CONCACAF unveils W Gold Cup tournament format for 2024

CONCACAF has announced the qualifying format and schedule for the inaugural W Gold Cup tournament, a women's competition that will kick off in the United States in 2024.

Unveiled on International Women's Day, the tournament will begin with a preliminary round on Feb. 17 that will decide the final three entrants into the 12-team group stage that starts on Feb. 20. Eight teams will then qualify for the knockout round that will conclude with a final on March 10.

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"This new CONCACAF W Gold Cup will be the flagship event for women's national team football in our region and will showcase some of the very best women's football in CONCACAF and the world," said federation president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani in a statement.

As winners of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, the U.S. women have already qualified as one of eight CONCACAF sides that will take part in the tournament. Four CONMEBOL teams (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay) are also invited in the group stage as the top finishers in the 2022 Copa America Femenina.

The winner of the CONCACAF Olympic play-in between Canada and Jamaica will secure another place in the tournament's group stage, along with six other teams from the North American region that will go through qualifying rounds. In the chase for those six spots, 33 CONCACAF sides in total (aside from the USWNT and the winner of Canada vs Jamaica) will take part in a 2023 Road to CONCACAF W Gold Cup competition.

Based on rankings that are set to be finalized this month, the Road to CONCACAF W Gold Cup tournament will be split up into: League A (nine highest ranked teams in three groups of three), League B (next 12 highest ranked teams in three groups of four), and League C (12 lowest ranked teams in three groups of four). Teams placed in League C will be unable to earn a place in the CONCACAF W Gold Cup.

Following group stage play that is set to begin this September and conclude in November, the three group stage leaders in League A will automatically earn positions in the CONCACAF W Gold Cup group stage. The three runners-up from League A and the three group winners from League B will then be paired up (highest ranked vs. lowest ranked, second highest ranked vs. fifth ranked, third ranked vs. fourth ranked) for next February's preliminary round that will determine the three final entrants into the CONCACAF W Gold Cup group stage.

Both the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and the Road to CONCACAF W Gold Cup competitions will take place after this summer's Women's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, which will host a record total of six teams from the North American region: Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama and the United States. The USWNT are the current back-to-back holders of the Women's World Cup.

As part of a greater strategic partnership, the CONCACAF W Gold Cup is one of a handful of collaborations for the North American federation with CONMEBOL for 2024 that also includes shared projects on the men's side like the Copa America and a "final four" club competition.