Perhaps the highest hurdle for Copa America Centenario to take place in the United States next summer as originally planned has been cleared.
CONMEBOL has cut tournament marketing ties with Datisa, the South American confederation announced on Friday. That could pave the way for the tournament to go ahead in the USA, with the firm's involvement in the competition being a major hang-up for potential organizing host U.S. Soccer, according to SI's Grant Wahl.
The marketing organization, a joint venture of Traffic Sports, Full Play and Torneos y Competencias, is heavily implicated in the U.S. Justice Department's indictment of FIFA executives and officials, linked to over $100 million in bribes over Copa America Centenario alone.
In the indictment of Datisa's executives it reads, “In connection with the acquisition of the media rights to the Copa América and Centenario tournaments from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, Datisa agreed to pay $110 million in bribes to the defendants Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel [a Venezuelan CONMEBOL exec], José Maria Marin [the former Brazilian federation president] and Nicolas Leóz [the former CONMEBOL president], and several other soccer officials. Datisa agreed to make these payments at various times over the life of the contracts. At least $40 million has been paid to date.”
In CONMEBOL's statement, the confederation said that it will work with the U.S. Soccer Federation and CONCACAF to seek a new partner for marketing and commercial rights in a transparent process.
ESPNFC reported on Thursday that an announcement regarding the USA hosting Copa America Centenario is imminent, and Friday's development would figure to play a large role in that transpiring. ESPNFC's report also stated that the final for the tournament, which includes all 10 CONMEBOL teams and six CONCACAF entrants (USA and Mexico among them), would be held at the Rose Bowl, while one semifinal is slated for MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.