Why is Qatar playing in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup?

Sports

Qatars players pose with the trophy after winning the AFC Asian Cup final match between Japan and Qatar in Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

UPDATE: After beating El Salvador in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals, Qatar will face off with the U.S. Men’s National Team for a semifinals match Thursday, July 29.

Kickoff in Austin, Texas is set for 6:30 p.m. and fans can watch on FS1, Univision or TUDN.


HOUSTON — Qatar is prepping to make their 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup debut against Panama at BBVA Stadium is Houston.

The question many fans have is: Why is a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) playing in a North American (Concacaf) tournament?

In February 2019, Concacaf and AFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding, an effort to “encourage knowledge exchange and further develop football in their respective territories.”

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.

Statement from Concacaf

Qatar was seeded into group D which includes Panama, Honduras and Grenada.

“The Maroons” are the reigning champions of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup when they defeated Japan at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 3-1. The goal they conceded was the only goal they received in the entire tournament.

Qatar was also an invited guest to the 2019 edition of the South American championship Copa America where they were eliminated in the group stage.

The nation of Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, four years before the tournament comes to the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The two confederations also have an agreement of a referee exchange program, where Concacaf and AFC referees switch spots to expand their knowledge of the game.

Qatari referee Abdulraham Al-Jassim made an appearance in the 2019 edition of the Gold Cup and Mexican referee Cesar Ramos officiated in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Qatar face Panama at 6 p.m. Central Time followed by Grenada on Saturday, July 17 and Honduras on Tuesday, July 20.

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