Sports

Expanded Gold Cup promises opportunities for Caribbean, Central America — Montagliani

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Friday, December 07, 2018

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With Central America and the Caribbean set to host Concacaf Gold Cup matches for the first time, the expansion is expected to bring with it varied benefits to the regions.

For the 2019 edition of the confederation's marquee competition, there will be an increase from 12 teams to 16. But more importantly, countries in the Caribbean and Central American zones will host matches in keeping with a promise made by Concacaf President Victor Montagliani.

Costa Rica has already been announced as the Central American host, while the Caribbean host is yet to be named.

A double-header will be staged at the Estadio Nacional in San José on June 16, which will feature the host nation Costa Rica.

Next year's tournament will be the 15th edition of the biennial championship, which runs from June 15 to July 7.

“The increase in the Gold Cup was not only a promise, but we delivered on it… obviously Central America is very happy to host, and that is basically a continuation of our One Concacaf Vision, which is more than just a vision, but the implementation of that vision and delivering on it,” Montagliani told the Jamaica Observer recently.

The Canadian businessman, who campaigned for the presidency some two years ago on his One Concacaf Vision manifesto which today shapes in large measure the foundation of the administration — expects the football landscape in Costa Rica and the Caribbean to be positively impacted by hosting of Gold Cup matches.

“When we saw the reaction of Costa Rica, where the president of the country was there at the unveiling — and what this shows is what it means to a country to host the Gold Cup, and I know that Costa Rica is very excited about it, from the taxi driver all the way up to the president of the country, so you see how an event like the Gold Cup motivates the country,” noted Montagliani.

“One of the key pillars of the One Concacaf Vision is accessibility… it's great to talk about development, but what we have started to do is to give everyone access and opportunity at all facets of the business of football, and I think that is one of our key success stories,” he added.

Montagliani, who is also a Fifa vice-president, argues that the money-spinning Gold Cup coming to the two regions for the first time may create an awakening of potential investors in the possibilities.

“Obviously this event cannot be put on by the federation alone, but with the key stakeholders in the country. Obviously the federation needs to work with all levels of government, the corporate sector, and I think this is also an opportunity in areas such as Costa Rica and the Caribbean to wake up some of our stakeholders. And I think the Gold Cup is a great leverage for our members to get out and about in the community and start to galvanise support.

“Obviously this will not only be a legacy, but hopefully ensure the sustainability of the game going forward,” said Montagliani.

While the criteria for hosting the top-flight international tournament are high-reaching, Montagliani believes it's a great opportunity for new hosts to raise their game.

“The criteria and the processes involve stadia, accommodation, security, working with all levels of government, airports in and out of them, and the Caribbean will follow the same criteria.

“Obviously we are cognisant that the Concacaf standards we have are quite high for the Gold Cup and Champions League, but we realise that we have to be realistic and also to push in getting some of our membership to reach that, so there is a bit of development and opportunity here as well,” Montagliani noted.

The expanded Gold Cup means Concacaf will have to reach further into its coffers and tap deeper into its other resources, but as Montagliani puts it: “You have to spend money to make money.”

“Our administration has been very prudent… and we are very strategic with our investments in all facets of our organisation.

“We have to increase in our markets and we have to develop our markets in the Caribbean and Central America, and even in the north… our business 20 years from now will be healthier than it was 20 years ago, than it was two years ago and what it is now,” he ended.

Since its inception, the Gold Cup has only been held in North America.

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