The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has selected Orlando’s Exploria Stadium to be the hub venue for the conclusion of its 2020 Champions League season.
The announcement comes after CONCACAF last week decided to host the seven outstanding Champions League games – quarter-finals, semi-finals and final – behind closed doors in an unconfirmed centralised location in the US in December.
The 2020 season of CONCACAF’s flagship club competition was postponed in March, at the quarter-final stage, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploria Stadium, home to Major League Soccer (MLS) club Orlando City SC and the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL’s) Orlando Pride, will now host the finale of this season’s event from December 15-22.
Through the introduction of an adjusted format with single leg ties in a neutral venue, the 2020 Champions League will be concluded after a total of seven games to crown a champion. CONCACAF said that as a modern stadium built in 2017, Exploria Stadium provides “excellent services” for broadcasters which will allow the governing body and clubs to produce a world class production for fans watching at home.
To resume the competition, CONCACAF has developed extensive new regulations to ensure the delivery of a safe and highly controlled environment for all the players, coaches, team staff and officials who will participate. These include a high-frequency COVID-19 testing regime before and during the competition, and robust health and safety protocols which will be strictly applied.
CONCACAF will work with Exploria Stadium to ensure the health and safety measures it currently operates for Orlando City SC games are in place for the centralised Champions League matches. “The Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League is our flagship club competition and a huge amount of work has gone into ensuring we can safely resume the tournament, and crown a regional club champion in 2020,” said CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani.
“Orlando’s Exploria Stadium will provide a great host venue for the final seven matches of this competition.”
Orlando City SC CEO, Alex Leitão, added: “This year, the ‘City Beautiful’ has proven to be the centre of sport — hosting some of the world’s biggest events — and we are humbled to be able to host another such event at our home. We’re looking forward to seven very exciting games.”
Earlier this year, the final three rounds of Europe’s UEFA Champions League were played out at two stadiums in Lisbon, Portugal, after being postponed for four months due to the pandemic.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been using Qatar as a hub for its Champions League and last month confirmed Doha as the venue for this year’s single-leg final, which will be held on December 19.