Copa America Centenario
The U.S. Could Host Copa America Every Four Years
June 07, 2016
COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO might not be a once-in-a-lifetime event after all. In an interesting turn of events, it appears as though CONCACAF and CONMEBOL intend to hold this tournament every four years—in the United States. As far as American soccer fans are concerned, this would be terrific news.
ESPN reported the story on Monday afternoon, indicating that only a few details remain before the deal becomes permanent.
There are some questions. Would Copa America continue to take place twice a cycle with one in South America and one in the United States? Also would the Gold Cup be reduced to every four years as a result?
Either way, South American teams seem to be on board as the United States provides great facilities, hotels, transportation, and other resources to fit the magnitude of an event that boasts some of the best teams—and players—in the world.
For the United States men's national team, this would be an absolutely enormous opportunity to face high-level competition on a regular basis. Right now, the only tournaments the U.S. has the opportunity to play on a regular basis outside of the World Cup are CONCACAF events. The exception is the Confederations Cup but qualifying for such an event is anything but guaranteed—especially when you consider how strong Mexico is playing of late.
If this does come to fruition, a theoretical cycle for the U.S. national team would be packed with a Gold Cup, Copa America, a potential Confederations Cup, and then ending with a World Cup. Combine that with World Cup qualifying and the Olympics (if the U-23 team can ever qualify again) and the U.S. will have a very busy calendar.
The Yanks desperately need competition outside of their region. Because Europe is isolating itself with the UEFA Nations League, it only makes sense that North and South America look for opportunities to cooperate to create the best possible non-European events. Perhaps down the road this could provide for more integration at the club level for international tournaments.
Some critics are pointing out that it is a convenient cash grab. Well, that might be true. But it is a darn good cash grab.
I don’t mind people making money in soccer if they come up with a good idea. This seems to fit that profile. The Copa will grow in the United States and the presence of American venues and infrastructure will help. The top teams in CONCACAF also help fill the field and are no longer watered-down “guest nations” the Copa America had been using to make up numbers in its tournament. This completes a true regional event for the Western Hemisphere.
While it's true that the U.S. would have the advantage of being a permanent host country, it's worth noting that Mexico would still boast the best home-field advantage for the foreseeable future. Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil would also likely boast bigger crowds in the United States than the host country.
Hosting a tournament with this quality of teams and players every four years would be fantastic for the growth of soccer in the United States. This is a great idea. Let’s hope it happens and CONMEBOL and CONCACAF continue to find ways to work together.