U.S. Soccer, CONCACAF confirm USA will host Copa America Centenario

Copa America Centenario will go on in the United States as originally planned, U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF announced on Friday.
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Having received the assurances it required following months of scandals and indictments, the U.S. Soccer Federation on Friday evening confirmed that it will host the 2016 Copa América Centenario, a 16-team tournament commemorating the 100th anniversary of international soccer’s first continental championship.

The tournament will feature all 10 CONMEBOL (South America) members and six nations from CONCACAF, including the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the winners of two playoff series (one between Panama and Cuba and the other between Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago). It will be held June 3-26 at U.S. venues to be determined.

U.S. Soccer said Friday that 24 metropolitan areas with stadiums seating at least 50,000 have submitted hosting proposals.

“We are extremely happy for our fans, our teams and our partners, that we were able to find a way to host the Copa América Centenario celebration in the United States under an entirely new structure for managing the tournament’s operations and finances,” CONCACAF and CONMEBOL said in a joint statement. “The improved governance structure will bring greater accountability and transparency to the event so it can serve its two intended purposes—to celebrate the 100 years of history of Copa América, and provide a once in a lifetime spectacle for fans in the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL regions.”

The one-off competition was in doubt following the May arrests of numerous FIFA, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF officials, some of whom were implicated in a $110 million bribery scheme related to the sale of Copa América marketing, sponsorship and broadcast rights. Both confederations have terminated their agreements with Datisa, the firm attached to the scandal.

“To ensure there is a transparent governance structure in place to oversee the management and execution of the tournament, all three parties agreed to create a new Executive Committee to govern the event,” U.S. Soccer said in a Friday release. “The committee, which will be made up of two representatives from CONMEBOL, two representatives from CONCACAF, and one representative from U.S. Soccer, will oversee policy decisions for the tournament and facilitate greater financial transparency regarding funds collected for broadcasting and sponsorships.”

The confederations will issue RFPs “to ensure transparency and accountability” as they select new partners.

Next year’s Copa América already is on the FIFA calendar, meaning national team coaches technically will have access to all their players. However, there may be players, especially Brazilians, who are steered toward the August Olympic tournament set to conclude in Rio de Janeiro. Olympic teams are U-23 aside from the three overage players permitted on each roster. The hosts, along with Argentina and Mexico, already have qualified. The U.S. will learn its Olympic fate in a two-game playoff against Colombia next March.

The Copa América, originally called the South American Championship of Nations, was played first in 1916. The most recent edition, won by Chile, was staged this summer. The U.S. participated as an invited guest in 1993, 1995 (finishing fourth) and 2007.