While some might simply point to a miserable experience for anyone rooting for the USMNT as the main reason for disparaging CONCACAF after the most recent Gold Cup, the entirety of the tournament still showed that the international soccer in this region is broken…and needs fixing. Even as Mexico fans attempt to balance victory with the recent departure of their extremely expressive manager, the entirety of the area’s fan-base has to be aware that there are a host of changes that need to happen before the Gold Cup (or, even WC qualifying) rolls around again.
The issue that immediately springs to mind is the referees. Sure, there are very few decent referees at any level, but no region has given more credence to the possibility of fixed games and paid-off officials like CONCACAF. A baffling decision or two per tournament is a given, but two or three horrendous calls A GAME just screams for a readjustment. The best display of this was certainly seen in the Panama/Mexico semi-final. While social media and comment sections on websites show some viewers being blinded by fandom, the game was an atrocity. Panama should not have been reduced to 10 men, several yellow cards for simulation would have better suited the game over what actually happened, and the penalty in the dying embers of the game for an absolutely amazing defensive play (completely devoid of any penalty dictating issues) ruined the game and tainted the final.
Since refs don’t grow on trees, CONCACAF definitely needs to put more of a focus in this arena or even research what it would take to convince FIFA to allow non-CONCACAF region refs to officiate major games in the region.
The second problem is the scheduling and thought process behind several of the games for the most recent Gold Cup. A tournament as short as the Gold Cup shouldn’t span more than a few stadiums, and certainly shouldn’t have teams spending most of their off-days in airports/airplanes. The semi-final also showed some serious lack of foresight by whoever was planning the games. With the gates opening at 5 pm, the first game starting at 6, the second game starting at 9, and the high likelihood of fans imbibing a massive amount of alcohol between the gate opening and the second game, the ridiculous nature of the crowd as seen by anyone watching/attending was to be expected. Perhaps taking a cue from events with alcohol tickets to limit drunkenness…or just separating the games…is it really that hard?
There are far too many issues with CONCACAF, and the current turmoil with some of the higher ups shows that there might be some time before any problems are truly resolved. While fans want to start seeing the countries from the region compete at the highest stage, it genuinely feels like fixing some of the issues closer to home might be the best springboard to execute that…right?
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