Centennial Copa America in 2016 lining up in U.S.

Posted by Roberto Abramowitz

Back in October of 2012, Nicolas Leoz, then the president of the South American soccer confederation known as CONMEBOL, announced that the Centenary Copa America would be held in the U.S. in a special tournament with all 10 of CONMEBOL's member countries plus six CONCACAF nations.

Except there was one important detail CONMEBOL had left out while making the very splashy announcement. Neither CONCACAF -- which represents the North and Central American and Caribbean soccer nations -- nor U.S. Soccer was on board.

But according to new CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, things have changed, and they have changed dramatically: "There have been a lot of discussions over the last year," Webb told me exclusively. "We’re looking at 2016, which would be the centennial year for the Copa America."

The tournament was originally known as the South American Championships and didn't change its name to Copa America until the 1975 tournament. In 1993 it grew to a 12-nation tourney when it invited Mexico and the United States as guests. Mexico lost the final to Argentina that year and has been a permanent invitee ever since. The U.S. has participated three times and was a fourth-place finisher in 1995.

If the Centennial Copa America becomes a done deal, it would ease the sting of the U.S. losing out to Qatar in the competition to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And things are moving in the right direction according to Webb, who became the CONCACAF president a year ago, replacing the disgraced Jack Warner, who stepped down amid allegations of widespread corruption.

"There is great synergy between both confederations," Webb explained. "Hopefully both confederations will have a final agreement and we will have a great Centennial Copa America."

The tournament -- as announced last year -- would include all 10 nations from CONMEBOL, among them perennial powers Brazil and Argentina. CONCACAF would field six teams. The U.S. and Mexico would get automatic spots while the other four teams would get invitations based on their standings in the 2015 Gold Cup, which is CONCACAF’s biennial national team competition.


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