Uruguay lift the Copa America trophy in 2011. (Getty)
CONMEBOL announced plans to hold a special edition of the Copa America tournament in the United States in July 2016 to mark the South American confederation's 100th anniversary. Dubbed the Copa America Centennial, the special tournament will include the U.S. and Mexico as fixed participants along with four other CONCACAF teams, which will be decided through the Gold Cup, and 10 CONMEBOL teams.
The Copa America Centennial take place between the already scheduled 2015 Copa America in Chile and 2019 tournament in Brazil and will mark the first time the tournament has been held outside of South America. As unique as this event will be, it's far from the first time CONCACAF teams have taken part. Costa Rica (best finish: quarterfinals in 2001 and 2004), Honduras (3rd in 2001), Mexico (2nd in 1993 and 2001) and the U.S. (4th in 1995) have all participated as invited nations in the past (Canada was invited in 2001 but withdrew). Costa Rica and Mexico both played in 2011, but failed to make it out of the group stage.
It's hard not to see the decision to hold this tournament in the U.S. as CONMEBOL's attempt to cash in (and maybe distract from the expanded 24-team Euro 2016) with a bunch of B-squads, but it still sounds like a really fun idea. It could also be the first step towards CONMEBOL and CONCACAF joining forces with UEFA to put together a "World Cup II: Don't Tell Sepp" as an even bigger cash grab.
UPDATE: It seems CONMEBOL decided to announce this before CONCACAF and the USSF were completely on board. Says CONCACAF (via Soccer By Ives):
"Even though playing the 2016 Copa America in the CONCACAF region with our teams and those from CONMEBOL would be a wonderful experience for all fans, we are still in the midst of talks and negotiations between all parties involved in this decision," said CONCACAF General Secretary, Enrique Sanz. "This is an idea we are hoping to materialize but we are still evaluating and discussing before it becomes official but the intention is definitely there."
USSF president Sunil Gulati added to that sentiment by saying that nothing has been agreed and discussions are ongoing. Though it was probably silly to think one confederation encroaching on the turf of another would be that easy, now that CONMEBOL has announced it and gotten everyone excited about the idea, if CONCACAF or the USSF end up shutting it down, they will look like the bad guys. It seems like the tournament is still likely to happen, but the North Americans are perturbed about being put in the passenger's seat.
UPDATE II: CONMEBOL has removed its announcement of Copa America Centennial from its website. As if that could put the genie back in the bottle.
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