CONCACAF close to agreement on new Nations League plan - source

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - A new Nations League tournament, for teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is close to being agreed upon with an expected start in September, 2018, a person with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.

CONCACAF, which governs the sport in the region, has been consulting with its 41 national associations, which includes the United States and Mexico, about a competition which will be similar to UEFA’s Nations League, which is due to begin in Europe in September.

The person, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the new competition as it has yet to be formally agreed by CONCACAF, said an announcement of the plan was imminent.

“It has been a long process of discussions for many months but an agreement is close and a public announcement is imminent,” said the source.

The precise format and structure of the competition has yet to be settled but it is expected to broadly follow a similar approach to UEFA’s new competition which replaces friendly matches with competitive games on FIFA’s international dates.

Last week, UEFA and FIFA said that discussions have been taking place about expanding the Nations League concept globally. nL4N1NA06K

While discussions are at a relatively early stage, one of the ideas that has been floated in media reports is for regional or continental ‘leagues’ with a mini-tournament involving the winners from across the world.

Such mini-tournaments could also be held for teams from the lower ‘divisions’ from different confederations, creating a sort of ‘minnows World Cup’.

UEFA’s Nations League starts will feature four divisions of national teams with the competition also offering an opportunity to qualify for the European Championship, which is held every four years.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge