SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

US boss Cordeiro says door to Conmebol for 2020 is still open but sales windows are closing fast

By Paul Nicholson in Las Vegas

March 29 – US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro says the invitation to Conmebol’s 10 federations to play in the US in a 16-team tournament in 2020 is still open, despite Conmebol saying it will host the 2020 edition of the Copa America in Argentina and Colombia.

Conmebol had initially rejected an invitation from Cordeiro to discuss a 2020 competition, a rejection that included passing up a $200 million guarantee from the US Soccer Federation – a sum Conmebol have very little chance of replicating in 2020 on their own continent.

Cordeiro’s position on the invitation is unchanged but says that the window is starting to close on the $200 million guarantee as commercial buying windows for broadcast partners starting to close. He says really they would need to know by early May if this was going to allow broadcast sales to be secured.

The proposal from the US is to plug a gap in their own competition schedule but also to begin a longer term calendar conversation that would see the two confederations’ best teams compete more frequently. He says FIFA is supportive of the proposal.

“The idea is to grow the game. Taking the very best teams and bringing them together to create a meaningful tournament,” said Cordeiro. “What it is called doesn’t matter. What we want to do is create a long term arrangement. We are happy to go to there in 2020.”

Concacaf president Victor Montagliani expressed his support for a four-year competition, emphasising that it would not impact on their own Concacaf calendar but actually provide more opportunity to compete with the best nations.

“This is in the best interest of the hemisphere,” said Cordeiro. “What’s in the best of the game – for players and fans? Ask any player and he will tell you he wants to play against the best teams. Fans will go crazy for this,” said Cordeiro.

This year Conmebol play a Copa America in Brazil to be immediately followed by another in 2020 co-hosted by Argentina and Colombia as the confederation switches its schedule for the competition to even years. Qatar and Japan will play in the 2019 edition this summer as invited guests.

Doubts exist over whether the 2020 edition could be pulled off by Argentina and Colombia which are seven hours apart. Certainly the decision to reject, almost out of hand, the offer from the USSF was a big one.

The US estimate that the risk to them for hosting the tournament would be about $500 million, including the $200 million. The risk for Conmebol is that they are slamming the door in their own faces without a serious conversation and missing a big opportunity.

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