CONCACAF Gold Cup vs Nations League – What&39s The Difference? – Football Handbook

    the concacaf gold cup and the concacaf nations league are two of the most popular soccer competitions for national teams from north america, central america and the caribbean.

    given that both are competitions organized by concacaf, how are they different from each other?

    Reading: Gold cup vs nations league

    Here’s what you need to know:

    the difference between the gold cup and the nations league

    the gold cup involves the top 16 concacaf teams and helps determine the best concacaf team. meanwhile, the concacaf nations league involves all 41 concacaf teams, and serves as a qualifier for the gold cup.

    Founded in 2018, the League of Nations aims to develop football in the “weaker” countriesthat are in the CONCACAF region.

    here is an additional comparison between these 2 competitions:

    number of teams involved

    16 nations participate in the gold cup. within these 16 teams, the gold cup can invite nations that are not members of concacaf.

    an example is qatar, which participated in the 2021 gold cup.

    Meanwhile, the CONCACAF Nations Leagueconsists of 41 teams, all of which are CONCACAF member countries.

    the concacaf association is made up of countries from:

    • north america
    • central america
    • caribbean

    some of the major countries in this region include:

    • mexico
    • united states
    • canada
    • costa rica

    frequency and duration of competition

    both the gold cup and the league of nations are held every 2 years.

    Since its inauguration in 1991, the CONCACAF Gold Cup has been regularly hosted or co-sponsored by the United States.

    all matches are played in less than a month.

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    The next CONCACAF Nations League tournament will start in June 2022 and will end in March 2023. As such, it will last approximately 10 months.

    competition format

    for the gold cup, the 16 teams are divided into 4 groups, each with 4 teams.

    The top 2 teams in each group will play the quarterfinals.

    for the concacaf nations league, all sanctioned teams are assigned to leagues based on their current fifa rankings:

    The promotion-relegation system of the Nations League works as follows:

    this means that league a will include the teams that performed the best.

    The CONCACAF Nations League takes the place of the international friendlies that usually occur during the soccer season.

    With this league structure, it gives the ‘weaker’ teams in concacaf something to fight for: a chance to qualify for the gold cup.

    presence of the match for third place

    In the CONCACAF Nations League, the two teams that were eliminated in the semifinals will play in the play-offs for third place.

    Meanwhile, the match for third place has not been played in the Gold Cup since the 2017 tournament.

    number of games played

    united states won the 2020/2021 concacaf nations league and the 2021 concacaf gold cup. for both competitions, they played a total of 6 matches.

    Assuming your team reaches the gold cup final, a series of 3 matches are played in the group stage and the other 3 are in the knockout stage (quarterfinals). finals, semifinals and final).

    With the same scenario, for the Nations League a number of 4 games are played in the group stage and the other 2 are the semifinal and the final.

    team size

    Both the Gold Cup and Nations League have the same rules for team size for each team. the maximum number of players on a team is 23.

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    previously, the gold cup allowed rosters of up to 35 players. however, it was reduced to 23 in 2019.

    competition qualification

    all 41 concacaf member countries automatically qualify for the nations league. these countries are assigned to the different leagues (a, b and c) based on the results of the previous tournament.

    these 41 nations will fight for a place in the 16 qualifying places of the gold cup:

    Gold Cup Playoffs involve:

    • 4 third teams from league a
    • 4 second teams from league b
    • 4 group winners from league c

    rewards for winning the competition

    If you win both the Concacaf Gold Cup and the Nations League, it will not guarantee you a spot in the FIFA World Cup group stage. instead, world cup placements are determined by concacaf world cup qualifiers.

    The winner of the gold cup will be crowned the continental champion of the concacaf region and will obtain a prize of around $1 million dollars.

    The most successful team in the history of the tournament is Mexico, with 8 titles.

    meanwhile, the winners of the concacaf nations league won’t ‘get much prestige‘ as ultimately the trophy doesn’t really matter.

    instead, the nations league will be a great way for “lower tier” teams to compete against each other, especially for those in leagues b and c.

    Instead of playing pointless friendlies, there is an incentive for these teams to do well in the nations league to qualify for the gold cup.


    here is a comparison summary between these 2 competitions:


    both the concacaf nations league and the concacaf gold cup are competitions for the national teams of north america.

    while the winner of the gold cup gets the title of the best team in concacaf, the nations league has the objective of promoting and developing soccer in the concacaf region.


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    See also: How many teams qualify for world cup from concacaf

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