The off-year Gold Cup is a thing of the past, as every winner of CONCACAF's biennial competition will have a chance to qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
This summer's competition winner will enter a one-game playoff against the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup for the right to represent the region at the FIFA Confederations Cup, CONCACAF announced on Friday. The change alters the nature of the off-year Gold Cup, in which the winner essentially earns bragging rights and little more.
For example, the U.S. cemented a berth in the 2009 Confederations Cup -- the tournament featuring regional champions from around the world, the defending World Cup champion and incumbent World Cup host -- by winning the 2007 Gold Cup, but Mexico earned nothing for winning the 2009 Gold Cup.
Mexico, winner of the 2011 Gold Cup, will represent the region at this summer's Confederations Cup and was drawn into a group with host Brazil, Japan and Italy. It was previously thought that this summer's competition would have nothing on the line, but the new rule change has altered that considerably.
“This novel CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff format for the FIFA Confederations Cup is an essential and perhaps long due adjustment required to enhance the crown jewel of national team competitions within our Confederation," CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said in a statement. “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."
The one-game playoff between the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cup winners will take place later in 2015 at a to-be-determined site. Should a nation win both Gold Cups, it would seal automatic qualification to the 2017 Confederations Cup.