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Concacaf Gold Cup

Gold Cup 2021: Why are Qatar playing in North American tournament?

19:15 BST 12/07/2021
Qatar 2021
Here's what you need to know about why the AFC team and 2022 World Cup hosts are playing in this summer's Gold Cup tournament

Despite not being members of the North American football confederation, Qatar are a participating team in this year's edition of the Gold Cup for the first time in tournament history as a "guest team".

Sixteen teams are involved in the competition – with Qatar the only non-Concacaf side to be included.

So how come Qatar are playing in the Gold Cup this summer? Goal takes a look.

Why is Qatar playing in the 2021 Gold Cup?

The decision to involve Qatar in the tournament stems from a relationship between Concacaf and the Qatar Football Association.

They are one of 13 teams that are currently guaranteed a spot in the 16-team group stage.

Concacaf said in a statement: "Concacaf and AFC have a longstanding relationship that has resulted in various joint initiatives which have served to greatly develop football in both regions, including a referee exchange in which referees from the AFC officiated matches in the 2019 Gold Cup and 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, while Concacaf referees oversaw matches in both the 2018 AFC Champions League and 2019 Asian Cup."

They also added that Qatar were invited as a means to develop the grassroots game: "Another facet of the relationship between Concacaf and the Qatari Football Association (QFA), along with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), is an initiative to grow the game at a grassroots level in North America, Central America and the Caribbean."

Qatar have also been invited to compete in the 2023 Gold Cup.

Previously, South Korea were invited as the Gold Cup AFC guest in 2000 and 2002 prior to their joint hosting of the World Cup.

It is Qatar's first involvement in the Gold Cup but not their first involvement as a guest in a foreign competition, as they – alongside Japan – were invited to play the 2019 Copa America to "fill gaps" in the tournament.

As there are only 10 national teams in South America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela – CONMEBOL had to invite teams from another federation to compete as a 12-team competition.

This is not the case for Qatar's involvement in the 2021 Gold Cup, however.

Full list of 2021 Gold Cup teams

Team Group
Mexico 🇲🇽 Group A
El Salvador 🇸🇻 Group A
Curacao 🇨🇼 Group A
Trinidad & Tobago 🇹🇹 Group A
United States 🇺🇸 Group B
Canada 🇨🇦 Group B
Martinique 🇲🇶 Group B
Haiti 🇭🇹 Group B
Costa Rica 🇨🇷 Group C
Jamaica 🇯🇲 Group C
Suriname 🇸🇷 Group C
Guadeloupe 🇬🇵 Group C
Honduras 🇭🇳 Group D
Panama 🇵🇦 Group D
Grenada 🇬🇩 Group D
Qatar 🇶🇦 Group D