Sun, Sep 13, 2015 - Page 19 News List

S American soccer head backs Copa Centenario in US

AP, ASUNCION

The head of South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL on Friday said he backs playing the Copa America’s 100th anniversary tournament next year in the US.

Juan Angel Napout said CONMEBOL officials will meet on Thursday in Mexico City with officials of CONCACAF, soccer’s ruling body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Despite reports the Copa Centenario might be held elsewhere, Napout said he is focused only on the US.

“Our executive committee of CONMEBOL has decided to have talks with CONCACAF representatives on Sept. 17 in Mexico City. The only topic of the meeting: playing the Copa Centenario in the United States,” Napout said in a telephone interview.

The special tournament featuring 10 South American teams and six from North and Central America and the Caribbean had originally been planned for the US. However, the event has been in doubt since the FIFA scandal earlier this year, when the US Department of Justice issued indictments for several top soccer officials from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, and executives for a sports marketing company planning the 100th anniversary tournament.

CONMEBOL, which faces financial problems, needs the event. And it needs to play it in the US, with its large population, ready-to-go stadiums and its huge Latin American community of soccer fans.

A stumbling block involves the indictments and unresolved legal issues that could pose problems for top soccer officials traveling in the country.

CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb was among those indicted and is being held in the US, while former CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz is fighting extradition to the US.

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