(WFI) Both the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Los Angeles 2024 bid committee are trumpeting the success of the Copa América Centenario.
It’s no secret why – the soccer tournament is the latest example of how well the United States handles hosting major international sporting events.
The tournament was staged across 10 stadiums with a 50,000-plus seating capacity. A crowd of 82,026 at New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium saw Chile lift the trophy on Sunday after besting Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw.
The 16-team, 23-day tournament broke the aggregate tournament attendance record by over 350,000 with 1.49 million people attending matches. Of those, an estimated 69% came from outside the host nation.
The 46,000 average gate was another record, significantly above the organizers’ baseline projection of 30,000 and a higher figure than five of the last nine FIFA World Cups. U.S. Soccer says total television viewership is estimated to have exceeded 100 million over the course of the tournament.
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, chairman of the Copa América Centenario USA 2016 local organizing committee, said in a press conference on Friday that he hopes the success of the Copa influences where the 2026 World Cup will be held.
The tournament was organized jointly by the US Soccer Federation, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL).
LA 2024 is vowing to take inspiration from the Copa’s success.
“Copa América Centenario has shown our friends in the PASO region and beyond the U.S. at its best,” said LA 2024 bid chairman Casey Wasserman in a statement. “ It is great to see so many international visitors traveling around the country and helping to create this wonderful tournament atmosphere.
“LA 2024 will be learning everything we can from the local organizing committee about the efficient operations which make that special fan experience possible: from close partnerships with transport authorities, to ticketing and commercial strategies, to safe and fun match-day fan zones.”
Los Angeles County’s Rose Bowl, the proposed venue for the soccer gold medal match in 2024, was the site of the biggest crowd for any match during the Copa. Mexico played Jamaica before 83,263 on June 9.
Lionel Messi was visibly distraught following the penalty shootout loss to Chile on Sunday. He received a pat on the back from FIFA president Gianni Infantino when he received his runners-up medal after the match.
A short while later, he told Argentina’s TyC Sports that he was retiring from international football at age 29.
There can be little doubt that he was speaking out in frustration. After all, it marked the third time in as many years that Argentina had lost in the final of a major tournament. This time, Messi found himself sharing a good part of the blame, after he missed the opening penalty in the shootout.
Argentina’s fans, and for that matter fans of the sport worldwide, will be hoping that upon reflection he reconsiders his retirement plans.
AFA Affairs to be Handled by FIFA
The daily running of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) will be handled by a normalization committee appointed by the Bureau of the FIFA Council.
FIFA says the committee will also revise the AFA statutes to bring them in line with the current FIFA Standard Statutes and will organize elections by June 30, 2017 at the latest. None of the members of the committee will be eligible to run in the elections but will act as an electoral body.
A joint FIFA and CONMEBOL mission to take place soon will name the members of the committee, which will number between five and seven people.
By INSIDER Gerard Farek
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