For those who are new fans to the sport of soccer, you may find it slightly confusing to keep up with all the national leagues, associations and matches. At Kick from the Spot we are here for you.  In the United States CONCACAF is an important acronym to know and understand.  Here are the basics you should know about CONCACAF.

What CONCACAF Stands For?

CONCACAF is the abbreviation for “The Confederation of North, Central America And Caribbean Association Football.” The association consists of North American members, Central American members, Caribbean members as well as the independent nations of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. It was created in 1961 and merged the NAFC and CCCF. Today it is considered the third most successful confederation of FIFA.

FIFA is the “Federation Internationale de Football Association”. FIFA is responsible for organizing, promoting and regulating soccer's major tournaments. There are six confederations that create FIFA, one of which is CONCACAF.  The most notable tournament arranged by FIFA is the World Cup.

What Does CONCACAF Do?

The main responsibility of CONCACAF is to organize teams and clubs who will compete in the World Cup qualifying tournaments. CONCACAF is composed of a number of independent territories and each of these territories will have their own leagues or associations.  Each country will have its own football league system.  The systems are designed so that the top placing leagues will compete for the club championships. The club champions then move on to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League will then qualify for a spot to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.  CONCACAF also acts as the organizing body under FIFA that is responsible for amatuer and international clubs within the CONCACAF boundaries.  CONCACAF provides a vehicle for qualification and entry to the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

 The distinction between professional club teams and international teams can complicate the general understanding of organized soccer.  CONCACAF and the other confederations under FIFA organize both domestic professional soccer and international soccer within their boundaries.

The CONCACAF Champions League:

The CONCACAF Champions League is a tournament for domestic professional soccer clubs.  The football tournament takes place for August – October and from March -May. Tournaments played during August to October consist of the first stage of the tournament. Twenty four teams start in the tournament and are divided into eight groups of three teams. Nine teams are from the North American Zone. The North American Zone or NAFU consists of the territories of Canada, Mexico and The United States. Twelve teams are from the Central American Zone, or UNCAF. The remaining three teams come from the Caribbean Zone or CFU.

Each team in the group is played twice by the other teams in the group. The eight winners, one from each group, advance to the knockout tournaments. These quarterfinal, semifinal and finals round are held from March to May.

 The Bottom Line:

 CONCACAF is one of six associations within FIFA in charge of professional and international soccer within it boundaries.  The United States is in the CONCACAF association.  CONCACAF organizes tournaments for its members to qualify to larger tournaments within FIFA like the World Cup (national teams) and the Club World Cup (domestic professional teams).