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Concacaf gives major boost to Gold Cup with new format and first ever draw

 Concacaf has announced an exciting new format for the 2021 edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup, and the introduction of a first ever draw for the prestigious regional tournament. The new set-up for Concacaf’s flagship competition will include a Preliminary Round prior to the 16 team Group Stage. The Preliminary Round will include 12 Member Associations competing for the final three spots in the Group Stage. It will be played as a direct elimination format, from July 2nd to July 6th, in a centralized location in the United States.

Additionally, a major change to the Knockout Phase, which follows the Group Stage, will see teams on opposite sides of the bracket meet from the Quarterfinals onwards. In previous Gold Cups, teams have only competed against opponents on the same side of the bracket until the Final. This change will provide more unpredictability and excitement to the competition, which was expanded from 12 to 16 teams for a hugely successful 2019 edition.
As part of the Confederation’s focus on continuing to deliver a football first philosophy, and to add more anticipation for fans across the region, a first ever Gold Cup draw will take place on September 28th, 2020. Both the Preliminary Round and the Group Stage will be drawn at the event, further details for which will follow in the coming weeks. An initial 12 teams booked their place in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage, which will commence on July 10th, 2021, through their performances in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League (CNL).

They include the winners and runners-up in CNL League A groups, and the winners of CNL League B groups, including Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Suriname and USA. The 12 teams will be joined in the group stage by AFC Asian Cup Champions, Qatar, who will compete as a guest as part of a major collaboration between Concacaf and the host country of the FIFA World Cup 2022™️. Gold Cup Preliminary Round. 

The Preliminary Round will comprise the 12 national teams who qualified through their CNL performances, including the third placed teams from League A groups, the second placed teams from League B groups, and the winners of League C groups. Those teams are Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.  After a knockout format involving the 12 national teams, the remaining three teams at the end of the Preliminary Round will qualify for the Gold Cup Group Stage. Concacaf partnership with Qatar Football Association and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Concacaf and the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) longstanding relationship, which was formalized through a Memorandum of. Understanding (MOU) signed in May 2017, has resulted in various joint initiatives which have served to greatly develop football in both regions. 

The MOU established a framework for strong collaboration between both Confederations and paved the way for a strategic partnership between Concacaf, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organization charged with delivering the infrastructure and operations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️. 
This partnership will bring huge benefits to all levels of the game across the entire region. It will also provide a strong link, and multiple knowledge sharing opportunities, between the organizing bodies of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ and the FIFA World Cup 2026™️, which will take place in the Concacaf region. 

The partnership includes the Qatar National Team competing as a guest in the 2021 and 2023 Gold Cups. The Qatar team is the current regional champion, having won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Additionally, the team participated in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, providing strong opposition for South American national teams in the group stage. Qatar will be the second AFC national team to compete as a guest in the Gold Cup, following South Korea who played in the 2000 and 2002 editions

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