Concacaf, on Wednesday, announced details of the first-ever W Gold Cup, which will be held at a different time than originally planned.
The continental championship will be held from Feb. 17, 2024, until March 10, 2024. The tournament will be held in the United States, at venues to be announced.
The original plan for the tournament was for it to take place in June 2024, just before the Paris Olympics. That would have created significant fixture congestion and another major scheduling headache for the National Women’s Soccer League. As a result of the Gold Cup’s shift to the winter, next year’s SheBelieves Cup will be moved to a different date.
In forwarding the Concacaf release, U.S. Soccer stated, “U.S. Soccer is in the process of identifying the best dates to hold the tournament in 2024. This adjustment to the SheBelieves Cup schedule will only apply to years in which the Olympic Games are staged.”
The W Gold Cup expands Concacaf’s women’s competitions. The Concacaf men’s Gold Cup has been played since 1991, with the U.S. winning the first competition. Now, women’s sides in the region will be able to vie for the first-ever title.
The 12-team group stage of the Concacaf W Gold Cup will be held from Feb. 20-28, 2024, with the knockout rounds beginning on March 2, 2024. The first- and second-place team in each group will advance to the knockout rounds, along with the two best third-place teams. Four of those squads (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay) will be guest teams from South America.
Qualification for the W Gold Cup will begin in September 2023, with a draw for qualifiers taking place on May 17, 2023. There is only one qualified team from Concacaf for the W Gold Cup: the United States women’s national team earned an automatic berth due to their first-place finish in the Concacaf W Championship in July 2022.
Canada or Jamaica will have a chance to qualify, as well. The two sides will feature in a two-leg Concacaf Olympic play-in, with the first match being held in Jamaica and the second in Canada, sometime in September 2023. That match will serve as the Olympic qualifier — the U.S. already qualified for the Olympics — and the winner will also earn a spot in the W Gold Cup.
The other six Concacaf teams will have to compete in the qualifiers in 2024. ‘The Road to the Gold Cup’ will see three league s— League A, B and C. Positions in those leagues are based on Concacaf rankings (not including the two that will compete at the 2024 Olympics). There will be nine teams in League A, 12 teams in League B and 16 teams in League C.
In League A, there are three teams in three groups. The top team in each group will earn an automatic qualifier to the W Gold Cup. The second place teams will face off with the first-place teams in League B — there will be three groups of four teams — for a spot in the Gold Cup.
League C teams will not have a chance to qualify for the W Gold Cup.
From Concacaf, beginning on Feb. 17, 2024: “The preliminary round will be composed of a single round. The six participants, to be determined via the Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup… will be divided into three pairings according to their Concacaf Women’s Ranking of December 2023 (published after the last match of the Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup), as follows:
- Highest ranked team vs lowest ranked team
- Second ranked team vs Fifth ranked team
- Third ranked team vs Fourth ranked team
After single match elimination play, the winning team in each of the matchups will advance to the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup Group Stage (three teams in total).”
Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani said the W Gold Cup will be a “flagship event” for women’s soccer in the region.
“The tournament will be a celebration of the work we have done so far, hand-in-hand with our federations, implementing our groundbreaking Concacaf W strategy, which was launched in 2019 to prioritize the growth of women’s football at all levels,” Montagliani said. “While there remains more work to do, I believe we are now truly beginning to see the benefits of that strategy, not least through the performances of the record six Concacaf teams who have qualified for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.”
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