International soccer officials will gather in Miami Beach on Thursday to confirm what has been rumored for quite some time: The 2016 Copa America “Centenario” — a 100th anniversary special edition of the historic South American tournament — will be held in the United States.
The field is expected to include all 10 South American nations, plus the United States, Mexico, and four other teams from the CONCACAF region (North and Central America and the Caribbean). The 10 South American teams would be Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Imagine seeing Brazil versus Colombia at Sun Life, or the U.S. facing off against Argentina at the Rose Bowl.
It would be, in essence, Copa America joined with Gold Cup, making it the biggest and most prestigious soccer tournament held on U.S. soil since the 1994 World Cup and 1999 Women’s World Cup.
CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, South America’s soccer governing body, are hosting a joint press conference Thursday for “a historic announcement,” according to the release.
A CONCACAF source confirmed the event is, in fact, to announce the U.S. hosting the 2016 Centenario.
“If they combine the Copa America and Gold Cup and host it here, it would be so exciting,” said Tom Mulroy, president of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. “American fans would get to see the U.S. playing against teams like Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil in a tournament that matters. It’s huge, and shows some real 21st century thinking for the two regional federations to come together like this for the good of the game.”
CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo Aguerre will be at the press conference along with unnamed star players from both federations.
Among the stadiums being considered as hosts are Sun Life Stadium; the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; the Citrus Bowl in Orlando; RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.; Stanford (Calif.) Stadium; and Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The first Copa America was played in 1916, and it is the world’s oldest intercontinental tournament. Uruguay has won it 15 times, and is the defending champion from 2011. It is a quadrennial tournament typically played the year after the World Cup.
Chile is hosting in 2015 and Brazil in 2019. The 2016 tournament would be a special off-year edition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event. Details of the dates have not been revealed, but the tournament usually is held in late-June and July.
That timing would create possible conflicts with the 2016 Summer Olympics, World Cup qualifying matches, and also with the Major League Soccer schedule, which runs March through October.
The best Copa America finish for the U.S. team was fourth-place in 1995, after a 4-1 loss to Colombia in the third-place game. It is unclear how the other four CONCACAF teams will be chosen, but they might be determined by finish in the previous Gold Cup.
Argentina has hosted the tournament nine times, more than any other nation. Uruguay has been host seven times, Peru and Chile six, and Brazil four.