By the time COVID-19 had swept the world, the North, Central and Caribbean American version of the Champions League was warming up ever so nicely and with the competition reaching its quarterfinal stage, the brakes were then unfortunately applied in March.
Which has meant with three of the four ties playing only their first legs and the pairing of Los Angeles FC and Cruz Azul yet to kick a ball in anger, the 2020 edition of the tournament was held in a state of paralysis.
Thankfully though, it seems as if the eight remaining teams will be awoken from their collective slumber and by the end of the year, the confederation will be able to crown its most dominant club within the region.
Whereas the UEFA Champions League solely saw the Portuguese capital of Lisbon take the burden of hosting such a big football party, the likelihood is that the United States will spread the load over several nationwide venues.
Which means for those three teams that played their quarterfinal first leg on the road, they will now have to cede home advantage and although that might bring the question of sporting integrity to the fore, there is a sense that the show does need to go on one way or the other.
In addition to this, the yet to be uncontested tie between Los Angeles FC and Cruz Azul will instead be a one-off meeting with the winner going onto the Semi-finals and if it ends in a draw, penalties will be the only tiebreaker method to be utilised.
On the announcement of these plans, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani had this to say:
“It has been extremely pleasing to see so many leagues across the region get back to playing football again and the time is right for our flagship club tournament, the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, to return with the necessary protocols in place to ensure it is safe for everyone involved”
Of course, all the game’s separate regional confederations have suffered scheduling issues because of COVID-19, and this has also had a knock-on effect for FIFA’s 2020 edition of their Club World Cup competition.
As things stand, only one of the six confederations have managed to supply an entrant for the competition, as Bayern Munich’s success over Paris Saint-Germain in August has confirmed their participation as Europe’s representatives.
At present, they are only joined by Qatar’s Stars League winners of 2019/20 and this means that Al-Duhail are now waiting to see who the OFC (Oceania) will eventually put forward as their entrant for the first round.
Fast forward to the point where CONCACAF complete the Champions League on December 22ndand the picture will look a little rosier, as five of the seven entrants will then be known. However, with two berths still unclaimed by that point, the tournament looks set to be delayed until 2021.
While it cannot logically be played until February 2021 at the earliest, as COMNEBOL (South American) will not be crowing a Copa Libertadores winner for 2020 until a yet to be confirmed date in the month before.
Should it be left that late, it might create problems for Bayern Munich and their own hopes for retaining the trophy that they won just three months ago and all of a sudden, the question of where the 2020 Club World Cup fits in during 2021, or even at all has to be asked.
That logistical planning will hopefully come in good time, as for now those within CONCACAF can at least look forward to some elite level club competition and with eight teams looking for regional supremacy, we await to see just who will come out on top at the end of December.
Written by Dan Tracey