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Many of us were surprised at the end of last year when Conmebol announced that Qatar and Japan would be the two guests of the present edition of the Copa América Brasil 2019. This was because the geographical radius of action suffered a drastic change, given that only once did an Asian country had participated in our tournament, precisely Japan in 1999. All the others had been teams of the CONCACAF.
Let’s review. These national teams were Mexico, consecutively from 1993 to the Centennial in 2016, in total 10 consecutive invitations. Costa Rica came in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2016; United States in 1993, 95, 2007 and 2016. Jamaica arrived in 2015 and 2016; Honduras, in 2001; Haiti and Panama, in 2016. This meant a remarkable modification, only in the fact that we were already talking about another continent and another culture very different from ours. A kind of mini-world cup.
Well, whatever it is, although it may surprise you, the trend towards Asia will extend at least one more edition after the announcement of the president of Conmebol, Alejandro Dominguez. In it, he confirmed Qatar (its second consecutive edition) and Australia, which will debut in the American tournament, for the next version next year in Argentina and Colombia, which will also be unprecedented because it will be organized by two countries for the first time.
In these new purposes of expansion that world soccer has through the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, the Conmebol is not far behind and it seems that the goal will be to go further in regards to the guests and the growth of the event. On one occasion, Spain was spoken of as a luxury guest, although it did not materialize.
It must also be said that these two consecutive editions will be only for this time, since South America will adapt to the European calendar, so the subsequent Copa America will be in 2024. Thus, every four years, Copa América and Eurocopa will be played at the same time, in between each world cup, and after the elimination of the already extinct Confederations Cup.
Positive or negative for America?
Well, the first thing we should say is that Qatar, Japan, and Australia are respectable rivals, even if they are not very close or known in this part of the world. Qatar is the Asian champion and let’s not forget it is preparing for his World Cup in 2022. It has a training process based on the work of the Aspire Academy and Spanish managers. Believe me when I tell it will be a tough opponent in its contest as host.
Japan is, in turn, an already traditional rival in world soccer with experience in the World Cups in recent years, both in seniors and in youth. It is true that for this tournament he brought an alternative selection with players who are mostly preparing for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was not very well seen in the environment, but it is also true that Japanese soccer has grown and is already competing at the same level with several elite selections.
Next year will be Australia, another country that already knows what it is to play in the world, and that in its first classification left on the road in the repechage a historic as Uruguay, heading to Germany 2006. Organized, strong, powerful, but lacking technique, Australians seem an interesting rival for the teams of America.
In conclusion, South America tries to give its cup a more international character, something that has been happening since 1993 with continental nations, belonging to CONCACAF. Although now trying to expand with selections that yes, they are not elite, they have growth processes that have earned them respect. That, in my opinion, is positive. At first, it costs a bit to see it like that, but when analyzing the processes of these guests it is easy to realize that the choice of the guests is positive.
Of course, the fact of being Copa America loses a bit the essence when including countries from so far away, but we can not deny the new trend in world soccer to globalize absolutely everything. For that reason, we should not be surprised if, in a few years, we have a Copa América taking place in Africa, for example.