BIG NEWS for American soccer (and yes that deserved hitting the caps lock key). It has been announced that the Copa America’s Centenary tournament will be played on American soil in 2016. Even better yet, the United States national team will be playing in the tournament. There had been substantial rumors that this would be happening but the confirmation of the event is staggering and will be a huge boon to the growing American soccer market. The World Cup is big in America and the Euros have greatly increased in popularity, however competitions on this side of the globe have paltry viewership. The Copa America is not widely broadcasted while the Gold Cup lacks significance.
The winner of the Gold Cup gets a place in the next Confederation Cup, but this is a minor prize which is why the US and Mexican national teams field deflated squads. This lack of importance means attendance and viewership are lower than the tournament leaders would want. On the other hand, although the Copa America has many quality teams and players, it gets overshadowed by the Euros because it is not widely distributed. Therefore, this deal kills two birds with one stone by giving the Copa America more exposure in the United States large TV audience and giving the United States TV networks a major soccer tournament on the same level as the Euros. It also would not compete with the Euros as the games would take place at two different times of the day.
As this blog has well noted, soccer consumption is growing rapidly in the US. The soccer fans in this country want to watch quality soccer and in the past would have gone out of their way to find it. However, with more and more soccer on TV, soccer fans now can pick and choose what they want to watch. In order for the Copa America to increase in popularity it needs to capture the American audience. However, this will also greatly benefit American soccer as it will provide more quality soccer for current fans to enjoy while also converting new fans to the soccer world. This news is only made greater by the United States competing in this tournament which will give the US sports fans another reason to support soccer for patriotic reasons. When US sports fans watch soccer for patriotic reasons the hope is that they continue to be fans after the tournament is over. The more chances US soccer has to appeal to them, the better their chances are to convert some more. And who could imagine the effects on American soccer if we won…