The CONCACAF Gold Cup has recently concluded with the rising force USA once again stamping their authority, led by Jesus Ferreira, as a changing of the guard occurs in the continent. Mexico have been the historic dominant giants, but USA won last time and a repeat in 2023 would put them level with Mexico at eight wins each. So, what is the Gold Cup, and what is an Asian team, Qatar, doing in the tournament?
Here are all the details-
What is the Gold Cup?
Just like Euros happen in Europe, Copa America is for South American countries, and so on, the Gold Cup is the tournament equivalent for North America, Central America, and Caribbean teams.
All the teams that are governed by CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) take part in this 16-team tournament.
Gold Cup is the highest international honour that CONCACAF teams fight for.
It is held every two years and the USA have hosted it continuously since 1991 because of the profitability there.
Mexico have won the competition the most times with eight victories. USA are second with seven and Canada have won once.
These three are the only teams to have won the tournament in its history.
USA were the inaugural Gold Cup champions in 1991 but since 2011, the trophy has alternated between Mexico and the USA.
However, teams like Brazil, Colombia, and now Qatar have taken part in the tournament despite being from a different federation.
Why are Qatar in the Gold Cup?
Qatar were a part of the 2021 Gold Cup and remain so in 2023 as part of a partnership between the CONCACAF and the Qatar Football Association.
The announcement was made back in 2020 about their participation in these two editions.
Qatar’s participation in 2021 broke a 16-year hiatus where Gold Cup only consisted of teams under CONCACAF.
The 2005 edition was the last one before 2021 when guests were invited. Colombia from CONMEBOL reached the semifinals then and South Africa from CAF reached the quarterfinals.
Besides Brazil, Colombia, and South Africa, Ecuador, Peru and South Korea have also appeared in the Gold Cup.
Qatar’s performance in both editions has been encouraging as well. The Asian side reached the semifinal in 2021 and got eliminated in the quarters in the 2023 season.
Before FIFA Confederation Cup was abolished in 2017, the winner of the Gold Cup represented CONMEBOL in the tournament.