CONMEBOL has decided that the Copa American Centenario will be held in the United States. That has been the plan for the better part of two years now, but the recent indictments of FIFA officials by the U.S. Justice Department and the flux that world soccer has been in put the entire tournament in question. CONMEBOL recently confirmed that the tournament would be played in June 2016, as originally planned, but that which country would host was unclear. Now, they're ready to go ahead with the U.S. once again.
"We have once again ratified the unanimous decision taken at a meeting in August to hold the Centenary Cup in its original format in the United States," CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout told the Paraguayan radio station Urbana.
So the Copa America Centenario will be played in the U.S., but that doesn't mean all is well. CONCACAF hasn't committed to playing in it yet. CONMEBOL can make whatever plans they want and even play the matches in the U.S., but for it to be be the monster competition they wanted, they need CONCACAF.
Copa America Centenario was supposed to see the 10 countries of South America, the U.S., Mexico and four other countries from CONCACAF play for the championship of both Americas. It would be the biggest tournament the U.S. has hosted since the 1994 World Cup and probably the biggest they would hold until they next hosted a World Cup. It would have been massive, spanning the country and rivaling the Euros.
When several members of both the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL executive committees were indicted by the Justice Department, including the CONCACAF president, Copa America became uncertain. There was talk it would be canceled and while there were plans to announce the host cities of the matches in May, the month came and went without a word from either confederation. That continues to this day.
CONMEBOL is committed to Copa America Centenario. CONCACAF is not, at least not publicly. In fact, the two confederations are supposed to meet next week to discuss the tournament, making Napout's statements all the more baffling. By all accounts, CONCACAF is not all-in yet, and they may be next week when the two sides meet, so why speak up now?
One could chalk this up to a tacit acknowledgement that CONCACAF has signed on, but that would be giving CONMEBOL way too much credit. These confederations have a habit of speaking up too soon, confirming things that are not yet done or simply talking out of their you know what's. So until everyone involved has signed on, there's no reason to believe that everyone is in. This is the equivalent of your friend telling everyone he's throwing a party at your house before having asked you.
If CONMEBOL plays Copa America in the U.S. without CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer will still benefit. They'll collect fees on every match and CONMEBOL has ever right to play the match in whatever American stadiums want to host them. But Copa America Centenario is not confirmed yet, at least not as planned. That won't happen until CONCACAF says it's in and so far they're working on months and months of silence. Nothing has changed on that front.