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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

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).'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 (, 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).

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).

Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala has "failed to pay" a €1.6M ($2.1M) transfer debt to a player agency despite being ordered to by three different courts in Switzerland, according to the AP. The oligarch-owned team, which includes "the world's highest-paid player" in Samuel Eto'o, has earned €1.8M ($2.3M) in UEFA bonuses from the Europa League this season. The player agency owed the money is Portugal's Onsoccer agency. It is seeking to have Anzhi's allocation "seized under a civil court order." The AP contacted Anzhi officials, but the team declined to comment (AP, 10/25).

The final draw for the 2013 African Cup of Nations Wendesday revealed that host South Africa will play Cape Verde in the opening game, according to the AP. Ivory Coast and standout Didier Drogba "will be tested" by former champions Tunisia and Algeria in the group stage. Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said, "This is most certainly the group of death." Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde will open the tournament at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on Jan. 19. The venue was formerly Soccer City and the venue for the 2010 World Cup final. The five stadiums hosting games are all former World Cup venues: FNB Stadium, Moses Mabhida, Nelson Mandela Bay, Royal Bafokeng Stadium and Mbombela Stadium. The FNB will only host the opening game and the final, with the semifinals at Moses Mabhida and Mbombela. South Africa is hosting the '13 tournament in place of Libya, which lost the event "because of security concerns" (AP, 10/25).

Click here for a list of fixtures for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.