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SBD Global/October 26, 2012/International Football

CONMEBOL Will Stage 2016 Copa America In U.S. To Commemorate 100th Anniversary

A special Copa América in '16 to celebrate the organization's 100th anniversary -- named Copa América Centenário and staged in the U.S. -- was unveiled by South America's football governing body CONMEBOL. A total of 16 teams will participate, the 10 from South America, and six from CONCACAF. Out of the six CONCACAF teams, the U.S. and Mexico are the only two guaranteed a spot in the event. The other four will come from their rankings in the CONCACAF Gold Cup (CONMEBOL). MLSSOCCER.com's Simon Borg noted that the announcement came after CONMEBOL "held a five hour meeting on Wednesday in Buenos Aires," Argentina. The presidents of the 10 national federations joined CONMEBOL's exec committee to "lay down the framework" of the tournament (MLSSOCCER.com, 10/24). In Madrid, Jorge Sanz Casillas wrote that with 16 teams in the tournament, "the format will resemble much more the one utilized for the Euro." In other news, CONMEBOL revealed that both Mexico and Japan will be invited to the 2013 Copa América in Chile. Japan also took part in the '99 edition where it failed to make it out of the group stage (EL MUNDO, 10/25).

A COUP FOR U.S.:
In N.Y., Grant Wahl opined that the tournament would be "the biggest" men's football tournament on U.S. soil since the 1994 World Cup. The event "would be fantastic, selling out 80,000-seat stadiums, drawing nine-figure global TV audiences and bringing together a constellation of stars" that would potentially include Argentina's Lionel Messi, Brazil's Neymar and Colombia's Radamel Falcao. It would also make for a "glorious summer" of football, with Euro 2016 taking place in June and the special Copa América in July. However, Wahl also opined that CONMEBOL "jumped the gun" on the announcement. Discussions between the three big organizations (CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer) involved in the potential tournament have taken place, but "there remain some issues" that have yet to be settled:
  • Would FIFA approve such an event? This is key as clubs are only required to release their players to national teams if the event is listed on the official FIFA calendar. So far FIFA has made no announcement.
  • Would the football federations of the countries involved send their best squads to the event? There is "little point in staging this tournament if all nations don't bring their top teams."
  • U.S. Soccer has yet to sign off on staging the event, a "somewhat important fact if you're being publicized as the host."
  • How would the economic agreements function? CONMEBOL and CONCACAF have yet to sign anything on how revenues from the tournament would be split.

Even with those concerns, Wahl expects that the 2016 Copa América on U.S. soil will take place as there is "too much upside" for football in "this part of the world for it not to happen" (SI, 10/25).

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