The road to future Gold Cups will lead through the brand-new Concacaf Nations League.
Concacaf on Wednesday released the details for the qualifying process for the next Gold Cup, set for 2021, a path that begins this week as CNL action kicks off.
All 41 of the confederation’s member nations will have the opportunity to qualify for the continent’s top international tournament, though smaller countries face a significantly longer journey to the Gold Cup than more established ones.
The group stage of the three-tiered Nations League will take place in this year’s September, October and November FIFA international windows. After round-robin play, the four League A group winners will advance to the CNL finals – originally scheduled for next March but now moved to June – which will crown the first-ever competition champion. The top two teams from each of the four League A groups will qualify directly to the 2021 Gold Cup.
The group winners from League B and League C will be promoted to League A and B, respectively, while the teams at the bottom of League A and League B will be relegated to League B and C, respectively, for the next edition of the CNL.
Meanwhile, the winner of each of the four League B groups will qualify directly to the 2021 Gold Cup. That leaves four remaining slots in the Gold Cup field, which will be filled by a two-round qualifying playoff in March and June of 2020 featuring the third-place finishers in League A, the second-place finishers in League B and the first-place finishers in League C.
In the first round, the second-place finishers of League B will face the first-place finishers of League C in a home-and-away series in March. The four winners will advance to the second round, where they will face the third-place finishers of League A in June. The winners of those four matchups winners of round two will qualify to the 2021 Gold Cup.
“The Concacaf Nations League is about uniting the Confederation through meaningful competition, while providing an exciting pathway to the Gold Cup,” said Concacaf president Victor Montagliani in a statement. “Through this tournament, all 41 Concacaf member associations are able to follow the dream of competing on a more consistent basis, opening the door for continued development across our entire region.”