Head of South American football backs Copa Centenario in US

The head of South American soccer's governing body CONMEBOL told The Associated Press on Friday he backs playing the Copa America's 100th anniversary tournament next year in the United States.

Juan Angel Napout said CONMEBOL officials will meet Thursday in Mexico City with officials of CONCACAF, soccer's ruling body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Despite reports the Copa Centenario might be held elsewhere, Napout said he is focused only on the U.S.

"Our executive committee of CONMEBOL has decided to have talks with CONCACAF representatives on Sept. 17 in Mexico City. The only topic of the meeting: playing the Copa Centenario in the United States," Napout told the AP in a telephone interview.

The special tournament featuring 10 South American teams and six from CONMEBOL had originally been planned for the United States. But the event has been in doubt since the FIFA scandal earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Justice issued indictments for several top soccer officials from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, and executives for a sports marketing company planning the 100th anniversary tournament.

CONMEBOL, which faces financial problems, needs the event. And it needs to play it in the United States with its large population, ready-to-go stadiums, and its huge Latin American community of soccer fans.

A stumbling block involves the indictments and unresolved legal issues that could pose problems for top soccer officials traveling in the country.

Jeffrey Webb, the president of CONCACAF, was among those indicted and is being held in the United States, while former CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz is fighting extradition to the U.S.