March 3 – Hosting the 2026 World Cup in the Concacaf region is a chance for the confederation to build new opportunity for all its nations, said Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani.

Speaking at the Financial Time Business of Football Summit in London, Montagliani said the confederation was a far cry from the dark days of 2016 when Concacaf was close to bankruptcy and still reeling from the US Department of Justice indictment of many of its top officials in the FIFAgate scandal.

The speed that Concacaf reinvented itself has been fast but Montagliani would be the first to stay it is still a work in progress as they move towards the highest profile sports event in the world being hosted in their region.

“The story is not about the World Cup but about how we (in Concacaf) use it as a platform. It is about what we can build around that,” said Montagliani.

The three years run in to the 2026 finals will see Concacaf make major upgrades to its men’s national team competitions and increased playing opportunity.

Concacaf is expanding the top tier of its Nations League to 16 teams and has unveiled new competition formats and qualification routes for the 2023-26 cycle of men’s national team competitions, as well as for 2026 World Cup.

This year will see another edition of the expanded Gold Cup (in 2021 Concacaf added a 12-team centralised preliminary round taking the total of number nations with a Gold Cup experience to 25 teams) and completion of the second edition of its Nations League.

In 2024 Concacaf will welcome South America’s nations to the US for the Copa America where it will have six of its nations compete against the South Americans, as well as the full introduction of the reformatted Nations League.

The Gold Cup will return again in 2025, as well as qualifying for the 2026 World Cup that will be played without the three host nations of Canada, Mexico and the US.

“What we have created is a platform of nations to come through,” said Montagliani.

It is all built around the fundamental belief that there needs to be more high quality competitive football and opportunity to play, and that Concacaf should be about ‘football first’ – Montagliani’s rallying cry from his election to the presidency in 2016 and which is still at the forefront of his expectation for his confederation and member associations.

“These revamped formats and competitions will provide a tremendous platform for our men’s national teams as they prepare to compete on the regional and global stage,” said Montagliani.

“With multiple editions of the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup on the horizon, as well as an exciting opportunity to compete with South American teams in an official competition, Concacaf Member Associations have a fantastic opportunity to prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2026, which takes place in our region and will be the biggest World Cup in history.”

See: Concacaf unveils beefed up CNL and the roads to 2024 Copa America, Gold Cup and 2026

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