pathway for all of our member associations, while at the same time creating strong and competitive finals events to showcase the very best of women’s national team football in our region.”

Mark Wade, the Bermuda Football Association president, was involved in the Concacaf meetings this week via Zoom, but could not be reached last night for comment on the exciting developments for football in the region.

Montagliani added: “These new competitions will help us further harness the growth in women’s football that we have seen in this region as a result of the last two Fifa Women’s World Cups. I am confident they will have a very positive impact on the women’s game at all levels in Concacaf.”

Karina LeBlanc, the Concacaf Head of Women’s Football, describes it as exciting news for the women’s game. “As a former international player who is now on the administration side driving forward the Concacaf W strategy, I am truly excited by this development for women’s football in the region,” she said.

“These new competitions will be transformative for the confederation by providing a consistent structure of matches for all member associations. They will accelerate the growth of the women’s game in Concacaf.”

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Published December 11, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 10, 2020 at 10:30 pm)

Concacaf announces major boost for women’s football

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