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The US will host the Copa America 2016

The Copa America 2016 edition will be played in the United States, says Mexico’s Soccer Federation president, Justino Compean. This special edition of the Copa America will include a total of 16 teams – 10 from the CONMEBOL and six from the CONCACAF region.

Justino Compean stated that the Copa America 2016 edition is being organized as a special event to be hosted in the United States, in order to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Copa America. However, it is important to note that the Copa America is regularly scheduled every four years, a year after the previous World Cup; the next Copa America will be held in Chile in 2015. This means that there will be back-to-back years with Copa America tournaments.

Copa America 2016 USA
Source: Wikipedia

The Copa America 2016 edition is what many CONCACAF region fans have always wanted: the best teams of the CONCACAF region facing off against South America’s premier national teams. However, the way the Copa America 2016 is being organized raises some doubts as to the quality the tournament might have.

Given that this tournament will host only six teams from the CONCACAF region, it will require some sort of qualification process (assuming the US and Mexico will be automatically invited). When will the qualification process take place? Qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup will most likely begin at the same time this tournament is scheduled for. Will CONCACAF teams simply be chosen to participate based on FIFA ranking? This is a topic that will need to be addressed in the following years.

The regularly scheduled Copa America of 2015 will still take place, as well as the Gold Cup of 2015, this means that both FIFA Confederation Cup 2017 spots will have already been assigned to the respective winners of each region’s main tournament. This entails that the winner of the Copa America 2016 will receive nothing else than the honor of winning.

Assuming this event will be held in the summer of 2016, means that this Copa America will share the summer spotlight with the 2016 Euro and the 2016 summer Olympics. Although I’m sure a tournament of the magnitude of this special Copa America edition will have no trouble achieving high ratings in the American continent, I see an issue with player availability.

By this point (summer 2016) the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers will be starting round 3, and the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification process will also be well on its way. Add to this the fact that the u-23 national teams will be busy with the Olympic soccer tournament (along with the three over-23 players each team can take), you can see that player availability will definitely be an issue.

As much as it pains me to say it, for all of the reasons listed above, I believe the Copa America 2016 edition will be mostly attended by South America’s “B-side” teams. I have no doubt in my mind that the CONCACAF teams will manage to bring the best possible teams they can assemble, but the CONMEBOL teams are unlikely to risk failure in the World Cup qualifiers or Olympics in an effort to win a special tournament essentially organized by CONCACAF.

However, even if the South American teams do bring their alternate teams, the Copa America 2016 will be a huge success in terms of television audience and stadium attendance. The chance of seeing an official Mexico vs Brazil match, a USA vs Argentina, or even a Costa Rica vs Colombia match will simply be too tempting to miss (I already know I will watch every single game). I personally think this tournament could equal the Euro Cup in intensity and quality if it were moved to 2015 and serve as the regularly scheduled Copa America, instead of being a “special” edition.

Hopefully I am completely wrong in my assessment and each nation will bring their best players. What do you all think, will this be a high-quality soccer tournament or just a money-making venture for CONCACAF?

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