The Copa America tournament will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary this Friday in Santa Clara, as Levi’s Stadium is set to host the opening match between USA and Columbia.
While it’s a big celebration, the marquee event can be viewed as a kick in the pants for CONCACAF, who is by far a weaker confederation than CONMEBOL.
CONCACAF is a moderate confederation at best that contains two powerhouse teams in USA and Mexico. The majority of the other teams lack variety for various reasons. CONCACAF’s WCQ format is respectable but easily needs to be revamped. The Continental Cup which is the Gold Cup, is borderline atrocious and at the same time meaningless as it gets dominated by USA and Mexico.
With the expanded 16 team format that Copa America is promoting this June, it surely begs the question whether or not a this format is right in the future.
Optimists have suggested a merger with the two confederations for the past four years. While it’s nothing that will come about overnight, there is something to be said for both confederations gaining an advantage with a potential merge.
Teams like Boliva, Venezuela and Peru struggle in World Cup Qualifying on a consistent basis and the merger would allow them an open shot at getting a good draw. Instead, the current system plots them with tough games against Brazil and Argentina that they have no shot in.
For countries outside North America; like Jamaica, El Salvador and Canada whom field strong teams but don’t have the “it” factor that can elevate middle-class Central America teams to glory with a World Cup appearance.
Currently, neither confederation has qualified for their respected Continental Cups. A merger would include some kind of qualifying for a tournament that would happen in every leap year. For example, 2016, 2020, 2024.
This would be a better fit for all the teams because it would create more game opportunities for the nations, thus resulting in more exposure.
There’s a lot of hurdles to overcome for the merger to become a reality, but certainly having a merger like tournament this June will surely speed up the process. Keep in mind, FIBA has the two continents merged and everything runs fine. The travel might be an issue, however, at the end of the day the hype that could be created for the merger would be totally worth it. In other words, the competition that would go down would be something that rivals what happens with UEFA. More importantly, the publicity that the CONCACAF teams would get would be what those countries have needed for the last two decades now.