CONCACAF Champions Cup

(Redirected from CONCACAF Champions League)

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. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions Cup automatically qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup.

CONCACAF Champions Cup
Organizing bodyCONCACAF
Founded1962; 62 years ago (1962)
RegionNorth America, Central America, and the Caribbean
Number of teams27 (2024)
Qualifier forFIFA Club World Cup
FIFA Intercontinental Cup
Current champion(s)Mexico León
(1st title)
Most successful club(s)Mexico América
(7 titles)
Television broadcastersCONCACAF (YouTube) Edit this at Wikidata
2024 CONCACAF Champions 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 38 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 León, who defeated Los Angeles FC in the 2023 final.

Competition format edit

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 is decided by an immediate penalty shoot-out; there are no overtime periods.[2]

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.[3] 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 edit

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

Champions' Cup era (1962–2008) edit

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) edit

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) edit

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) edit

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.[4]

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

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.[4][5] 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.[6]

Elimination of the preliminary round (2012–2017) edit

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.[7] 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.[8] 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) edit

In December 2016, Manuel Quintanilla, president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation, spoke of a possible new format for the competition,[9] a statement that was later corroborated by Garth Lagerwey, the general manager of Seattle Sounders FC.[10] 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.[11]

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.[11] 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.[11] However, beginning in 2019, the away goals rule would not be applied for the final round.

Second Champions Cup era (2024) edit

In February 2021, CONCACAF announced a major overhaul of the tournament which would have included 50 teams and a regional group stage.[12] 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.[13] 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 at a neutral site.[14] The CONCACAF League would also cease in 2022 with this new format.[15]

On 6 June 2023, it was announced that to coincide with the new format, the competition had been renamed back to CONCACAF Champions Cup.[16]

Stadium standards edit

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.[17] Real Esteli of Nicaragua failed stadium requirements and was replaced by another team for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons.[18] Estadio Independencia in Nicaragua has since been renovated, including upgrades to stadium lighting, and Nicaraguan teams now participate.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

Prizes edit

Prize money edit

Starting with the 2024 edition of the competition, the winning club will receive over US$5,000,000 in prize money and financial distributions.[22] 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:[23]

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

Trophy and medals edit

Each year, the winning team is presented with the CONCACAF Champions League trophy. The current trophy design was introduced in 2018.[24]

Sponsorship edit

The CONCACAF Champions Cup has several corporate sponsors: Scotiabank (which was a title sponsor of the Champions League from 2014–15 until 2023),[25] Miller Lite, MoneyGram, Maxxis Tires, and Nike.[26][27] 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.[26] 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.[28]

Broadcasters edit

Region Broadcaster Language
  Austria Sportdigital German
  Canada OneSoccer English/French
  Caribbean Flow Sports English
  Costa Rica Spanish
  El Salvador Spanish
  Germany Sportdigital German
  Honduras Spanish
  Italy One Football Various
  Mexico Fox Sports Spanish
  Panama Spanish
  Switzerland Sportdigital German
  United States Fox Sports English
UnivisionTUDN Spanish
  Vietnam Viettel Vietnamese


The CONCACAF Champions Cup broadcast is also available in South America in all languages on ESPN (Star+)[31] and globally in English through Concacaf GO.

Finals edit

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 León and Los Angeles FC, won by the former 3–1 on aggregate.

Records and statistics edit

Performances by club edit

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

†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 edit

Performances in finals by nation
Nation Titles Runners-up Total
  Mexico 38† 20 58
  Costa Rica 6 5 11
  United States 3 4 7
  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 edit

References edit

  1. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League Regulations 2013/2014, Rule 3.7" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2013.
  2. ^ ScotiaBank Champions League 2018 Regulations. Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). 2017. pp. 5–7. Archived from the original on 18 February 2018.
  3. ^ "What is CCL?". Portland Timbers. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b "CONCACAF ExCo meeting in New York". CONCACAF. 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007.
  5. ^ "We Are the Champions (League)". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011.
  6. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League Regulations 2008/2009" (PDF) (Press release). CONCACAF. Retrieved 27 July 2008.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Preliminary Round eliminated from CCL". 1 December 2012. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  8. ^ "CCL Draw procedures unveiled". 6 April 2012. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Sounders GM hints at CONCACAF Champions League format change". 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Concacaf announces expanded Champions League starting in 2024". 21 September 2021. Archived from the original on 21 September 2021.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ ", Real Esteli FC vs. Sporting Kansas City | CONCACAF Champions League Preview, 6 August 2013". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Pinolero Sports, Luces, ahora sí, en el Independencia" (in Spanish). 18 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Club America breaks SCCL attendance record". CONCACAF. 6 February 2018. Archived from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "CONCACAF Champions League prize money breakdown: How much money did the Seattle Sounders earn?". Archived from the original on 5 May 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Official Logo Unveiled for Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League". 10 February 2015. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015.
  26. ^ a b CONCACAF. "ISSUU – Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League 2015–16 Regulations by CONCACAF". Issuu. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016.
  27. ^ "Champions League". CONCACAF. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013.
  28. ^ Payne, Dave (29 January 1995). "Region's best in San Jose; Champs of 4 nations at Spartan Stadium". The Mercury News. p. D24.
  29. ^ "Watch".
  30. ^ "sportdigital Soccer Schedule".
  31. ^ "TV channels listings". Retrieved 10 January 2024.

External links edit