The CONCACAF Gold Cup™ is the biennial nations championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean, and is the confederation's premier event. The Gold Cup evolved from a series of championships in the region dating back to 1941. It began in its current structure in 1991. At times, the CONCACAF championship also served as a qualifier for the World Cup, but since its inception, the Gold Cup has been an independent championship irrespective of other tournaments. However, once every four years, the winner of the Gold Cup serves as the region's entrant to the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Initially an eight-team event, the Gold Cup finals have grown into a 12-nation championship with countries qualifying from the three regions of CONCACAF, North America, Central America (UNCAF) and the Caribbean (Caribbean Football Union). The tournament features the best players from the region, and between 1996- 2005 included guest teams from South America, Africa and Asia. Mexico has won the most titles, five, one more than the United States. Canada claimed the remaining crown. From a relatively modest 40,000 that witnessed the first Gold Cup final at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1991, when the United States outlasted Honduras on penalties 4:3, the Gold Cup has grown to the region's most anticipated soccer event, routinely drawing a capacity crowds.

THE EARLY YEARS

Prior to the formation of CONCACAF, football in the region was divided into smaller, regional divisions. Two main bodies existed: the Confederación Centroamericana y del Caribe de Fútbol (CCCF) founded in 1938 and the North American Football Confederation (NAFC) founded in 1946.

The CCCF held 10 championships from 1941-1961, Costa Rica winning seven (1941, '46, '48, '53, '55, '60, '61).