The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced today that the CONCACAF Gold Cup – the official national team championship of North, Central America and the Caribbean – will expand to include 16 competing nations for the upcoming 2019 edition and beyond. The Confederation is also exploring a pan-regional footprint for the 2019 Gold Cup, which would feature matches played outside the United States, including the possibility of matches in Central America and the Caribbean.
By adding more teams and exploring the possibility of new host nations, the historic 15th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, in the summer of 2019, will set highs for number of participating CONCACAF Member Associations, providing access to the highest level of international football for 16 teams and fans from a wider representation of the CONCACAF region, after the CONCACAF Council approved the initiative. The qualifying process for the 16 teams who will participate in the 2019 Gold Cup will be fully revealed at the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League launch event, on March 7 in Miami Beach.
“The expansion of the Gold Cup and the upcoming launch of the CONCACAF Nations League are key steps in delivering on the ONE CONCACAF Vision, to make the region’s most competitive football more accessible to more of our Confederation’s teams, players and fans,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani. “By widening access to these important tournaments for more of our Member Associations, we work towards our goal of ensuring that the football produced in the CONCACAF region is of the highest quality in the world.”
The biennial Gold Cup is the region’s top prize for national teams, and for over 25 years has featured top quality stars and national teams from across North America, Central America and the Caribbean, as well as invited guests from South America, Asia and Africa.
The Gold Cup has provided some of the most memorable on-field soccer moments in the region, including numerous high-intensity finals between the U.S. and Mexico, outstanding performances over the years by Caribbean nations including Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, and deep runs by countries such as Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Canada, which through strong Gold Cup performances through the decades, have taken their place among the region’s top national teams and earned world-wide recognition with qualification to FIFA World Cups. Panama, together with Costa Rica and Mexico, will represent CONCACAF in this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history.
During the more than quarter century since the Gold Cup was first played in 1991, matches have been disputed in the U.S. every edition, as well as in Canada (2015) and Mexico (1993, 2003). Next year, with matches involving more national teams to be played in multiple countries across the region, more teams and fans than ever will have the chance to experience the Gold Cup first hand.
In exploring taking tournament matches outside of North America, the 2019 edition of the Gold Cup would fulfill a long-term aspiration for Central American and Caribbean Member Associations and fans of seeing the region’s championship disputed on their home grounds. The process and criteria for selection of host sites in the CONCACAF region, will be outlined by CONCACAF in the coming months.
Taking place every two years, the CONCACAF Gold Cup has drawn large crowds and millions of television viewers from across the region. The CONCACAF Gold Cup will continue to be a celebration of soccer, sportsmanship, and culture.
CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani – Quote Sheet
On increased Caribbean participation:
“A primary objective of the ONE CONCACAF vision has been to increase access to football at the highest levels for all our Member Associations, including the Caribbean. For many Caribbean nations, the Gold Cup represents the pinnacle of national team football, and qualifying to one is the ultimate goal. This expansion brings those countries one step closer to success.”
“As of 2017, only ten of our 31 Caribbean Member Associations have played in the Gold Cup – that ratio of inclusion is not high enough for our premier championship. The expansion to 16 teams will create access to the Gold Cup for many more.”
“This expansion will open the door much more widely for Caribbean teams to participate in the Gold Cup. Qualification will be based purely on sporting merit, rather than regional quotas, so this will open the door for Caribbean teams to compete for more places overall. With 16 teams set to compete, given the number of Caribbean nations in CONCACAF, we know that Caribbean representation will be stronger than ever in 2019 and beyond.”
“Along with the soon-to-launch CONCACAF Nations League, the expanded Gold Cup will provide increased access to the region’s top-level competition for all our Member Associations. We anticipate that this increased competition will have significant developmental effects for all our Member Associations, especially those that historically have played fewer competitive matches.”
On a Caribbean and/or Central American nation potentially hosting a Gold Cup match:
“We’ve all seen the passion for the game and the spirit exemplified by fans in venues across the Caribbean and Central America. That’s a huge part of what makes football great in our region, and we want to capture that as part of the Gold Cup. Potentially staging matches from CONCACAF’s top tournament in one or both of those regions is a natural extension of that passion, and will also help pass along logistical expertise in terms of match organization and execution at the highest level.”
Central America – participation
“We have created a larger Gold Cup that will provide opportunity to teams based on sporting merit. With 16 teams participating, the window of access is wider for Central American teams.”
“Whereas in the past some very competitive Central American teams have missed out, the expanded Gold Cup will open the door wider for participation of Central America’s up-and-coming nations to participate on a more regular basis, continuing the on-going process of development in the region.”
“If you look at a team like Panama, which has now qualified for its first World Cup in 2018, so much of their national team success can be traced to progress and accomplishments obtained over the last 20 years in the Gold Cup. That’s the essence of why opening access to the Gold Cup is so important to CONCACAF – participation over time consolidates growth and provides a platform for teams to become even more competitive.”