CONCACAF teams might dispute Copa Libertadores in the future

Can it succeed?

This partnership has been among the rumour mill since 2010, when there were reports that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF were looking to merge into one organization. But it seems that they’d lose some power inside FIFA, and our incorruptible presidents couldn’t pull it with that in sight. Now, there is another story running in the media that says CONMEBOL could make a partnership with CONCACAF to bring their teams to dispute the Copa Libertadores.According to reports, CONCACAF president and board members were received by CONMEBOL representatives in the 2nd leg of Copa  Libertadores finals a few weeks ago. Their reunion was set to discuss the possibility of CONCACAF teams to dispute South American competitions – Copa Libertadores and Copa Sul-Americana. Mexican teams already contend in those competitions.

The pros:

- Marketability: American teams have been ascending, attracting many European players nearing the end of their careers. It’s only logical that the competitions would become much more valuable, as well as sponsorship deals.

- Level of competition: South American teams apart from Brazilian ones have been struggling financially, therefore diminishing technical quality in continental competitions. Mexican and American teams would bring serious competition for the sighting of Brazilian dominance in the future.

- Prize money: Enhanced sponsorship deals and more media exposition can only mean more money available for the teams. Also, envisioning an competition with arrangements similar to UEFA Champions League, clubs would earn more money since there’ll be more stages to compete and games to play.

The cons:

- Obscurity: All the money talk said above could be pointless, as CONMEBOL isn’t much clear about their finances. There’s no common knowledge over how much money the organization obtains from their sponsorship deals. CONMEBOL’s president Nicolás Leon, who’s been 26 years in charge, could easily announce that there wasn’t any changes in CONMEBOL receipts and maintain the low income clubs get for playing at continental level.

- Distance: If South American teams already struggle with long travels inside the country, imagine if a Chilean team had to play Seattle Sounders in the US. CONMEBOL would need to organize their championships thinking about money and logistics as well.

- Calendary: Copa Libertadores and Copa Sul-Americana current calendaries are already flawed, as they compress both competition in 4 to 5 months. Comparing that to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, where teams dispute both competitions in a period of 9 to 10 months, with resting periods and respecting FIFA international dates, adding more teams would be a complete disaster if the calendaries were kept. There might be some adjustment, but only minor ones.

Personally, I’d love to see that. I don’t want to see Brazilian teams dominating Copa Libertadores, so it becomes a Brazilian League with more flair and less money. But we have to factor the bad aspects about this move as well. It’d need a huge improvement at CONMEBOL over financial, logistic and political aspects; something I’m not so optimistic about.

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