By Samindra Kunti
February 20 – Concacaf has reacted swiftly to reject comments made by U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro that the future of the regional confederation’s Gold Cup was in in doubt.
In a statement the governing body strongly reasserted its commitment to the confederation’s tournament, saying the 2023 edition is already a part of FIFA’s calendar.
Speaking at the USSF’s Annual General Meeting, Cordeiro had claimed that not only the FIFA Confederations Cup was to be shuttered, but that the Gold Cup, Concacaf’s marquee tournament, could possibly suffer a similar fate. “The Gold Cup is only legislated for this year and 2021, so it could go on but it may not happen,” said Cordeiro.
His remarks undermine a competition that has worked hard to raise its profile both amongst football fans and commercially, and should be the confederation’s major income generator for funding football development across the region, as well as providing the opportunity for smaller nations to play in competitive championships against the region’s top teams.
Cordeiro took over at the top of the USSF last year. His comments were made more remarkable considering the battle fought by the confederation and the USSF in particular under then president Sunil Gulati, to get the championship played – and very successfully so – in 2015 following the US Justice Department’s indictments that rocked the region and for a time brought the confederation to a standstill.
It is currently a very different looking confederation and its statement on Cordeiro’s comments emphasised that it expected to continue to run its premium men’s national team championship.
“Concacaf clarifies that it is fully committed to the Concacaf Gold Cup and confirms that the 2019, 2021 and 2023 editions are part of the FIFA calendar,” read the statement. “Additionally, once the new FIFA calendar is produced after 2023, CONCACAF will continue organizing the pinnacle event of our confederation.”
The statement also seemed to rule out that a revamped Copa America could replace the Gold Cup in the future. Concacaf and Conmebol have had discussion on jointly staging the world’s oldest continental tournament, similar to the centenary 2016 edition in the US, but those talks have not progressed. Cordeiro said that the two confederations “haven’t been able to come to an agreement on that.”
This year the Gold Cup will be played in an expanded format with 16 entrants. In previous tournaments only 12 teams participated, but in a bid to have a more pan-regional footprint and bigger revenue streams Concacaf decided to expand the competition’s format. Concacaf has also expanded the staging group of games outside of the US.
The winner of the Gold Cup has provided the region’s representative for the Confederations Cup. During the last cycle, the qualification format was altered with the two most recent winners playing a one-game playoff to determine who qualified to play at the 2017 Confederations Cup. With the future of the Confederations Cup in doubt (or finished if Cordeiro is to be believed), it remains unclear if this year’s winner and the 2017 winners will still dispute that play-off.
This summer the United States, Costa Rica and a Caribbean country (to be decided in the next two weeks) will stage the tournament from June 15 to July 7. The US are the defending champions but can expect a tough challenge from Mexico and central America nations.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1561015309labto1561015309ofdlr1561015309owedi1561015309sni@o1561015309fni1561015309