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CONCACAF expands Gold Cup to 16 teams, explores multi-nation hosting setup

Significant changes are coming to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

CONCACAF announced on Monday that the regional championship tournament will expand to 16 teams starting in 2019, its next edition. The confederation also revealed that it is “exploring a pan-regional footprint” for next year’s event, meaning that matches could be played in Central America and the Caribbean, which in CONCACAF’s words would “fulfill a long-term aspiration” for member nations in those regions.

The qualifying process for the expanded Gold Cup will be revealed at the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League launch event on March 7 in Miami Beach, Florida, while the process and criteria for host sites will be outlined by CONCACAF “in the coming months.”

“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 in a press release.

“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.”

Since the tournament was first played in 1991, the lion’s share of Gold Cup action has taken place in the United States apart from matches held in Mexico in 1993 and 2003 and in Canada in 2015. The US national team are the current reigning champions.