United States to host Copa America Centenario in June 2016


CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have confirmed that the United States will host the 45th edition of the Copa America Centenario in the summer of 2016.

The tournament, marking the 100th anniversary of the inaugural 1916 tournament, will run from June 3rd through 26th and will mark the first time the Copa America is played outside of South America.

As reported by Pro Soccer Talk’s Nicholas Mendola last month and again last Monday via MLSSoccer.com, this “historic announcement” will feature 10 nations of CONMEBOL (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) plus the United States, Mexico and four other CONCACAF nations.

The two CONCACAF nations joining the USMNT and El Tri will be decided by two of the four semifinalists from the 2015 Gold Cup. The Copa America will also run in 2015 with Chile hosting, and 2019 with Brazil hosting. The 2016 tournament will serve as a special off-year edition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event.

According to the Miami Herald venues being considered are the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida and Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. The competition is not yet on the FIFA calendar, which would provide a hurdle to securing clubs’ top players for the tournament. It is also going to overlap significantly with Euro 2016, which runs from June 10-July 10.

A few hurdles need to be cleared between now and the 2016 Copa America, chiefly getting this tournament on FIFA’s schedule, which will help secure top players’ availability for the tournament. In addition, the timing of the tournament abuts a number of potential conflicts including the 2016 Summer Olympics, World Cup qualifying matches, the Major League Soccer schedule and Euro 2016.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia