MIAMI, CMC – Continental governing body, CONCACAF, will expand the Gold Cup to 16 teams starting next year, and are also considering hosting matches outside of North America for the first time.
Twelve teams usually compete in the biennial competition, which serves as the confederation championship, with four teams installed in four groups at the preliminary stage.
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said the new initiative was aimed at making the tournament more inclusive.
“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,” Montagliani said.
“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.”
As it stands, the Caribbean Football Union has four automatic spots at the Gold Cup, determined by the four semi-finalists in the Caribbean Cup.
Last year, CFU was represented by Jamaica, Martinique, Curacao and French Guiana.
Since the inception of the Gold Cup in 1991, every tournament has been played in the United States, though matches were held in Toronto during the 2015 edition. However, with the new proposal, CONCACAF said matches could now be played in Central America and the Caribbean.
“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,” a CONCACAF statement said.
Regional powerhouses Jamaica have been losing finalists for the last two Gold Cups.