MIAMI: The oldest surviving international football tournament will celebrate its centenary in the United States in 2016 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The confederations of South America and Central/North America (CONMEBOL and CONCACAF) have confirmed that a Copa America to mark the tournament’s creation in 2016 will be staged jointly.
Concerns about player fatigue from three successive summer events have yet to be addressed.
CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo said, in Miami: “This is a Copa Centenario we want to play as an extra tournament and it’s going to be a resounding success that will make us think about not waiting another 100 years for a more permanent competition between CONCACAF and South America.
“This is a first, without forgetting that CONCACAF teams have already played as guests in the Copa America.”
CONMEBOL began inviting teams from its northern neighbours to the Copa America in the early 1990s, notably Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States.
Figueredo also said the Copa Centenario he hoped to persuade world governing body FIFA to integrate the competition into the international calendar, meaning player release by clubs would be obligatory.
This will inevitably face powerful opposition from UEFA, already concerned over fixture congestion and player burn-out.
The tournament, involving CONMEBOL’s 10 nations and six from CONCACAF, including Gold Cup holders the United States and six-times champions Mexico, will be held at venues yet to be designated across the US between June 3 and 26.
This means that Americas’ players with European clubs will be playing on into the summer in 2014 (World Cup), 2015 (Copa America) and now 2016 as well.
The Copa America, the South American championship first played in Argentina in 1916, is the oldest active competition involving national teams since the four-nation British Home Championship was discontinued in the mid-1980s.
CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said: “I congratulate CONMEBOL for inspiring players and fans throughout a century of fantastic football, and thank them for extending the legacy of this hugely successful event to CONCACAF territory.
“The American continent may have been discovered in 1492, but I can’t imagine a better way to unite this continent than with football and an exceptional celebration of talent in 2016.”
Uruguay will defend their Copa America title, a record 15th crown won in Argentina in 2011, in the next tournament in Chile in 2015.