Jamaica to host Gold Cup matches
For the first time in Caribbean football history, a country within the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) will be hosting the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, this after Concacaf president, Victor Montagliani, disclosed at a press conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday that the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, would be the venue for a Group C double-header schedule for June 17.
Although the fixtures are still to be finalised, Jamaica will play either Honduras (the seeded team in the group) or one of two other teams that will be selected to the group at the Gold Cup draw in Los Angeles next Tuesday. However, JFF president, Michael Ricketts, believes this is a milestone and a historic acheivement for his administration.
"This is historic and the JFF intend on changing the entire landscape of football. In 2018 for the first time, we were able to host a FIFA summit. We were able to produce a women's team that qualified for a global tournament, no ordinary achievement, and two weeks ago we opened the brand new Captain Burrell/UWI Technical centre. But today, April 2, is the greatest of all achievements as Jamaica for the first time, at last, will be hosting a Gold Cup game.
"We are very excited by the prospect of what we can achieve after this Gold Cup, but I have always insisted that this JFF has one item on it's agenda and that is to grow the sport of football. This will give us international exposure as it is the first a Gold Cup game will be played in the Caribbean. But Jamaica being chosen means we are recognised around the region and we want to keep that respect and grow football," he commented.
Montagliani admitted that it was difficult to get the games for Jamaica but the country's past acheivements internationally and regionally played a vital role.
"CONCACAF thought there is enough quality in the region to increase the Gold Cup to 16 teams. We saw some results in the last Gold Cup and what is happening in the nation's league and some of the teams that qualified for the Gold Cup for the first time. But events that build capacity are the biggest events where you get international attention, commercial partners and business sector involvement. But it was important to bring the Gold Cup to the Caribbean and Central America.
Jamaica's long history
We needed to bring it to the region. But we were looking for someone that qualified and we all know Jamaica's long history, not only in the region but in the world, so it was a natural fit," he said.
He added : "This is the first time in the tournament's history that matches are being played here in the Caribbean. This is truly a watershed moment for football in the Caribbean, for CONCACAF and for Jamaica. The National Stadium will be a stage for the biggest football competition in our region and this summer's Gold Cup will be the biggest with 16 countries vying for the glory for our region. So congrats to the JFF for hosting these matches. We hope it will be a tremendous success and an extra celebration of good football by the Reggae Boyz."
Pearnel Charles Jr, who represented the Government in the absence of Minister of Sports, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, said it is turning out to be a 'golden year' for Jamaica's football.
"2019 is turning out to be a golden year for Jamaica in terms of football. Now to hear the news that the president of CONCACAF has given to us for the first time in 15 editions, the hosting of the Gold Cup championship is great. I truely believe that in 2019, with our Reggae Girlz and the Gold Cup championship, it will turn out to be a year where hundreds of our football fans will be revelling in top-class football that will be played here in Jamaica. So I want to thank president Ricketts and all those who helped us to receive this accolade and we intend to make the most of it," he said.