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

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - SPORT - BY SEAN A WIL­LIAMS

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.

(Photo: Ob­server file)

MON­TAGLIANI (right)... 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

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