CONCACAF launches new W Championship, W Gold Cup to increase women's international matches

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CONCACAF launches new W Championship, W Gold Cup to increase women's international matches
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CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is expanding its women's championship tournament and unveiling a new W Gold Cup alongside its We Belong campaign to celebrate women and girls football, the organization announced on Thursday.

The CONCACAF W Championship will be played in 2022 and the CONCACAF W Gold Cup will be in 2024.

The two summer tournaments will provide almost double the number of international matches previously available, and thereby prioritizing elite competitions and continued growth of the game.  

“This is a seismic development for our women’s national team competitions and will transform the women’s game in Concacaf,” Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani said in a statement. “When we launched our Concacaf W strategy in 2019 we committed to providing more opportunities for all member associations. This new ecosystem wholeheartedly delivers on that and the inclusion of an inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup as a central part it is a truly exciting step in our journey to further elevate women’s football. 

"I can’t wait to see these matches and new competitions unfold on the pitch and hope they inspire future generations of women and girls to play and develop a passion for the game."

CONCACAF's W Qualifiers  

The W Championship will serve as qualifiers for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2024 W Gold Cup. 

It will begin in the FIFA Women's Match windows of November 2021 and April 2022 with the W qualifiers, considered the preliminary round of the 2022 W Championship, played next summer. 

The 30 CONCACAF teams ranked No. 3 and below in CONCACAF per the FIFA rankings will be divided into six groups of five. The official draw will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. 

After group stage play consisting of two matches at home and two matches away, the top finishers of the six groups will advance to the championship. They will join the USWNT and Canada, the top two ranked CONCACAF teams, receive an automatic bye to the W championship. 

W Championship qualifies teams for World Cup, Olympics 

The eight nations will be divided into two groups of four. Following group play, the top two finishers in each group will advance to the W Championship semifinals. They will also have a guaranteed spot in the Women's World Cup, set to take place in Australia and New Zealand in 2023

The teams that finished in third place in each group will play an intercontinental World Cup playoff. 

The knockout stages of the W Championship will determine Olympic qualifying. The champion will have clinched a spot in the Olympics and the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup, scheduled for June 2024. The runner-up and third-place finishers will have a play-in in September of 2023 to qualify for the following summer's Olympics and the W Cup. 

W Gold Cup format 

The W Gold Cup — which looks more rose gold in CONCACAF materials — has a qualifying format similar to the men's Nations League. The 33 teams in the field are split into three leagues: 

  • League A: Top nine ranked nations divided into three groups of three teams

  • League B: Next 12 best-ranked teams divided into three groups of four teams

  • League C: Lowest ranked 12 teams divided into three groups of four teams

They will play home-and-away group stage matches during the September, October and November windows. The top finisher of each of the League A groups will qualify for the Gold Cup group stage. 

The second-place finishers in A and the first-place finishers in each of the B leagues will play a W Gold Cup Play-in, scheduled for April 2023. The three play-in winners will be included in the group stage. 

The Gold Cup will consist of 12 teams split into three groups of four. The tournament will be played via single round-robin play with the group winners, runner-up and two best third-place teams moving into the knockout rounds. 

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