QATAR are two games away from becoming champions of North America. Yes, you read that correctly.
The 2022 World Cup hosts are taking on the United States in the semi-final of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
But what are they doing in the tournament in the first place?
Why are Qatar in the Concacaf Gold Cup?
Qatar have been doing everything possible to play games against the world’s best teams in order to prepare for hosting the 2022 World Cup.
To this end, they played as guests at the 2019 Copa America and were scheduled to do so again in the 2020 tournament, before it was postponed due to Covid.
The Qataris were also drawn as a “shadow team” in Uefa World Cup qualifying Group A, meaning they will play Portugal, Serbia, Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in friendlies.
Qatar had been set to play in the Copa America again this summer but opted for the Concacaf Gold Cup with Covid rife in South America.
Asia’s AFC and North America’s Concacaf formed a working strategic partnership in 2018 to support the growth of football in both parts of the world.
This has since been supported by refereeing exchanges and as part of the agreement it was announced in September 2020 that Qatar would appear as guests in both the 2021 and 2023 Gold Cups.
Has the Gold Cup had guests before?
Yes. Guest appearances at the Gold Cup were regular occurrences in the 90s and 2000s, but there has not been a guest side competing in the tournament since 2005.
Previous guest appearances were as follows:
- 1996: Brazil
- 1998: Brazil
- 2000: Colombia, Peru, South Korea
- 2002: Ecuador, South Korea
- 2003: Brazil, Colombia
- 2005: South Africa, Colombia
Has a team ever won a tournament outside its continent?
Only the United States, Mexico and Canada have ever won the Concacaf Gold Cup.
However, Brazil reached the final in 1996 and 2003 as did Colombia in 2000.
The only country that can be considered to have won another continent’s competition is Australia, who won the Asian Cup in 2015.
However, Australia are permanent members of the Asian Football Confederation after moving from Oceania in 2005.
Israel, a country that is in Asia, won the Asian Cup in 1964 but were then expelled from AFC in 1974 before joining Uefa.