What Does Hosting the Copa America in 2016 Mean to the United States?
It was announced yesterday that the United States will be hosting the centennial version of the Copa America in 2016.
The competition will be officially called the "Copa America Centenario" and will involve 16 teams, all 10 South American nations along with the United States, Mexico and four other CONCACAF nations.
It is important to state that the tournament will not be played in place of the 2015 editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup or Copa America.
Being awarded the centennial version of the prestigious tournament is somewhat of a consolation for sports fans in the United States after missing out on the 2016 Summer Olympics, where Chicago was outbid by Rio de Janeiro, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup which was awarded to Qatar.
The 2016 Copa America will be the biggest sporting event that the United States has hosted since the 2002 Winter Olympics and is the biggest soccer event in the States since the 1994 World Cup.
With the nations involved in the tournament, there is no question that some of the world's best talents will be on display.
Argentina's Lionel Messi will only be 29 by the time 2016 comes around and barring any major injury setbacks, the world's best player will be on display as well as talents like Neymar and Radamel Falcao that do not play on American soil often.
In 2016, the Copa America will also be able to play off of the momentum of Euro 2016 in France.
Euro 2016 will be start in June and the Copa America starts up in America in July.
With even more Americans expected to watch the European Championships in four years time, the enthusiasm for soccer in the United States will reach a climax when the Copa America begins right after the second most popular tournament in the world ends.
The stadiums that will draw the Copa America will no doubt be amongst the biggest that America has to offer.
While the announcement of what stadiums will be used is far away, there are plenty of stadiums that are almost locks to host matches.
Expect the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, Gillette Stadium, right outside of Boston and the massive Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas to host many of the big matches in the tournaments.
Other prospective sites have to include Chicago's Soldier Field, Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field and Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The biggest impact that the tournament may have is on the United States men's national team, who will have three straight years of international competition going into the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is held every two years and there is no sign that the 2015 or 2017 versions of the continental championship will be affected by the 2016 Copa America.
The added benefit from winning the 2015 Gold Cup would be a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia against the rest of world's continental champions and host Russia.
The potential of facing top-notch competition in three straight years would do wonders for the development of the national team.
Instead of playing friendlies against nations that may not field their best sides, the Gold Cup, Copa America and possibly Confederations Cup are competitions in which the best of the best from each country will be playing on the pitch.
There is also the fact that the United States will get plenty of exposure through hosting the 2016 Copa America and it is a chance to show the world how much the country has progressed since the 1994 World Cup.
One thing is for sure: if the 2016 Copa America is done right, the United States of America will not only gain more exposure for their stadiums and players, they will become a premier destination for the rest of the world's top tournaments.
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