The dream is, reportedly, all but dead.
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After 18 months of dreaming and hoping, followed eventually by speculating and doubting, it’s unlikely the 2016 Copa America Centenario will be played in the United States, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
U.S. Soccer will reportedly not attend a Thursday meeting in Mexico with high-ranking officials from CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean) and CONMEBOL (South America) originally intended to sort out a number of key details to host the tournament in the U.S., which appears to be U.S. Soccer’s way of saying, “We’re not touching that thing with a 10-foot pole.”
But the repercussions of a Department of Justice investigation delayed the announcement of the host cities in June, and U.S. Soccer officials — wary of more arrests and their potential exposure in the case of further legal action — have been seeking assurances about the contracts and details of the tournament before agreeing to proceed as host. Some conditions have been met, according to the officials, but U.S. Soccer and its lawyers have several significant requests that have not been addressed.
According to the report, if U.S. Soccer pulls out of its role as tournament host, the U.S. national team will also be pulled from the list of 16 participants. The USMNT was scheduled to compete against CONMEBOL’s 10 nations, alongside Mexico and four more qualifying teams from CONCACAF.
Just last week CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout was quoted as saying the tournament was on track to be held in the U.S. Over the weekend, CONCACAF released a statement that seemed to imply, “Slow down there, buddy, nothing is official.”
One official said it was unlikely that there would be a definitive announcement about the tournament’s status after Thursday’s meeting. He said the two most likely outcomes would be for the tournament to be staged in Mexico or for a modified tournament to be held in South America.