“Our yearning is the unification of all the American continent,” said Leoz. “The ideal thing would be a Copa in which all the countries of the continent take part.
“It’s not crazy, it’s a positive idea from every point of view. But there are interests which make it impossible.”
Teams from outside South America such as Mexico, Costa Rica, the United States and even Japan have taken part as guests in recent Copa tournaments. But Leoz said he wanted all the teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean to play.
At the same time, teams from South America have been invited to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup which, like the Copa America, is held every two years.
Mexican club sides also take part in the South American Libertadores Cup, with Cruz Azul reaching this year’s final.
But Eugenio Figueredo, president of the Uruguayan Football Association (AFU) and a member of the CSF’s executive committee, immediately poured cold water on the idea.
“It’s very difficult. Firstly, because of the calendar. Secondly, because of the amount of time you would need for a competition with so many teams.”
“The Copa is fine as it is. It’s a cup for South America.”
The Copa America claims to be the world’s oldest international soccer tournament, having first been held in 1916. But most critics claim that the current contest, which is being held in Colombia and ends on Sunday, has been a fiasco.
The CSF, worried about security in violence-ravaged Colombia, dallied for months over whether to go ahead with the tournament in the Andean nation.
It twice ratified Colombia as hosts, then announced the Copa would be held elsewhere, then reinstated Colombia as hosts but postponed the tournament until 2002 and then, just six days ahead of the first game, went back to the original dates.
Argentina, the continent’s strongest team, withdrew because they had sent their players on holiday when the Copa was postponed and Canada, due to take part as guests, also pulled out.
The two countries were replaced by Honduras and Costa Rica respectively.
The Copa has also been devalued because it is held in the middle of the South American World Cup qualifying competition – in which the 10 CSF member countries play each other twice over an 18-month period.
This year, most teams have rested their best players and fielded reserve teams.
Even hosts Colombia, whose government lobbied furiously to keep the tournament, have played a below-strength team.