Americas officials to hold talks on Pan-American 'Copa'

Reuters , Thursday 8 Nov 2012

Ambitious plans for a special Pan-American tournament to mark the 2016 centenary of the Copa America are moving forward with soccer officials due to meet later this month to try and make it a reality by the New Year

South America's CONMEBOL confederation announced last month their intention of holding a tournament involving the 10 teams from their region with the top six from CONCACAF's North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The tournament would see five-times world champions Brazil and their rivals Argentina up against North America's top teams, Mexico and the United States.

CONCACAF and U.S. Soccer officials viewed the initial declaration from CONMEBOL as premature but initial soundings have been made with FIFA and now further talks will be held to try to thrash out the details of the plan.

"We definitely want to have the tournament here, we are excited about it because we think it will be a great opportunity for our countries to be challenged and to grow and be tested," CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb told reporters in Miami.

"I think for the fans it will give a tremendous level of excitement and joy to have the centenary Copa America here in the United States," he added.

CONCACAF, however, will hold it's biannual Gold Cup in 2015 and 2017 which poses logistical and financial issues for the regional confederation and the tournament would also need to be sanctioned as part of world governing body FIFA's calendar.

"Those are part of the hurdles that we must overcome," said Webb, who said his organisation was analyzing the financial consequences of the tournament.

"We are optimistic but I don't think we are anywhere near a position to announce it, finalise it. We are looking to have more meetings with CONMEBOL, within the last week of November and we hope, by perhaps the New Year, to have everything finalized and we can start planning for 2016," he added.

CONCACAF general secretary Enrique Sanz told Reuters that informal discussions with FIFA would need to become "serious conversations" and that any final decision on the plan would need to be taken by the regional body at a congress or executive committee level.

"We are looking at it from the perspective of, is it good for football in our region? Is it good for our federations and will FIFA support this?" said Sanz.

"Once we can analyze that then we will take the decision," he added.

A FIFA spokeswoman said the earliest that they would discuss the 2016 calendar would be an executive committee meeting in December.

Without a place on the official calendar, European clubs, who employ many of the top players from the Americas, would not be obliged to release players for the tournament.

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