Continental governing body, CONCACAF, has announced Costa Rica as a host for matches in next year’s Gold Cup, marking the first time fixtures in the near two-decade old tournament will be held outside North America.
CONCACAF, which oversees football in North, Central America and the Caribbean, had previously said matches in the expanded tournament would be staged in both Central America and the Caribbean.
The Estadio Nacional in San Jose will now play host to a doubleheader on June 16, 2019, which will feature Costa Rica.
Sixteen teams – an increase of four – will compete in the 15th edition of the biennial championship which runs from June 15 to July 7.
“We are very proud to bring the CONCACAF Gold Cup to Costa Rica, where fans have shown great excitement, passion and love for our game,” said CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani.
Achieving One CONCACAF vision
“By hosting our premier competition in Central America, we are achieving a core principle of our ONE CONCACAF Vision, which is to increase access to the game, develop football and ensuring our fans experience the highest quality of football in the region.”
Costa Rica are one of the six automatic qualifiers for the Gold Cup, by virtue of their participation in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup staged in Russia.
Title-holders United States, along with Mexico, Panama, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago will also qualify directly.
The 10 remaining spots, meanwhile, will be filled through the ongoing Nations League qualifying championship.
Costa Rica’s honor
“It’s an honor for the Costa Rican Football Federation to have the confidence and support of Concacaf to host a Gold Cup group stage doubleheader in Costa Rica,” said Costa Rica Football Federation president, Rodolfo Villalobos, who is also a CONCACAF vice-president.
“This announcement is part of our efforts to transform the Federation into a highly professional entity and a benchmark at the regional level. It is part of the constant and planned efforts to grow our football. We also celebrate the opportunity Costa Ricans will have to enjoy the Gold Cup at home for the first time in its history.”
Matches, including the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, will be staged across 15 United States venues.
However, the Caribbean venue for the tournament is yet to be announced.