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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).


2030 World Cup bidding heats up with joint bids

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A World Cup across the southern half of South America is very much in the cards, according to multiple reports.

Chile has joined Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina in the bid to host the 2030 tournament.

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Once 2030 hits, the World Cup will not have been hosted in South America since 2014 (three World Cups) and Europe since 2018 (two).

Here’s what Chilean president Sebastian Pinera said in a Friday Tweet.

“A few months ago I proposed to the presidents of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to incorporate Chile, and jointly, to apply for 2030. They agreed to present their joint candidacy to organise the 2030 World Cup.”

Joint bids look to be the way of the future, with Canada, Mexico, and the United States hosting in 2026 and partners potentially joining Qatar in 2022. South Korea and Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup.

Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Serbia are considering a combined bid for the 2030 tournament, with England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland also in play.

An expanded field would mean given each of the hosts a place in the tournament wouldn’t be as detrimental to qualifying (though it would make for a bizarre CONMEBOL qualifying field should all three South American teams host).

South American leadership fails players, fans

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South America’s soccer leaders have thrown in the towel. They are incapable of staging the biggest annual game on their own continent.

A confederation of 10 nations can’t find anywhere safe enough for River Plate and Boca Juniors to complete their Copa Libertadores final after proving incapable of securing the streets for the abandoned second leg in Buenos Aires.

The tournament named after the “liberators” of South America from Spanish rule is now reliant on the old colonial conqueror. Argentine fans will have to make a costly 24-hour round trip to Madrid next weekend.

“They are teams from a country and a part of the world which is obviously is very closely tied to Spain,” Spanish Football Association President Luis Rubiales said Friday. “So we are really pleased.”

But it’s humiliating for Alejandro Dominguez, president of the South American soccer body CONMEBOL, that “his final to end all finals” will be played so far away.

With the SuperClasico final enjoying unprecedented global hype, CONMEBOL reveled in stoking the already fierce rivalry between the Argentine teams but proved far from competent in responding to the dangerous upshot last Saturday.

For the mayhem on the streets at the second leg, the city’s security minister accepted fault by resigning. But even after River fans attacked the bus carrying Boca players into the second leg at the Monumental de Nunez stadium, CONMEBOL failed in its duty to the players.

The soccer body’s concern seemed to be ensuring a game was played and its trophy handed out. It was obvious the game should have been abandoned immediately, when the extent of the violence became apparent.

Rocks, bottles and wood had just been hurled at the Boca bus. Did CONMEBOL really think players were in a fit state to take to the field? Glass on the bus windows shattered around them. They might be hardened athletes, but they were clearly in shock. Boca captain Pablo Perez was also injured in one eye. Teammates were visibly affected by tear gas and pepper spray fired by police in an attempt to disperse River fans.

But CONMEBOL still thought the final, locked at 2-2, could go ahead. The decision on a postponement kept being put back on Saturday, and everyone was even brought back to try again within 24 hours.

Dominguez prevaricated rather than showing the leadership required in an organization still on a mission to regain its credibility after corruption scandals.

River coach Marcelo Gallardo flouted a ban from carrying out his duties at the semifinal second leg against Brazil’s Gremio by appearing in the dressing room. River midfielder Bruno Zuculini played in the round of 16 despite a suspension.

But River remained in the competition despite the transgressions, setting the tone for the bungled management of the final.

Dominguez’s command is now cast in an even harsher spotlight.

Ahead of the game, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in town, Dominguez seemed more preoccupied trying to preen on the world stage by reshaping the global game rather than focusing on matters closer to home. The Paraguayan went public in asking for the World Cup to be played every two years. The Copa Libertadores chaos showed just why Dominguez might prefer FIFA to be organizing more events rather than his own staff.

And after floating a proposal that will rile European soccer leaders at UEFA, Dominguez has now been bailed out by the continent to save his final.

“In Spain we find the necessary tranquility,” Dominguez said. “I don’t think the essence of the Libertadores will be lost because the game will be played in Spain.”

The Spanish federation is now open to accusations of hypocrisy. At just the time Rubiales is blocking a Barcelona league game being transported to Miami in January, La Liga finds the federation has dumped a far bigger fixture on Spanish territory.

La Liga’s court case has surely just been strengthened by Rubiales’ conflicting positions.

What will entice audiences in Spain and beyond next Sunday night: Title-chasing Sevilla at Alaves or the highly charged meeting of Argentine foes at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium?

The Game of the Century will have taken a month to complete. CONMEBOL could be paying the price even longer for its dereliction of management.

The Centenary World Cup could be at stake. Argentina intends to bid with Paraguay and Uruguay for the 2030 tournament while Spain has talked about a joint bid with Morocco and Portugal. Now Spain has been handed a PR coup.

The showpiece club finals for Europe and South America will be played in Madrid at two different stadiums now within six months. Europe has the chance to send the message to the world that it, rather than South America, is a more reliable partner for soccer.

River Plate refuses to travel for Copa Libertadores 2nd leg

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River Plate has announced its refusal to travel to Spain for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final.

“The Argentine Football Association (AFA) can not and should not allow a handful of violent ones to impede the development of the Superclásico in our country,” said a press release.

River and Boca Juniors were level at 2 after one leg, setting up a monumental home decider, but River fans attacked the Boca team bus, injuring or sickening multiple players via tear gas and broken glass.

That postponed the game a few hours, and then a day, and ultimately the match was rescheduled for Dec. 9 at the Bernabeu in Madrid.

River says the decision to move the match distorts the competition, harms those who bought tickets for the home match, and affects their chances of winning the tie.