Under-pressure CONMEBOL tenders expanded Copa America rights

By Mark Baber

February 23 – The South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL) is set to tender television and commercial rights of the 2019 Copa América tournament which has been expanded by six teams to include invited nations from CONCACAF and UEFA.

The Copa America Centenario was played in the US in 2016 and included six teams from CONCACAF. The 2019 Copa América, which will be played in Brazil from 14 June to 7 July will again include six invited nations with European nations to be included this time as well as the 10 nations of CONMEBOL.

The list of invited participants has not yet been finalised but the US and Mexico are pretty much guaranteed slots, and come with significant commercial opportunity for the South American. They will be trying to attract European nations that will bring similar financial weight to the tournament.

The tender process will be audited by Ernst and Young. Also included in the rights contract will be a mandate for commercialisation of broadcast, sponsorship and other commercial rights  for the confederation’s women’s soccer and beach soccer tournaments.

A similar process recently saw an IMG-Perform consortium win a tender for marketing the rights for the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and Recopa club tournaments.

CONMEBOL continues to come under financial and legal pressures as a result of the FIFAgate scandal, with the leaders of the DATISA conglomerate, who original held the Copa América Centenario marketing contract, accused of having paid over $100 million in bribes to CONMEBOL leaders for the rights to CONMEBOL governed tournaments.

The original marketing partners for that tournament and the corruption surrounding the award of the marketing rights proved to be a watershed moment in the FBI investigation into football corruption that opened a gateway to more than 40 indictments.

The 2016 tournament was still played – with significant success – under the originally agreed format with CONCACAF, but with new marketing sales partners, though many of the same broadcast partners.

CONMEBOL faces the prospect of paying a portion of the 2019 Copa América revenues to the litigants in a number of cases including that brought by Ismael Pintos who has won a breach of contract award of $10 million which could yet be appealed to the Paraguayan Supreme Court and which has led to a suggestion from the President of the Paraguayan Football Federation that the organisation could be forced to relocate from Asuncion.

Parties interested in the CONMEBOL tender can send queries about the tender process from February 26 to March 2 with offers to be submitted by March 13.

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