CONCACAF creates club competition opening for Canadian Premier League team
Chivas players celebrate winning the CONCACAF Champions League final soccer match in Guadalajara, Mexico, Wednesday, April, 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Verdugo
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:17PM EST
TORONTO -- It appears FC Edmonton, Hamilton's Forge FC or any other Canadian Premier League team could rule Central American and Caribbean club soccer or even take part in the FIFA Club World Cup, thanks to a change in CONCACAF competition.
CONCACAF, which governs North and Central America and the Caribbean, announced Monday that a CPL team will get a berth in the newly expanded Scotiabank CONCACAF League -- a feeder for the elite CONCACAF Champions League that crowns the confederation club champion.
The CONCACAF League will be expanded to 22 teams from 16 with the addition of a CPL side and five additional Central American clubs.
"We are very excited to take a major step forward to enhance our expanded CONCACAF club competition platform," CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio said in a statement. "We are creating a larger Scotiabank CONCACAF League that will increase the opportunities for our members in the Caribbean and Central America to play more relevant, competitive matches.
"With 22 teams participating, the window of access is wider, providing greater chances to qualify to the region's premier tournament for clubs, the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League."
Currently only the winner of the Canadian Championship -- or if the MLS champion was Canadian -- represents Canada in the Champions League. All seven CPL teams are joining the Canadian Championship this year.
The knockout CONCACAF League, which will send six teams to the Champions League, will open in July with a preliminary round involving the CPL entry and 11 other teams.
The six winners would then join the top nine Central American clubs and runner-up of the Caribbean Club Championship in the round of 16. Once a victor is crowned -- as Scotiabank CONCACAF League champion -- the winner and the five next best teams qualify for the top-tier Champions League.
The CONCACAF Champions League winner advances to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Given the CPL kicks off its inaugural season in late April, it is not clear how the first CPL participant will be chosen for a July start to the CONCACAF League. A CONCACAF spokesman said the CPL and Canadian Soccer Association will announce the chosen CPL team.
The CSA did not immediately respond to a query about determining the CPL entry.