As an outsider looking in, I have to admit, I don’t get the Gold Cup.
The tournament has the potential to be a great thing, but seems to be nothing more than a shambles.
It should at least have importance and pride and place in the CONCACAF calendar, but it doesn’t give off that impression either.
We discussed some of our feelings about the Gold Cup in the blog before (July 5th) and as this year’s tournament goes on, it just causes us more bewilderment.
Where to start?
Well to recap, there’s the under-strength teams, with many sides just bringing their B sides to the tournament and at best A minus. Then there’s the fact it’s being played slap bang in the middle of a World Cup qualifying campaign. Then there’s the whole “why is it played every two years argument?”.
I can now add some things to the above.
As kind of a non CONCACAF neutral, apart from wanting Canada to do well and win the Cup, I was a little slow in getting into things. Then Canada got into the winning habit and started playing good football and I was excited by the whole idea and started to take an interest in the tournament and the other games being played.
Then, just as my excitement was peaking what happens? The group games finish and there’s a huge six day wait before the quarter finals began and Canada had an eight day break.
I can only assume this is for maximum TV coverage from the likes of the US in particular – in other words, keep the games at the weekends or no one will watch. Not only on TV but in the stadiums it seems.
But come on, when you’re trying to grow the enthusiasm for the game amongst the general population of some members of the region, and especially in their media, such a long break is just not on. It completely kills any buzz and momentum the viewing public have been building up.
Then take a look at the quarter finals. A major international tournament that features Panama, Haiti and Guadeloupe in the last eight! I had to look up an atlas to see where the hell the latter was.
Another bewildering puzzle for us is that domestic action continues, forcing players to choose between Club and country and by the looks of it, the Clubs are winning. The likes of the MLS is seen as more important to some players than representing their country at international level and it’s more than one country that is affected.
I can’t finish this rant without mentionining the officiating. It’s been a long running “joke” amongst Canadian fans I know that the refereeing in the region doesn’t favour them for a number of reasons. Chip on the shoulder, Old Firm style paranoia I hear you say. Well I thought so too.
When so many people start telling you that they expect Canada to lose their quarter final against Honduras to a dodgy penalty and then that’s exactly what happens, it does make you wonder and it does start to devalue the integrity of proceedings.
The penalty in question was so farcical that you just have to shake your head. Find it on You Tube. Watch it dozens of times and still try and see where any infraction took place.
I recently found out that the Gold Cup carries triple FIFA ranking points, so with Canada having no competitive international fixtures for two years now, this is the only way they can keep their place in the rankings. That would explain the whole two year things.
It also explains a lot of the inflated rankings we see for other teams from the region.
There’s so many things that could make the Gold Cup the international showcase it should be but I can’t see any changes any time soon.