CONCACAF is the abbreviation for the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football. Yes, that is a long-winded abbreviation!
CONCACAF is one of the six continental governing bodies for soccer recognized by FIFA. The organization is responsible for overseeing soccer in the American region, including organizing tournaments and competitions, ensuring compliance with rules and regulations, and promoting the sport.
You may have seen CONCACAF events like the Gold Cup or the National League, but this article will help you understand what it’s all about it. Let’s dive in 🏊♂️
History of CONCACAF
CONCACAF was formed in 1961 after the merger of two soccer/football confederations, the Football Confederation of Central America and the Caribbean (CCCF) and the North American Football Confederation (NAFC).
The CCCF was founded in 1938, while the NAFC was established in 1946. The merger resulted in a confederation that covered North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The founding members of CONCACAF included:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Netherlands Antilles
- United States
Major CONCACAF Soccer Events
CONCACAF has hosted several major events since its inception. The most significant of these events is the Gold Cup, which was first held in 1963. The Gold Cup is the confederation’s premier national team competition, featuring teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Another significant event is the Champions Cup, which is the confederation’s premier club competition.
CONCACAF has also hosted several FIFA World Cup tournaments. The 1970 World Cup was held in Mexico, while the 1986 World Cup was also held in Mexico. The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup, which was the first time the tournament was held in North America.
In addition to these events, the organization hosts several youth tournaments, including the CONCACAF Championships for U20, U17, and U15.
At the time of this article, August 8, 2023, the USYNT U15 team is in the middle of their tournament and they are playing really well. I’ve watched several of the games and they are playing to attack.
Structure of CONCACAF
CONCACAF is comprised of 41 member associations, each representing a country or territory in the region. These member associations are responsible for organizing and promoting soccer within their respective jurisdictions.
The leadership is vested in the CONCACAF Council, which is the governing body of the organization. The Council is composed of up to 15 members, including the president, three vice-presidents, three member association members, up to three independent members, and four CONCACAF representatives to the FIFA Council (including the female member to the FIFA Council).
The current 2023 Council is comprised of:
- President: Victor Montagliani (Canada)
- General Secretary: Philippe Moggio (France)
- Vice President – Caribbean: Randolph Harris (Barbados)
- Vice President – North America: Nick Bontis (Canada)
- Vice President – Central America: Jorge Salomon (Honduras)
- Member – Female: Sonia Fulford (Turks and Caicos Islands)
- Member – North America: Cindy Parlow Cone (USA)
- Member – Central America: Sergio Chuc (Belize)
The president is elected by the Council and serves a four-year term. The president is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization and implementing the policies and decisions of the Council.
Competitions Organized by CONCACAF
CONCACAF Gold Cup
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is a biennial tournament that features national teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The tournament was first played in 1991 and has since become one of the most prestigious competitions in the region. The most successful team in the history of the tournament is Mexico, with 9 titles, followed by the United States with 7 titles.
The tournament has gone through several format changes over the years, but the current format features 16 teams divided into four groups of four. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage, which culminates in a final to determine the champion.
CONCACAF Champions Cup
Formerly known as the Champions League, the Champions Cup is an annual tournament that features clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The most successful team in the history of the tournament is América, with seven titles, followed by Cruz Azu with six titles.
The tournament currently is a knockout format where each game is pivotal. It’s important to note that the Champions Cup winner DOES NOT automatically qualify for the following season’s competition.
Role in Global Soccer
As one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football, CONCACAF plays a crucial role in global soccer.
CONCACAF’s affiliation with FIFA ensures that the organization adheres to statutes and regulations, including the promotion of fair play, respect, and integrity in soccer.
World Cup Qualification
One of CONCACAF’s most significant roles in global soccer is organizing and coordinating World Cup qualification for the region.
The organization’s World Cup qualification process is highly competitive and involves several rounds of matches, with the top teams from each round advancing to the next stage.
The final round of the World Cup qualification involves the top six teams from the region competing in a round-robin format. The top three teams from this round qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the fourth-placed team advances to an intercontinental playoff against a team from another region.
CONCACAF’s World Cup qualification process is highly competitive, and the organization’s teams have had significant success on the world stage.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico are gearing up to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, putting soccer in North America back on the world stage!
CONCACAF Women’s Program
CONCACAF Women’s is the regional governing body for women’s soccer in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The organization is responsible for organizing and promoting women’s soccer in the region, as well as representing the interests of its member associations on the international stage.
On the women’s side, national competitions include:
- CONCACAF W Gold Cup
- Women’s Championship
- Women’s Olympic Qualifying
- U20, U17, and U15 events
One of the main goals of CONCACAF Women’s is to increase participation in women’s soccer throughout the member countries. To this end, the organization has launched a number of initiatives aimed at promoting the sport, including the Women’s Football Day program, which encourages girls and women to get involved in the sport.
Another key focus for CONCACAF Women’s is to improve the quality of play in the region. To achieve this goal, the organization has implemented a number of measures aimed at improving coaching and player development, as well as raising the profile of women’s soccer in the region.
Frequently Asked Questions
CONCACAF stands for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football. It is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football, and it is responsible for organizing and managing football competitions in the region.
CONCACAF includes 41 member associations across three regions: North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
FIFA is the international governing body for football, while CONCACAF is a regional governing body that is responsible for managing soccer competitions in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. FIFA sets the rules and regulations for football worldwide, while CONCACAF is responsible for enforcing those rules within its region.
The CONCACAF Champions League is an annual soccer club competition organized by CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The tournament is contested by the top club teams from the region, including teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.