Group Seeds and Game Dates Announced for Historic 2016 Copa America Centenario

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the United States Head the Four Groups in the Tournament;  Seeded Nations to Visit Nine of the Ten Host Markets in Group Play

Miami (Thursday, December 17, 2015) – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and the Copa America Centenario Local Organizing Committee (LOC) announced today the group seeds and game dates for the historic 2016 Copa America Centenario. The once-in-a-lifetime soccer summer event, which honors 100 years of the Copa America tournament, will feature some of the world’s best teams and players competing from June 3-26, 2016, in the United States.

As the host nation, the United States earns the Group A seed, while Argentina, as the highest FIFA-ranked nation in the Americas (per December FIFA rankings), will be seeded top of Group D.

In celebration of the rich soccer tradition in the hemisphere and as the most decorated nations in the last 100 years in international competitions from their respective confederations, the national teams of Brazil and Mexico have also been awarded group seeds, and will head Groups B and C, respectively.

The remaining 12 participating nations will be sorted into the four groups in early 2016 based on a public draw. Seeding for the draw will be based on the December 2015 FIFA World Rankings. Details of groups and procedures for the draw will be announced leading up to that event.

In announcing the seeded teams, organizers also revealed the dates of matches, including the cities each seeded nation will visit, as well as the dates they will play during the group phase of the tournament.

Is Copa America Centenario Worth the Trouble?

Late last week, it was made official.  CONMEBOL, the South American soccer confederation that was the first to organize a national team level competition, will pay homage to its considerable history by commemorating the Copa America Centenario with a tournament… in the USA.

It goes without saying that after all the indictments that the FBI handed out like a gangsta dropping hundies at the titty bar, this tournament was in serious jeopardy of even being played at all.  But in the end, profit always wins, and CONMEBOL and its marketing partners are set to make a pile of cash with their tournament next June.

The Stadiums will be packed, the temporary grass-fields in field-turf stadiums will try and stay alive, and for the weeks that this tournament coincides with Euro 2016, there will be wall to wall footy from 7am to midnight.  Sound great, don’t it?

But how excited will fans really be when slowly, but surely, South American sides will announce that they will be playing with alternate sides, or U23 teams?  Lionel Messi will obviously be a huge draw, but how excited is Barcelona going to be watching his Messiness dig up Texas-size divots on the less than ideal surface at AT&T Stadium?  Not very. And coming off a knee injury, less so.  Chances of playing CAC – less than 50%

And what of his Barça buddy, Neymar?  Well, he has a score to settle this summer. But at the Olympics in Rio.  So, don’t expect to see him either.

How many of Chile’s Copa America heroes will be State side?  What about James and his band of Cafeteros? Remember, they will be in the throes of their insanely long and emotionally draining World Cup qualifying.

Some National teams, like Mexico, will playing a Summer tournament every year this World Cup cycle.  And some players did the same last cycle.

Venue selection will be interesting.  The most logical host city, Miami, the unofficial Capital of South America in the US, will not be available because the Dolphins Stadium will be undergoing a renovation. Too bad.  It would seem like Miami would be be the epicenter of such a tournament.  For it to not even be involved is really unfortunate.  A long list of attractive cities have great stadiums, but will need temporary fields.  Ugh!

But those gate receipts will be so appealing, so the show must go on.

It is a great idea, one that a lot of folks had been advocating for years, but greed has been at the heart of the execution and organization. It is a cynical way to celebrate 100 years of soccer.