New CONCACAF-CONMEBOL agreement gives Canada games against top-tier opposition
Canada is getting its wish to play more top-tier competition ahead of the 2026 FIFA men's World Cup.
CONCACAF, the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean, and South America's CONMEBOL have signed an agreement to "strengthen and develop" soccer in both regions. The deal includes men's and women's national team competitions and a new men's club tournament.
The U.S. will host Copa America, the South American championship, in the summer of 2024 with 10 CONMEBOL teams plus the six best CONCACAF teams as guests.
The six CONCACAF entries will be decided via the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League.
On the women's side, CONCACAF has invited the top four CONMEBOL teams to take part in the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup. The 12-team tournament will be played in the U.S.
The two CONCACAF teams qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics (the U.S. and either Canada or Jamaica) will qualify directly for the CONCACAF W Gold Cup. The remaining six CONCACAF entries will have to qualify,
The four guest CONMEBOL countries have been determined on the results of the 2022 Women’s Copa America: Brazil (champion) Colombia (runner-up), Argentina (third place) and Paraguay (fourth place).
The two confederations will also organize a centralized "final four" club competition. The four participating teams (two from each confederation) will qualify through existing CONMEBOL and CONCACAF club competitions with the first edition of this tournament slated for 2024.
“This is a partnership to support the ongoing growth of men’s and women’s football in Concacaf and CONMEBOL, and will truly be of mutual benefit to both confederations," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, a former Canada Soccer president, said in a statement.
Canada, which ended a 36-year absence from the men's soccer showcase when it took part at the recent World Cup in Qatar is co-hosting the 2026 men's World Cup with Mexico and the U.S.
Canada coach John Herdman has made playing Tier 1 opposition a priority ahead of the 2206 tournament. The Canadian men have played CONCACAF competition almost exclusively in recent years.
Canada was ranked 41st in the world going into the Qatar World Cup, fourth in CONCACAF.
UEFA (Europe), in contrast, had 21 teams in the top 40 while CONMEBOL had six.
The Canadian men, currently ranked 51st, play next in March, with CONCACAF Nations League matches at No. 86 Curacao on March 23 and home to No. 81 Honduras on March 28.
The Canadian women are taking part in the four-team SheBelieves Cup next month in Orlando.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press