The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has announced the format for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Confederation Qualifiers. The restructured competition will be composed of two parts, which will take place simultaneously during the FIFA-match windows in 2020 and 2021.
The first part of the CONCACAF qualifiers, which will be played in a Hexagonal format, will be contested between the top six ranked CONCACAF Member Associations based on the FIFA Ranking published after the FIFA window of June 2020. After home-and-away round robin play during the FIFA Match windows of September, October and November of 2020 and March and September of 2021, the top three teams will qualify directly to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The second part of the qualifiers, played across a Group Stage and knockout phase, will involve the CONCACAF Member Associations ranked 7-35 according to the FIFA Ranking published after the FIFA window of June 2020. For the group stage, these 29 participating CONCACAF Member Associations will be divided into eight groups (five groups of four teams and three groups of three teams). After home-and-away round robin play during the FIFA Match windows of September, October and November of 2020, the first-place finishers in each of the eight group will qualify for the knock out stage.
The quarterfinals, semifinals and final matches of the knock out phase will all be played in a home-and-away direct elimination format, during the FIFA Match windows of March, June and September 2021.
The winner of the knockout phase will face the fourth-place finisher of the Hexagonal group to determine the CONCACAF representative in the FIFA intercontinental playoff. The home-and-away playoff matches between the two CONCACAF representatives will take place during the FIFA Match Window of October 2021.
“The love for the game in this region is growing rapidly and our diverse and dynamic communities want a clear pathway to world-class football. Through our freshly designed formats — across FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, CONCACAF Nations League and CONCACAF Gold Cup — we are staging more competitive international matches than ever-before to help these communities fulfill their potential,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani.
“This new FIFA World Cup Qualifying format, based on the FIFA rankings, makes every competitive match count. Alongside the CONCACAF Nations League, and our expanded Gold Cup, it will raise standards of play to unprecedented levels and develop the sport across the region. Making the leading CONCACAF nations stronger on the global stage, while giving our emerging footballing nations the chance to pursue their dreams of playing at a World Cup.”
The date, location and procedures for the draw which will determine the groups and match schedule for the Hexagonal will be announced later this year.