CONCACAF expands Gold Cup, plans games outside North America

The CONCACAF Gold Cup will expand from 12 to 16 teams starting in 2019, while also planning to play games outside of North America.

The regional governing body announced a new qualification process on Monday and said details would be revealed next month.

The Gold Cup is the top international tournament for CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, but each event has been contested in the United States since it was reorganized in 1991. Mexico co-hosted in 1993 and 2003, and Canada hosted two games in 2015.

But CONCACAF said it would be "exploring a pan-regional footprint" that included the "possibility of games in Central America and the Caribbean.

"By widening access to these important tournaments for more of our member associations, we work towards our goal of ensuring that the football produced in the CONCACAF region is of the highest quality in the world," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said in a statement.

The move follows increased success from CONCACAF countries beyond the the U.S. and Mexico. Panama recently qualified for its first World Cup, while Honduras also finished above the U.S. in qualifying before falling to Australia in an intercontinental playoff.

Jamaica has reached two consecutive Gold Cup finals, losing to Mexico in 2015 and the U.S. last summer.