Concacaf evens out rewards for winners

[GOLD CUP] No longer will the Gold Cup champion be a lame-duck winner every other year. Concacaf has announced that this year’s winner will enter a playoff for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup. Its opponent will be the 2015 Gold Cup champion in a format that gives the biannual competitions equal value as a regional championship.

Previously, one competition took priority over the other in determining the Concacaf representative for the Confederations Cup, which is held every four years as a prelude to the World Cup and matches up the winners of the regional competitions. Under the new format, the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cup winners will square off at a site to be determined.

The move is expected to ramp up interest in the Gold Cup. According to Concacaf, ticket sales for the 2013 edition – three months prior to the start of play – are ahead of where they were two years ago for the 2011 competition. Cumulative ticket sales of more than 600,000 were registered for the 13 match days in 2011, including nine sellouts.

“This innovative resolution will allow the champion of every single Gold Cup edition to have the same competitive opportunity to represent Concacaf at the international level,” said president Jeffrey Webb in a statement announcing the changes.

If the same nation wins both the 2013 and 2015 competitions – as was the case when Mexico triumphed in 2009 and 2011 – it qualifies automatically for the 2017 Confederations Cup. If a playoff is needed it will be held in the second half of 2015.

The 2013 Gold Cup kicks off July 7 in the Rose Bowl and concludes July 28 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The 12 entrants have been drawn into three groups, with Mexico heading Group A, Honduras the top seed in Group B, and host USA in Group C.

FOX Sports Media Group, for the first time, is televising all 25 matches of the event. Spanish-language broadcast partner Univision will cover the entire tournament on its platforms, and Fútbol de Primera will carry Spanish-language radio broadcasts on its system of more than 100 affiliates.

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