The CONCACAF Gold Cup could expand in 2019, but beyond that its future remains in the crosshairs due to a potential combined CONCACAF-CONMEBOL competition.
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani made news Thursday by making public what has been expected for some time, that the USA, Mexico and Canada plan to submit a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup. Montagliani also lifted the lid on the future of a competition closer to home, CONCACAF's Gold Cup.
The competition, which takes place every two years and crowns the region's champion, is slated for this summer across the United States, with 12 teams set to take part. Come 2019, the competition could grow to 16 teams, Montagliani said, but beyond that, the future of the competition appears to be up in the air.
With plans for another combined Copa America between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL being discussed for 2020, as SI's Grant Wahl recently reported, Montagliani warned against schedule congestion and pondered what the Gold Cup's purpose was in the big picture in an interview with the Associated Press.
"If that is the case and we get [a combined competition] done, then we have to have a serious look—is it really tenable to have a Gold Cup?" Montagliani said. "Do we really need it (the Gold Cup)? Is it just clogging the calendar for the players?"
A sticking point for repeated combined Copa America remains getting the competition on FIFA's official international calendar, as it was in 2016, which would require clubs to release players to their national teams.
The Gold Cup currently provides CONCACAF's ticket to the FIFA Confederations Cup. If the same nation wins both Gold Cups in a given cycle, it punches its ticket to FIFA's World Cup tune-up of regional champions. If the two Gold Cups are won by different nations, a playoff determines which advances to the Confederations Cup, which is what happened in 2015 when Mexico beat the USA in extra time at the Rose Bowl in the CONCACAF Cup.