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Concacaf Champions League poised to expand

The Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the premier men’s club tournament of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, is poised to expand in size in the coming years.

The Concacaf-run event, which offers a place to the winners in the Fifa Club World Cup, currently has a 16-team knockout format and is played between February and May.

The federation’s president Victor Montagliani believes the growth of the club competition should take priority over any potential merger between Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX, which remains purely at the discussion level.

“We’re going to have an expanded Champions League and I think that, to be honest with you, in the short term and medium term that will be the vehicle to get those matchups that people are looking at,” Montagliani told OneSoccer. “In terms of any type of super league, even Central America is talking about creating a super league among their seven countries, which would be a very interesting sort of discussion, because they are already competitive, as you see with [Honduran side] Olimpia knocking off the [Seattle] Sounders.”

He added: “A lot of those discussions I think are probably more post-2026 discussion, let’s see what the football world looks like. But I think between now and 2026 you’re going to see more of an expanded version of our Champions League.”

Any potential merger between MLS and Liga MX would happen after the 2026 World Cup, which is being co-hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, Montagliani added.

“It goes back to the governance of the game, this is not a situation like the AFL [American Football League] and the NFL [National Football League] where the AFL just walks over to another building and says ‘let’s merge’ and now you have an NFL, it’s not that easy,” he said. “This is not leagues merging, this is countries, so already it’s a different dynamic.”

Such a move would have a big impact in Europe, where there has been talk of a European Super League for a number of years. “I can already see the Europeans raising their eyebrows,” Montagliani said.

As a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Montagliani said the format of Concacaf qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would most likely change. But he said it was too early to determine exactly how, with Fifa international windows yet to be determined for 2020 and 2021.