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CONCACAF Champions Cup
Organizing body CONCACAF
Founded1962; 62 years ago (1962)
RegionNorth America, Central America, and the Caribbean
Number of teams27 (2024)
Qualifier for FIFA Club World Cup
FIFA Intercontinental Cup
Current champion(s) Mexico Pachuca
(6th title)
Most successful club(s) Mexico América
(7 titles)
Television broadcastersCONCACAF ( YouTube)
Website CONCACAF Champions Cup
2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup

The CONCACAF Champions Cup (previously known as the CONCACAF Champions League) is an annual continental club football competition organized by CONCACAF. The tournament is contested by clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is the most important tournament in CONCACAF club football. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions Cup automatically qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup and the FIFA Intercontinental Cup.

The tournament currently uses a knockout format; it had a group stage prior to the 2018 competition. Unlike its European and South American counterparts, the winner of the CONCACAF Champions Cup does not automatically qualify for the following season's competition. [1]

The title has been won by 29 clubs, 14 of which have won the title more than once. Mexican clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories, with 39 titles in total. The second most successful league has been Costa Rica's Primera División, with six titles in total. Mexican side América are the most successful club in the competition's history, with seven titles. The most successful non-Mexican club is Saprissa of Costa Rica, with three titles. The only four teams to successfully defend the trophy are all Mexican: América, Cruz Azul, Pachuca and Monterrey. The current champions of the competition are Pachuca, who defeated Columbus Crew in the 2024 final.

Competition format

Each round of competition consists of a two-leg home-and-away series with the winner determined by aggregate goals over both legs. If aggregate goals are equal, the away goals rule is applied. If away goals are also equal, the game goes to an extra time period. If it is still tied, the game is decided through a penalty shoot-out.

Prior to 2018, the tournament had two parts: a group stage held from August to October, and a knockout phase held from March to May of the following year. The group stage consisted of 24 teams playing in eight groups of three teams each, with each team playing the other two teams in its group twice. United States and Mexican sides could not be drawn into the same group. The winners of each of the eight groups advanced to the quarterfinals. Each phase of the knockout rounds (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals) consisted of a two-leg home-and-away series with the winner determined by aggregate goal differential. [2] Seeding in the knockout phase was determined by performance during the group stage.

Prior to the 2012–13 season, the competition had involved four groups of four, with one Mexican team and one U.S. team in each group. A preliminary round was used to reduce the number of teams from 24 to 16.

History

CONCACAF Champions Cup and Champions League winners
Season Winners
CONCACAF Champions' Cup
1962 Mexico Guadalajara
1963 Haiti Racing Club Haïtien
1967 El Salvador Alianza
1968 Mexico Toluca
1969 Mexico Cruz Azul
1970 Mexico Cruz Azul (2)
1971 Mexico Cruz Azul (3)
1972 Honduras Olimpia
1973 Suriname (Kingdom of the Netherlands) Transvaal
1974 Guatemala Municipal
1975 Mexico Atlético Español
1976 El Salvador Águila
1977 Mexico América
1978 Mexico Leones Negros UdeG
Guatemala Comunicaciones
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force
1979 El Salvador FAS
1980 Mexico UNAM
1981 Suriname Transvaal (2)
1982 Mexico UNAM (2)
1983 Mexico Atlante
1984 Haiti Violette
1985 Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (2)
1986 Costa Rica Alajuelense
1987 Mexico América (2)
1988 Honduras Olimpia (2)
1989 Mexico UNAM (3)
1990 Mexico América (3)
1991 Mexico Puebla
1992 Mexico América (4)
1993 Costa Rica Saprissa
1994 Costa Rica Cartaginés
1995 Costa Rica Saprissa (2)
1996 Mexico Cruz Azul (4)
1997 Mexico Cruz Azul (5)
1998 United States D.C. United
1999 Mexico Necaxa (2)
2000 United States LA Galaxy
2002 Mexico Pachuca
2003 Mexico Toluca (2)
2004 Costa Rica Alajuelense (2)
2005 Costa Rica Saprissa (3)
2006 Mexico América (5)
2007 Mexico Pachuca (2)
2008 Mexico Pachuca (3)
CONCACAF Champions League
2008–09 Mexico Atlante (2)
2009–10 Mexico Pachuca (4)
2010–11 Mexico Monterrey
2011–12 Mexico Monterrey (2)
2012–13 Mexico Monterrey (3)
2013–14 Mexico Cruz Azul (6)
2014–15 Mexico América (6)
2015–16 Mexico América (7)
2016–17 Mexico Pachuca (5)
2018 Mexico Guadalajara (2)
2019 Mexico Monterrey (4)
2020 Mexico UANL
2021 Mexico Monterrey (5)
2022 United States Seattle Sounders
2023 Mexico León
CONCACAF Champions Cup
2024 Mexico Pachuca (6)

Champions' Cup era (1962–2008)

Champions' Cup trophy won by CD Olimpia in 1972

Prior to 2008, the tournament was called the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, but was usually referred to simply as the Champions' Cup. The competition was initially created as a possible measure to enter the South American Copa Libertadores, a competition organized by CONMEBOL.[ citation needed] The competition had several different formats over its lifetime. Initially, only the champions of the North American leagues participated. In 1971, the runners-up of a few North American leagues began to join and the tournament began to be expanded, incorporating round-robin group phases and more teams.

Initial formats (1962–1996)

During the opening rounds of the tournament, teams would compete within one of three regional zones: North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Typically the winner of one zone would receive a bye to the Champions' Cup final while the winner of the other two zones would compete in a semifinal. From 1981, the North and Central American zones were usually combined meaning that the winner of the joint zone would face the winner of the Caribbean zone in the final. From 1993 to 1996, three clubs from the North/Central American zone and one club from the Caribbean zone qualified for the final round of the tournament which was held in a central location.

Knockout formats (1997–2008)

After the creation of the United States' Major League Soccer, the competition became an eight-team knockout tournament with zonal qualification. The first four editions were hosted in a central location with single leg ties before changing to a home-and-away format in 2002. Four North American zone clubs qualified from Liga MX or Major League Soccer, three Central American clubs from the UNCAF Interclub Cup, and one Caribbean club from the CFU Club Championship. In 2002 and 2003, the tournament consisted of 16 teams with twice as many qualifying from each zone. Since 2005, the champion of the competition gained entry into the FIFA Club World Cup, giving clubs an added incentive for a strong participation and greater interest from fans.

Champions League era (2008–2023)

At their 2006 November meeting, the CONCACAF Executive Committee decided to "act upon" a proposal at their next meeting by the CONCACAF Secretariat to develop the CONCACAF Champions' Cup into a larger "Champions League" style event. On 14 November 2007, the CONCACAF Executive Committee reported some of the details. [3]

Initial format: preliminary round and group stage (2008–2012)

The last eight-team Champions' Cup format was used as planned in March and April 2008. Then, a newly expanded 24-team Champions League tournament was conducted starting in August 2008 and concluding in May 2009. [3] [4] The expanded tournament meant that Central American clubs would qualify directly and thus the UNCAF Interclub Cup was ended after 2007.

In the new Champions League tournament, there was a two-legged preliminary round for 16 clubs, with the eight winners advancing to the group stage. They were joined by the other eight teams who qualified directly to the group stage. The clubs involved in the group stage were placed into four groups of four with each team playing the others in its group in both home and away matches. The top two teams from each group advanced to quarterfinals of the knockout rounds, which consisted of two-legged ties. The final round was also two-legged. Also, unlike the previously contested CONCACAF Champions' Cup, the away goals rule is used in the CONCACAF Champions League, but does not apply after a tie goes into extra time. [5]

Elimination of the preliminary round (2012–2017)

On January 12, 2012, CONCACAF announced that the 2012–13 tournament would be played under a different format than previous editions, where the preliminary round is eliminated and all qualified teams enter the group stage. [6] In the group stage, the 24 teams are drawn into eight groups of three, with each group containing one team from each of the three pots. The allocation of teams into pots are based on their national association and qualifying berth. Teams from the same association (excluding "wildcard" teams which replace a team from another association) cannot be drawn with each other in the group stage, and each group is guaranteed to contain a team from either the United States or Mexico, meaning U.S. and Mexican teams cannot play each other in the group stage. Each group is played on a home-and-away round-robin basis. The winners of each group advance to the quarterfinal round of the championship stage.

In the championship stage, the eight teams play a single-elimination tournament. Each tie is played on a home-and-away two-legged basis. The away goals rule is used if the aggregate score is level after normal time of the second leg, but not after extra time, and so a tie is decided by penalty shoot-out if the aggregate score is level after extra time of the second leg. Unlike previous years where a second draw was conducted to set the pairings for the championship stage, the bracket is determined by the teams' record in the group stage. [7] The quarterfinals match the team with the best record against the team with the worst record, while the second-best team faces the seventh-best, third against sixth and fourth against fifth. The top four teams play the second leg at home. In the semifinals, the winner of 1-vs-8 faces the winner of 4-vs-5, with the 1-vs-8 winner hosting the second leg, and likewise 2-vs-7 plays 3-vs-6, with the 2-vs-7 winner hosting the second leg. In the finals, the team that prevails out of the upper bracket of 1-8-4-5 hosts the second leg. This means that the higher-seeded team does not necessarily host the second leg in the semifinals and finals.

Introduction of CONCACAF League and elimination of group stage (2018–2023)

In December 2016, Manuel Quintanilla, president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation, spoke of a possible new format for the competition, [8] a statement that was later corroborated by Garth Lagerwey, the general manager of Seattle Sounders FC. [9] On 23 January 2017, CONCACAF confirmed the new 16-team format beginning with the 2018 edition, eliminating the group stage which had been employed since the re-branding of the competition to the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008. [10]

Under the new CONCACAF competition platform, a new secondary tournament called CONCACAF League would be played from August to December beginning in 2017. The winner of CONCACAF League would qualify to the following year's Champions League where they would be joined by nine North American teams, the Caribbean Club Championship winner, and five Central American league champions who qualified directly. [10] For the 2019–20 competition cycle, the direct Central American berths were removed and CONCACAF League was expanded so that the top-six clubs would qualify to Champions League.

The CONCACAF Champions League under this format had four rounds – round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final – with each being a home-and-away two-legged basis with the away goals rule. [10] However, beginning in 2019, the away goals rule would not be applied for the final round.

Second Champions Cup era (2024)

In February 2021, CONCACAF announced a major overhaul of the tournament which would have included 50 teams and a regional group stage. [11] Twenty teams from North America, twenty from Central America, and ten from the Caribbean would have been divided into groups of five, and a total of 16 teams would advance to the knockout stage. [12] This format was abandoned and was never used.

In September of that year, CONCACAF announced an expansion of the tournament to begin in 2024. The tournament will retain the all-knockout format used since 2018 but will now consist of five rounds and 27 teams participating:

Twenty-two clubs will enter the tournament in Round One while five clubs (the winners of MLS Cup, Liga MX, Leagues Cup, Central American Cup, and Caribbean Cup) receive byes to the round of 16.

Teams may qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League through their domestic leagues or cups, or through their regional cup competitions: the Leagues Cup for teams from North America, the Central American Cup for teams from Central America, and a CONCACAF Caribbean Cup for teams from the Caribbean. All matches will include home and away series between the first round to the semi-finals, with the final being a single match. [13] The CONCACAF League would also cease in 2022 with this new format. [14]

On 6 June 2023, it was announced that to coincide with the new format, the competition had been renamed back to CONCACAF Champions Cup. [15]

Stadium standards

If a club fails to meet the standards for its home stadium, the club must find a suitable stadium in its own country, and if the club fails to provide the adequate facilities, it runs the risk of being replaced by another team. [16] Real Esteli of Nicaragua failed stadium requirements and was replaced by another team for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons. [17] Estadio Independencia in Nicaragua has since been renovated, including upgrades to stadium lighting, and Nicaraguan teams now participate. [18] The qualifying team from Belize failed stadium requirements and was replaced by another team in each season from 2009–10 through 2014–15.

On 8 April 2015, Mexican side Club América broke the all time CONCACAF Champions League match attendance record when a reported 66,208 spectators gathered at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to watch América play Costa Rican club Herediano in the second leg of the semifinals of the 2015 edition of the tournament. [19] This was surpassed by the Seattle Sounders FC on 4 May 2022, at Lumen Field in the final against UNAM with an announced attendance of 68,741. [20]

Prizes

Prize money

Starting with the 2024 edition of the competition, the winning club will receive over US$5,000,000 in prize money and financial distributions. [21] In addition, the winning club qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup, which includes additional prize money.

In 2022, the prize money paid to clubs was as follows: [22]

  • Winner: $500,000
  • Runner-up: $300,000
  • Semifinalists: $200,000

Trophy and medals

Each year, the winning team is presented with the CONCACAF Champions Cup trophy. The current trophy design was introduced in 2018. [23]

Sponsorship

The CONCACAF Champions Cup has several corporate sponsors: Scotiabank (which was a title sponsor of the Champions League from 2014–15 until 2023), [24] Miller Lite, MoneyGram, Maxxis Tires, and Nike. [25] [26] The sponsors' names appear on the boards around the perimeter of the field, and boards for pre-game and post-game interviews and press conferences. [25] Nike is also the official provider of game balls and referee uniforms.

American Airlines was the title sponsor for the Champions' Cup in the 1990s. [27]

Broadcasters

Region Broadcaster Language
Africa ESPN English
  Brunei Astro SuperSport English
  Malaysia
  Canada OneSoccer English/French
  Caribbean Flow Sports English
  Costa Rica Spanish
  El Salvador Spanish
  France RMC Sport French
  Guatemala
Spanish
  Honduras Spanish
Indian subcontinent Fancode English
  Israel Charlton Hebrew
  Mexico Fox Sports Spanish
  Middle East and North Africa Arabic
  Netherlands ESPN Dutch
  Panama Spanish
  Spain Movistar Plus+ Spanish
  Vietnam Viettel Telecom (TV360) Vietnamese
  United States Fox Sports English
UnivisionTUDN Spanish

[28] [29]

The CONCACAF Champions Cup broadcast is also available in South America in all languages on ESPN (Star+) [30] and globally in English through Concacaf GO.

Finals

Since the inaugural edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, the finals have only ever been contested by clubs from Mexico, United States or Canada. The first 14 were won by Mexican clubs. The most recent final was contested by Pachuca and Columbus Crew, with the former winning 3–0.

Records and statistics

Performances by club

Performances in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and CONCACAF Champions League by club
Club Titles Runners-up Years won Years runners-up
Mexico América 7 1 1977, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2006, 2015, 2016 2021
Mexico Cruz Azul 6 2 1969, 1970, 1971, 1996, 1997, 2014 2009, 2010
Mexico Pachuca 6 0 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2017, 2024
Mexico Monterrey 5 0 2011, 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021
Costa Rica Saprissa 3 2 1993, 1995, 2005 2004, 2008
Mexico UNAM 3 2 1980, 1982, 1989 2005, 2022
Suriname Transvaal 2 3 1973, 1981 1974, 1975, 1986
Mexico Toluca 2 3 1968, 2003 1998, 2006, 2014
Costa Rica Alajuelense 2 3 1986, 2004 1971, 1992, 1999
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force 2 2 1978†, 1985 1987, 1988
Honduras Olimpia 2 2 1972, 1988 1985, 2000
Mexico Guadalajara 2 2 1962, 2018 1963, 2007
Mexico Atlante 2 1 1983, 2009 1994
Mexico Necaxa / Atlético Español 2 1 1975, 1999 1996
Mexico UANL 1 3 2020 2016, 2017, 2019
Guatemala Comunicaciones 1 2 1978 1962, 1969
Guatemala Municipal 1 1 1974 1995
Mexico León 1 1 2023 1993
United States LA Galaxy 1 1 2000 1997
Haiti Racing 1 0 1963
El Salvador Alianza 1 0 1967
El Salvador Águila 1 0 1976
Mexico Leones Negros UdeG 1 0 1978
El Salvador FAS 1 0 1979
Haiti Violette 1 0 1984
Mexico Puebla 1 0 1991
Costa Rica Cartaginés 1 0 1994
United States D.C. United 1 0 1998
United States Seattle Sounders FC 1 0 2022
Suriname Robinhood 0 5 1972, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1983
Curaçao Jong Colombia 0 2 1967, 1979
Cuba Pinar del Río 0 2 1989, 1990
Mexico Morelia 0 2 2002, 2003
Mexico Santos Laguna 0 2 2012, 2013
United States Los Angeles FC 0 2 2020, 2023
Honduras Universidad 0 1 1980
El Salvador Atlético Marte 0 1 1981
Trinidad and Tobago Police 0 1 1991
United States Real Salt Lake 0 1 2011
Canada Montreal Impact 0 1 2015
Canada Toronto FC 0 1 2018
United States Columbus Crew 0 1 2024

†Title shared.

* When sorted by years won or lost, the table is sorted by the year of each team's most recent inaugural win or loss.

Performances by nation

Performances in finals by nation
Nation Titles Runners-up Total
  Mexico 39† 20 59
  Costa Rica 6 5 11
  United States 3 5 8
  El Salvador 3 1 4
  Suriname 2 8 10
  Honduras 2 3 5
  Trinidad and Tobago 2† 3 5
  Guatemala 2† 3 5
  Haiti 2 0 2
  Cuba 0 2 2
  Netherlands Antilles 0 2 2
  Canada 0 2 2

†Including one title shared.

See also

References

  1. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League Regulations 2013/2014, Rule 3.7" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2013.
  2. ^ "What is CCL?". Portland Timbers. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b "CONCACAF ExCo meeting in New York". CONCACAF. 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007.
  4. ^ "We Are the Champions (League)". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011.
  5. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League Regulations 2008/2009" (PDF) (Press release). CONCACAF. Retrieved 27 July 2008.[ permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Preliminary Round eliminated from CCL". CONCACAF.com. 1 December 2012. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  7. ^ "CCL Draw procedures unveiled". CONCACAF.com. 6 April 2012. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Nicaragua con dos pases a Liga de Campeones". Metro Nicaragua (in Spanish). 15 December 2016. Archived from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Sounders GM hints at CONCACAF Champions League format change". Goal.com. 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "CONCACAF expands club competition field, implements new Champions League format" (Press release). CONCACAF. 23 January 2017. Archived from the original on 13 June 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Concacaf Champions League to expand with innovative new format starting 2023/24". CONCACAF Champions League. 4 February 2021. Archived from the original on 29 April 2021.
  12. ^ Straus, Brian (4 February 2021). "Concacaf Reveals New CCL Format, Starting in 2023". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Concacaf announces expanded Champions League starting in 2024". MLSSoccer.com. 21 September 2021. Archived from the original on 21 September 2021.
  14. ^ Straus, Brian (4 February 2021). "Concacaf Reveals New CCL Format, Starting in 2023". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Concacaf launches Concacaf Champions Cup as the new flagship men's continental club competition". Concacaf. 6 June 2023. Archived from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  16. ^ "CONCACAF Executive Committee tightens stadium standards for next year's Champions League". CONCACAF Official site. 7 November 2008. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  17. ^ "MLSsoccer.com, Real Esteli FC vs. Sporting Kansas City | CONCACAF Champions League Preview, 6 August 2013". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Pinolero Sports, Luces, ahora sí, en el Independencia" (in Spanish). 18 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Club America breaks SCCL attendance record". CONCACAF. 6 February 2018. Archived from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  20. ^ Evans, Jayda (4 May 2022). "One for the history books: Sounders clinch MLS' first CCL title in front of record crowd in Seattle". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 5 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  21. ^ "2024 Concacaf Champions Cup: All You Need to Know". Concacaf. 6 June 2023. Archived from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  22. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League prize money breakdown: How much money did the Seattle Sounders earn?". www.sportingnews.com. 5 May 2022. Archived from the original on 5 May 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  23. ^ Concacaf Champions League [@TheChampions] (24 May 2018). "Recordamos la trayectoria de la creación de nuestro trofeo hasta llegar a las manos de los campeones" ( Tweet). Retrieved 12 September 2023 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ "Official Logo Unveiled for Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League". CONCACAF.com. 10 February 2015. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015.
  25. ^ a b CONCACAF. "ISSUU – Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League 2015–16 Regulations by CONCACAF". Issuu. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016.
  26. ^ "Champions League". CONCACAF. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013.
  27. ^ Payne, Dave (29 January 1995). "Region's best in San Jose; Champs of 4 nations at Spartan Stadium". The Mercury News. p. D24.
  28. ^ "Watch". CONCACAF.com. 7 March 2021.
  29. ^ "sportdigital Soccer Schedule". livesoccertv.com.
  30. ^ "TV channels listings". soccersat.com. Retrieved 10 January 2024.