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Copa America organizers worried about empty seats in Brazil

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) The head of South America’s soccer governing body is worried about empty seats at the Copa America tournament in Brazil.

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But CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez said Sunday he believes the attendances will improve as the tournament advances.

More than 46,000 fans paid an average of $125 per ticket at Brazil’s opener against Bolivia, but at least 22,000 seats were empty at the Morumbi Stadium for a match that organizers initially said was a sellout.

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Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Qatar and Paraguay saw 20,000 fans at the 87,000-seater Maracana.

“It worries us, of course it worries us,” Dominguez said after a CONMEBOL event in Rio de Janeiro, adding “I think it will improve.”

Copa America preview: Can Messi’s men stop the hosts?

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Several massive names in CONMEBOL are looking at what could well be their final Copa America, beginning tonight in Brazil (Watch live on Telemundo Deportes).

And whereas Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez enter the competition knowing they’ve mastered it once or twice, the window is closing for Radamel Falcao, Sergio Aguero, and a man with the last name Messi.

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That’s also true for most of the Brazil players aside from captain Dani Alves. The Selecao have not won the Copa America since 2007, and will be the favorites to lift the trophy on home soil.

Yes, even without Neymar, though his absence certainly allows Colombia and Argentina to claim somewhat equal footing in the favorites’ category.

Brazil’s status as hosts means winning Group A would allow them to avoid the Group B and C winners until the final. Group C, however, is a top-to-bottom bunch and it wouldn’t be surprise for it to sort itself in any permutation.

Group A

  1. Brazil
  2. Venezuela
  3. Peru
  4. Bolivia

This one is a battle for second, even without Neymar, and Venezuela’s showing against the United States was not simply a function of American dysfunction. Peru’s question remains in defense, and not being able to handle Salomon Rondon has us putting them third.

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Colombia
  3. Paraguay*
  4. Qatar

Messi and Co. will enjoy this draw, though both Paraguay and Colombia have the chance to give them fits. The Argentine megastar has the spotlight and the burden, though, as he’s yet to supply international honors to his nation and is coming off a disappointing end to his club season (team-wise, not player-wise, it should be noted).

Group C

  1. Uruguay
  2. Japan
  3. Chile*
  4. Ecuador

Where do you go here? Every country in this group is within 22 spots on the ELO ratings, from Uruguay’s 10th to Ecuador’s 32. Japan can tempt the heights of the group and tournament, but how quickly will it adjust to Brazil? The Asian nation finished fourth in manageable Group C at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, hammered 4-1 by Colombia in a must-win finale.

Knockout Rounds

Quarterfinals
Brazil defeats Chile
Colombia defeats Venezuela
Argentina defeats Japan
Uruguay defeats Paraguay

Semifinals
Brazil defeats Colombia
Argentina defeats Uruguay

Final
Brazil defeats Argentina

Argentina, Colombia to co-host 12-team Copa America in 2020

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Argentina and Colombia will share hosting duties for the 2020 Copa America, which will be played with a new format.

South America’s soccer body CONMEBOL confirmed the dual hosts on Tuesday during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, where the final of this year’s tournament will take place on July 7.

CONMEBOL said 10 South American teams plus two guests will play in the competition in 2020, the same number as this year’s edition. However, they will be divided into two groups of six based on geography with a north and south region.

Colombia will be paired with Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and one of the guests.

Argentina will welcome Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay and the other guest.

The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.

Chile joins South American bid for 2030 World Cup

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Chile has joined a coalition of South American countries planning to bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The head of South American soccer body CONMEBOL announced the decision Wednesday after meeting in Buenos Aires with presidents of the four nations, which also includes Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez said on Twitter: “We confirm the agreement between the four countries to keep working on the strategy for FIFA to award us joint organization of the 2030 World Cup.”

Argentina and Uruguay, the country that hosted and won the first World Cup in 1930, initially planned to bid for the 2030 tournament together before Paraguay was added later.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said in February his country would join the group.

Report: U.S. Soccer proposes big money tournament to CONMEBOL

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Imagine a tournament which invites the best teams in North and South America for a summer football festival.

You could even call it the Copa America.

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Joking aside, reports Tuesday say that U.S. Soccer has proposed a big dollar tournament to run at the same time as EURO 2020, guaranteeing a share of $200 million for 16 nations.

It would look a lot like the Copa America Centenario and also guarantee nearly nonstop soccer viewing from near sun-up to sundown in 2020 and oh goodness, let’s do this thing (reporting by the esteemed Andrew Das of the New York Times).

In his letter, a draft of which was seen by The New York Times, Cordeiro took pains to emphasize that the new event would be a singular tournament, and not meant to replace existing events like the Copa América or the Gold Cup, which would continue separately. Conmebol, which will contest this year’s Copa in June and July in Brazil, said last year that it was planning to shift the Copa América to a quadrennial schedule starting in 2020, to coincide with UEFA’s European Championship. Concacaf holds its own regional championship, the Gold Cup, in odd-numbered years; this year’s Gold Cup matches will be played in the United States, Costa Rica and at least one Caribbean nation.

Any such move would supersede the Copa America, and seemingly be a one-off. Or perhaps the USSF views it as a chance to supplant it for good, who knows?

In any event, a U.S. based big tournament where the USMNT can measure up against CONMEBOL powers while preparing for World Cup qualifying? Beats the alternative.

It would be delightful if the Copa America could just come around to including CONCACAF (and the United States) more often, and USSF president Carlos Cordeiro is making a strong play here. Money drives the bus, and the U.S. has the infrastructure to pull off another big money tournament (especially if it were to lower its sometimes outlandish ticket prices for smaller matches).

UPDATE: CONCACAF is into it