CONCACAF still keen on joint, 16-team Copa America in '16
PASADENA, Calif. – Work toward creating a tournament for national teams across the Americas, to celebrate the 100th birthday of South America's confederation, is continuing, CONCACAF's president told a Rose Bowl gathering Wednesday afternoon.
Jeffrey Webb said CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, and CONMEBOL, which runs soccer in South America, are hoping FIFA will approve a joint Copa Centenario (Centenary Cup) for 2016.
“We are looking at possible tournaments in the future. One, of course, is 2016 with CONMEBOL,” said Webb, who was elected last May to succeed Jack Warner as CONCACAF's president. “We are continuing to explore, and, hopefully, we'll be able to get permission from FIFA so we will be able to have this tournament, not only in 2016, but all teams will be able to have their full selection [of first-choice players].”
A proposed 16-nation tournament, to be played in the United States, was revealed in October by CONMEBOL, but CONCACAF quickly pushed back on the announcement, saying it was premature. The event would include all 10 South American nations, the US, Mexico and four more CONCACAF nations.
Webb, who is from the Cayman Islands but spent much of his youth in Florida, was in Pasadena to announce that this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, the region's international championship, would open with a July 7 doubleheader at the Rose Bowl featuring Mexico's national team. The Gold Cup groups and full game schedule are slated to be announced in mid-March.
Webb was asked if there had been consideration to change the Gold Cup format from every two years to every four years in an effort to increase the tournament's importance. Some of the entrants at this year's Gold Cup, including Mexico, who also have a Confederations Cup obligation to fulfill, are expected to bring B teams.
“This is something we have discussed,” Webb said. “We have for the first time created a Gold Cup organizing committee, which would not only be working and developing [the upcoming] Gold Cup, but also would be looking strategy at future Gold Cups, whether we go from a two-year to a four-year [cycle].
“But understand that large revenue for CONCACAF – the Gold Cup is our flagship competition, and from a revenue generation [standpoint], the Gold Cup allows CONCACAF to sustain itself and develop programs.”