Another day, another drama. Another tournament, another turf war. Sounds like a typical soccer issue ever since the FIFA shakedown started in May.
Soccer America Daily’s Paul Kennedy reports that the USA may not participate in Copa Centenario. A meeting intended to hash out the organization of the 2016 Copa America went on without U.S. Soccer officials, reported Sam Borden of the New York Times. If the Copa Centenario takes place outside the USA, that will likely mean the U.S. national team will not participate.
U.S. host cities for the event were supposed to be announced in late May, but the tournament's fate has been in limbo ever since Federal indictments were handed out against 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives in a massive bribery scheme that set aside $20 million in bribes alone for the Copa Centenario.
Plans for the tournament were announced in 2014 with three marketing agencies holding commercial rights to the tournament.
Unfortunately, executives from all three of those agencies have either pleaded guilty or been indicted.
One official for Copa Centenario said it was unlikely that there would be a definitive announcement about the tournament’s status right away but twopossible outcomes would be for the tournament to be staged in Mexico or for a modified tournament (meaning a downsized version of the original) would be held in South America.
Of course, that's if you ask Copa Centenario. CONCACAF's official statement is as follows:
"While all parties recognize that there are still issues that must be resolved, we are all in alignment regarding the next steps to be taken as well as the aggressive timeline towards realizing our common goal of staging the Copa America Centenario in the United States. We remain committed to working with all parties to resolve outstanding issues and operational components of the tournament."
The Copa Centenario was intended to include 10 South American teams and six CONCACAF teams.
So far, word about the location has been all over the map – literally. Conmebol (soccer’s NGB in South America) released a statement last week that Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout, the Conmebol president, and Honduran Alfredo Hawit, the interim president of Concacaf, were planning to meet in order to review how the tournament will be organized, emphasizing that both confederations remained firm in the belief that the 100th anniversary of the tournament should be commemorated in 2016.
The next day, a Paraguayan radio station carried the news that the plan remained the same -- to hold the tournament in the United States.
Fourteen of the 16 teams have been settled. The other two places will go to winners of Trinidad & Tobago-Haiti and Panama-Cuba playoffs to be played in October. All 10 South American teams are supposed to take part in the tournament, as well as the USA and Mexico, winners of the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups, Costa Rica, winner of the 2014 Copa Centroamericana, and Jamaica, winner of the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
Now, the USA part of that equation doesn’t seem so certain -- depending upon the person you ask.
Read the Soccer America Daily article, and any follow-up, here.