MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Next year’s Copa America Centenario remains on course to be held in the United States, regional football officials insisted Thursday, brushing off mounting speculation the scandal-tainted tournament would be staged elsewhere.
Officials from governing bodies CONCACAF and CONMEBOL met in Mexico City to discuss planning for the 2016 event, which is scheduled to feature 10 teams from South America and six from outside the region.
Doubts about the tournament have swirled since the eruption of the FIFA corruption scandal in May, when several current and former officials from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL were indicted by U.S. prosecutors.
The Copa America Centenario — a one-off event being staged to mark the 100th anniversary of the Copa America — featured prominently in the U.S.-led corruption probe.
Prosecutors alleged more than $110 million in bribes had been paid to officials in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to secure the license to sell lucrative sponsorship and media rights for the event.
1 big issue with Copa América Centenario: Marketing rights still held by Datisa (Traffic, TyC, Fullplay), accused of $110M in bribes by DOJ.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 17, 2015
The controversy has left question marks about the viability of staging the tournament in the United States.
On Wednesday the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) confirmed it would not have any representative at Thursday’s planning meeting for the tournament, prompting speculation that American officials were prepared to withdraw support for the event.
However a spokesman for North America, Central America and the Caribbean’s governing football body (CONCACAF) said Thursday the United States remained the venue of choice for the tournament.
“It was a good and productive meeting. We continue with the common goal of holding the Copa Centenario in the United States,” Jurgen Mainka, CONCACAF director of communications, told a news conference following a three-hour meeting with executives from South American governing body CONMEBOL.
Mainka also quashed speculation Mexico is being considered as an alternative site for the June 3-26 2016 tournament.
“We all understand that we are aligned to have the cup in the United States,” he said.