On Thursday, Concacaf released the format for qualifying for both the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the 2024 Paris Olympics. If you’re the United States or Canada, it’s probably looking pretty good to you. If you’re any other team, you might need to run really good to find a path to the two major competitions.
Allow this slightly confusing video to show you who goes where and how, but basically the new Concacaf W Championship (yes, that’s the brand) will serve as the qualifying tournament for both the World Cup and Olympics. Both Team USA and Canada will be put directly into the W Championship group stages, while six more teams will be forced to come through qualifiers.
A new tournament, the Concacaf W Gold Cup, will also come on board in 2024. That event will have eight teams from the confederation, as well as four teams from outside of Concacaf invited to join the competition.
We’ll try and brass tax it here:
- The Concacaf W Championship will have eight teams, and will be held in June/July of 2022 at a location to be determined. The format is two groups of four, then semifinals and final.
- All four teams that make the semifinals will qualify for the 2023 World Cup.
- The two third-place teams in each group can also qualify via a home-and-away ties with teams from other confederations to be determined later.
- The winner of the Concacaf W Championship, as well as the winner of a playoff between the team that loses the Championship Final and the team that wins the third place match, will both qualify for the 2024 Olympics and the 2024 W Gold Cup.
So here’s the deal. Unlike The Ocho for the men, there will continue to be no chance for missteps. And with qualifying to both major women’s events on the line, the Concacaf W Championship now becomes massively important for everyone participating. With one injury or bad result (like the USA losing to Canada on a weird call after playing an uninspired match), and you could be out of both competitions. No pressure.
The good news is there will be more matches for women’s soccer in Concacaf that have meaning. The bad news is the insurance policies continue to be basically nil for a bad day at the office.