Football: United States to host 2016 Copa America

Argentina's Lionel Messi at this year's Copa America. The 2016 edition will be held in the United States.
Argentina's Lionel Messi at this year's Copa America. The 2016 edition will be held in the United States.PHOTO: EPA

MIAMI (REUTERS) - The United States will host the centenary Copa America in 2016 despite the original deals for the competition featuring in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) indictments against football officials in the region.

The decision paves the way for the biggest official international tournament in the US since the 1994 World Cup and could see top players such as Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar in action at National Football League stadiums.

Confirmation of the June 3-26 event was announced in a joint statement on Friday from Concacaf, the football confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean and Conmebol, the South American confederation.

A US Soccer statement also said the tournament would go ahead in "venues across the United States".

The move was made possible by the two confederations reclaiming the broadcast and sponsor rights for the competition from Datisa, a marketing firm that featured in the DOJ indictments.

Suspended Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, who had been a key player in creating the 2016 tournament, was arrested in May along with Eugenio Figueuredo and Nicolas Leoz, both ex-presidents of Conmebol.

The three were among 14 football officials and sports marketing executives who were indicted for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption by the DOJ in May.

The three main shareholders in Datisa - Alejandro Burcazo, Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano Jinkis - were all indicted.

The DOJ indictment said the trio had paid up to US$110 million (S$153.3 million) in bribes for a series of lucrative media rights from the two confederations.

"The confederations will issue in the upcoming days a joint Request for Proposals (RFP) publicly to ensure transparency and accountability in the selection of new commercial partners to market these rights," said the joint statement.

All 10 nations from Conmebol will play in the tournament while the United States, Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica feature along with two other Concacaf teams.

The two regional confederations, along with US Soccer, will form a committee to run the event.

"US Soccer will immediately begin securing venues for the tournament and planning the operational aspects," said a statement from the federation. "Earlier this year, 24 metropolitan areas showed interest in hosting matches during the tournament and submitted a proposal to US Soccer. A minimum seating capacity of 50,000 is required for tournament venues."

The Copa America is the oldest international tournament in football.