ASUNCION: South American officials are poised to move next year’s Centenary Copa America to Mexico are judging the United States a legal no-go zone writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The tournament is oldest existing national team tournament and CONMEBOL had planned to stage it in the US as part of its strategy to secure closer financial and political relations with the central and north American governing body CONCACAF.

However events of May 27, when the US Department of Justice set out in pursuit of American and Latin American officials in the FIFAGate scandal, placed the tournament in jeopardy.

Travel fears

Very few senior officials of CONMEBOL even travelled to Chile in July for this year’s Copa America for fear of extradition applications and thus consider travelling to the US next year as out of the question.

CONMEBOL’s executive committee, meeting in Asuncion, has decided to move the tournament not to Colombia or Ecuador, which had expressed interest, but to Mexico. Hence the tournament would continue to be staged in a CONCACAF territory.

Formal confirmation of the switch awaits agreement with Datisa, the television rights-holding company created by Brazil’s Traffic and Argentina’s TyF. A committee is to be set up to inspect stadia and support facilities in Mexico.

A central hosting role would be played by the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for a tournament which would maintain the planned 16-team format with all 10 South American nations plus six CONCACAF teams.