Miami - The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) today announced that the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship 2015 will be played in the United States from October 1-13 of this year.
The Olympic Qualifying Championship 2015 -- an under-23 competition -- will send two teams directly to the Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016, with a third nation earning the right to face South American Olympic qualifying runner-up Colombia in a playoff for one additional spot in Rio. All participating nations will be hoping to replicate the success of the Confederation at the 2012 London Olympic Games, where CONCACAF nation Mexico took home the gold medal from the men's football competition.
"The Olympic Qualifying Championship provides an ideal stage for CONCACAF nations to demonstrate the bright future the Confederation holds on the field," said CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. "We look forward to some great soccer as the competing nations strive to match our historic Olympic performances three years ago in England, from Honduras and of course Mexico -- 2012 Olympic Champion."
This year's tournament will feature eight nations divided into two groups of four, with the top two finishers in each group after round-robin play advancing to the semifinals. Host venues and ticketing information for the competition will be announced in the near future.
“We are looking forward to hosting the Olympic Qualifying Championship and showcasing the quality of soccer in the region,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “The Olympics hold a special place in the hearts of all Americans and this is a great opportunity to see these young athletes from across North, Central America and the Caribbean compete for the opportunity to reach their goal of playing in the Olympic Games.”
The 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship will include host USA, as well as North American automatic qualifiers Canada and Mexico. Those three countries will be joined by three nations from the Central American region and two from the Caribbean, with qualifiers in those regions to be disputed in coming months.
The CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship USA 2015 kicks off on October 1, with group play continuing through October 7. The final match day for both groups, as well as the semifinal date, third-place match and the final, all fall within the FIFA match date window scheduled for October 5-13, 2015, meaning all nations will be able to call on their top under-23 players worldwide for the decisive phase of the championship, should they choose to do so.
The final tournament schedule and kick-off times will be set following the qualifying tournaments in Central America and the Caribbean. The United States also hosted the previous CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, in 2012, when matches were hosted in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Nashville.