Lionel Messi, Neymar, Radamel Falcao and other leading lights of South American soccer will play meaningful games on United States soil.
Copa America, the international soccer tournament tournament which crowns South America’s champion, will be held in the U.S. in summer 2016, according to ESPN’s Jorge Ramos.
— Jorge Ramos & Banda (@ESPN_JorgeRamos) October 24, 2012
The expanded, 16-team tournament will include the 10 COMNEBOL (South America’s federation of national soccer associations) teams, the United States Men’s National Team, highly rated Mexico and four other teams from the CONCACAF (North and Central America, plus the Carribean) region. The event will mark the 100th anniversary of COMNEBOL and the first South American Championship, which Uruguay won in 1916.
Copa America has been staged every four years since 2007. It ran on a three-year cycle from 2001-07 and a two-year cycle from 1987-2001. Usually, 12 nations — the 10 COMNEBOL members and two guests — compete in the prestigious tourney.
It’s unclear at this point if the expanded 2016 Copa America will be a one-off event or something more enduring. Chile will host the tournament in 2015, as Uruguay looks to defend the title it won in 2011.
Earlier this year, there were rumors that COMNEBOL was considering staging Copa America in North America in order to capitalize on the massive television audience. Those reports appear to be true, and some of the best players in the world will compete for international glory in front of a rabid stateside fans.