ERIC WEIL REPORTS: The South American football confederation (CONMEBOL) has made a mess, not for the first time, of this year’s Copa Libertadores while Brazilian football – its clubs, never mind the national team! – suffered another disappointment.
This year’s Cup has been badly organised, because the season’s tournament should be played in one season and not finished in the next after many players terminated their contracts and clubs change their teams.
In this case, teams who reached the semi-finals – postponed by two months and now scheduled for July 23 and 27 – can strengthen their squads which is also wrong inside the same competition.
CONMEBOL spoiled this tournament – as they have done with many others – while already thinking of organising another competition.
Yet if it finds it cannot properly organize the cup with so many participants, it should be played with fewer clubs as was the case in the old days when the standard was higher and so was the interest. Of course every club want a piece of the action for a few dollars more which, however, does not always work out.
Brazilian clubs had won the trophy for the last four years – 2010 Internacional Porto Alegre, 2011 Santos, 2012 Corinthians, 2013 Atletico Mineiro – but for the first time in 23 years no Brazilian club of the participating six even reached the semi-finals. Also, of the four semiifinalists, only one count as a traditionally strong club – Argentina’s San Lorenzo who knocked out two Brazilian clubs (Gremio and Atletico Mineiro) and now face Bolivar (Bolivia). In the other semifinal, Defensor Sporting (Uruguay) play Nacional (Peru).
This seems to be San Lorenzo´s best chance to win the trophy for the first time but they have yet to face an always difficult match at Bolivar in the heights of La Paz.
The new tournament is the 2016 Copa América to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world’s oldest continental tournament (which had originally been given the more imposing name of Pan American Cup which they should have kept.)
This is due to be played from July 3 to 26 in Miami with the usual 10 South American countries plus six from central and North America, including the United States and Mexico, champions of the Central American and Caribbean tournaments and a playoff between other leading teams of the Gold Cup which is the tournament between the North, Central American and Caribbean countries.