Fear not, fans of the South American game — the Copa America Centenario will be played in the summer of 2016.
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Next summer’s tournament, organized as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the very first Copa America, had been in serious doubt ever since 14 current and former FIFA executives, including a number of leaders from South America’s CONMEBOL confederation, were indicted and arrested on corruption charges back in May. That’s the good news.
Now comes the bad news: CONCACAF, the confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean, which includes the United States and Mexico, has its own problems at the moment and might not be involved after all.
The tournament was originally scheduled to be hosted in cities all across the US, which would have meant one thing for sure: a massive payday for anyone and everyone involved. But, with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL currently at the center of the FIFA scandal — former confederation presidents Jack Warner and Eugenio Figueredo, respectively, who were instrumental in organizing the 2016 Copa, are two of the key figures in the FBI and Department of Justice’s case — the organization’s new leaders are reportedly weary of participating in next summer’s spectacle.
CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout, on CONCACAF’s ongoing dilemma, from the Daily Mail:
“We want to do it.”
“The 100 years are important and we have to celebrate. (The Copa) is on the official FIFA calendar and that is valued very highly.
“Originally, we want to keep going with what we’ve done, keep going with CONCACAF but we understand the moment they are going through and we are not going to force anyone to do anything.
“What I can assure you is that the 100 years will be celebrated and that is going to be on the pitch.”
The 2016 Copa was supposed to be a 16-team tournament (as opposed to its standard 12-team field) with all 10 South American nations, the US and Mexico, and four other national teams from CONCACAF competing. (CONMEBOL traditionally invites two other nations to the tournament to field three groups of four teams — past invitees have included the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and Japan, among others.)