CONCACAF in talks to join Copa America for real

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CONCACAF may join forces with CONMEBOL for the 2016 Copa America, the 100th anniversary of the tournament.

“The discussions today were held in a spirit of genuine cooperation,” Jeffrey Webb, CONCACAF’s new president, said. “I look forward to further talks and building a stronger relationship between our confederations.”

Awesome.

While Mexico and the United States have participated before, it’s been as a “guest.” (And the Americans angered South American officials by sending their B-team to the 2007 event, which pretty much got the Stars and Stripes disinvited 4lyf.)

What would the tournament look like? Grant Wahl offered one scenario in 2010:

CONCACAF changes the Gold Cup to a quadrennial tournament midway between World Cups and sends its four semifinalists (and two best losing quarterfinalists) to join the 10 CONMEBOL teams in the following Copa Américas. (From the results in the last Gold Cup, those six teams would be Mexico, United States, Honduras, Costa Rica, Canada and Guadeloupe.)

Think about that for a second: It’s pretty much a victory for everyone involved. The US and Mexico get excellent competition. Smaller CONCACAF clubs have a chance to shock the world (and prove that CONCACAF is not the wasteland everyone thinks it is). The South American confederation scores television money from the US and Mexico. We Americans, potentially, get to host an event with some of the best teams in the world. We also get more pictures of Pele in a bright red jacket. All sides go home a winner.

One final thought: With the Euro diluting itself by expanding to 24 teams in 2016, the combined Copa America could have a claim as the world’s best/most competitive tournament. You’d likely lose the argument but not by much.