Copa could be extended to CONCACAF - official

BUENOS AIRES, July 16, 2011 (AFP) - The Copa America, the South American championship which Argentina is currently hosting, could in future be extended to include Central American and Caribbean States, the head of the South American grouping, CONMEBOL, told AFP on Saturday.

CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz said: "The doors are open. CONMEBOL has always had the doors open to all the CONCACAF (North, Central American and Carribean) countries. It is an interesting idea" to bring the two groupings together, said Leoz.

There already exists a certain amount of cross-pollination between the two groupings given that Mexico have regularly been invited to the Copa while the United States have also enjoyed occasional guest status.

The guest idea has even been extended more recently to Japan, who had to withdraw from the current edition in the wake of the disruption caused by the March tsunami. They were replaced by CONCACAF member Costa Rica.

Mexico came to the event with, in essence, an under-22 side after their seniors were engaged in June in winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

But the generally poor showing of guests nations from the region at the Copa, a prestigious event given the World Cup records of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, has given the CONCACAF food for thought.

"Everything is possible, it is a question of sitting down and talking," said Leoz.

Fans of Mexico were disappointed to see their weakened side exit after three straight defeats while Mexican television receipts are a financial factor in the organisation of the Copa.

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