The Concacaf Governing Body has Serious Issues that Need Addressing
As long as players, officials and fans fail to be properly monitored and disciplined for unsavory actions, Concacaf will continue to bear its unpleasant reputation.
Updated: June 23, 2018 • 1:10 PM ET
The USMNT has had plenty of success in the Gold Cup.
A year ago, the USMNT was preparing for the Gold Cup, the Concacaf tournament that has only once seen a country other than the U.S. or Mexico raise the Cup. The Gold Cup is considered an important tournament for those involved in Concacaf, but for the rest of the world, it fails in comparison to the level of play we see in UEFA. And after last year’s Gold Cup, perhaps Concacaf could learn a thing or two from UEFA.
We are still a year removed from the next Gold Cup, where the U.S. will fight to defend its title, while Mexico attempts to snatch victory once more after their failure last year. And with all the buzz of the World Cup, it’s only become much more imperative that Concacaf has a lot of work to do to fix some of the major issues that have arisen under their watch.
The first big issue is that Concacaf needs to wrangle in rowdy fans. This isn’t something new, as fans throughout Concacaf have shown poor sportsmanship and overly aggressive behavior.
During a match between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago in the 2015 Gold Cup, Mexican fans began throwing trash and beer bottles at the Trinidadian players. During a match between Mexico and Chile in the 2016 Copa America, Mexican fans were once again seen throwing trash at players. In fact, Mexico has a reputation of being overly aggressive towards opposing fans (to put it mildly), showering trash and even urine at others. Yet, Concacaf has done virtually nothing to punish this rowdy behavior. Should there not be repercussions for Mexican fans poor behavior?
I know it sounds like I’m picking on Mexico, but they are the biggest team in Concacaf. There’s hardly a stadium in North and Central America where a game can be played without an abundance of Mexican fans in attendance. But they aren’t the only ones; Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and El Salvador have all had incidents of abhorrent sportsmanship, ranging from simply booing the national anthem to full on assault of opposing fans.
I understand that football/soccer is a passionate game, especially in certain parts of the world, but that doesn’t atone for despicable behavior. Even worse, as the overseers of play in North America, Concacaf has done nothing to prevent this behavior from getting out of hand again. Whereas in UEFA, such actions would be swiftly penalized by the federation, leading to either games being played in empty stadiums or a fine.
But Concacaf’s problems go beyond simply standing idly by while disruptive fans disgrace themselves and their countries. Another big issue Concacaf faces is poor officiating that sometimes impacts the outcome of matches. But the biggest issue facing Concacaf is that it is often accused of corruption.
In 2015, controversy erupted after Mexico defeated Costa Rica in overtime, when Mexico was awarded a penalty kick in the 121st minute that sealed the game for them. Many critics argue that not only was there no penalty on Oribe Peralta, but that he was an offending player who should have been sent off for a red card during a previous play.
Following that match, Mexico played Panama, where Panamanian player Luis Tejada (arguably one of Panama’s strongest scorers) was sent off with a controversial red card in the first half. Yet, despite playing down a player, Panama still managed to score and take the lead, which was met with Mexico fans throwing trash on them as they had done earlier in the tournament against Trinidad. Yet, once again, there was no penalty exhibited towards Mexico fans’ despicable behavior.
With Panama on the verge of victory, Mexico seemingly was once again awarded with a life-saving penalty kick. Mexico ultimately won in overtime after being awarded another foul, though this time was more legitimate.
After the match, the Panamanian Football Federation took to the podium to declare Concacaf corruption and favoritism towards Mexico. Though it’s hard to prove Concacaf deliberately colluded with officials to secure a Mexican victory in both matches, the outcome of the matches were undoubtedly determined by horrendous officiating.
Despite years of outrage and criticism, Concacaf is complacent in the status quo. As an organization, Concacaf should work to improve the standards of play and ensure the best possible product that all fans can enjoy. Concacaf has an obligation to its players to ensure their safety and that they should not have to tolerate a barrage of garbage thrown.
Not only should something be done, something has to be done.
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