11/7/2008 – NEW YORK – The initial success of the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League led the confederation’s Executive Committee on Friday to require teams participating in next year’s tournament to find a suitable stadium within its own country or risk being replaced.

The seven-member board agreed to tighten the stadium standards after allowing teams in this year’s inaugural tournament to play its home games within its region if its regular home venue did not have adequate facilities such as power supply, floodlighting and locker rooms.

This year, Nicaragua’s Real Esteli played its home game against the Montreal Impact in the Preliminary Round in Comayagua, Honduras, and Belizean club Hankook Verdes staged its home match against Cruz Azul in Jalapa, Guatemala.

The method of replacing disqualified teams also was approved. Three Caribbean teams advance to the Champions League through a regional tournament and therefore any replacement would be the fourth-place finisher. If any of the 12 qualified Central American teams are precluded, it would be supplanted by a club from Honduras based on results from this year’s Champions League.

Other Champions League news included the quarterfinal draw being set for December 10, when each group winner will be paired against a group runner-up for the two-leg knockout round set for February 24-26 and March 3-5.

The board also decided to review its qualifying procedures for the men’s U-17 and U-20 championships beginning in 2011. The present system has both Central America and the Caribbean staging separate qualifying tournaments to determine two berths each in the eight-team championship, and then having one team from each region play off to determine a fifth place. The three North American teams: Canada, Mexico and the United States, qualify automatically.

The matter was sent to the youth committee to devise specific proposals.

Additionally, the committee was informed that the six teams advancing to the final round of World Cup qualifying will learn their match schedule during a draw to be staged November 22 in South Africa in conjunction with the FIFA Confederations Cup draw. The United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador already have clinched their places in the “hexagonal” with the remaining three places to be decided November 19.

The board also heard that seminars run by CONCACAF in cooperation with FIFA to improve administration, refereeing and coaching increased dramatically this year. Forty-four courses will be conducted by the end of the year, up from the 10 in 2007.

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