The controversial decision of CONMEBOL on the format of the previous phase has added to the favoring of the teams of Brazil and Argentina. We tell you about the controversies with this international competition .
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LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana
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Leer en español: Copa Sudamericana 2023: un torneo que inicio en medio de polémicas
The Copa Sudamericana is the second most important competition in South America at the club level. For this reason, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has changed the format of the cup several times in recent years to make it more attractive.
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However, a change that governs the previous phase of the Copa Sudamericana 2023 caused great discontent in several clubs from different countries due to the limitations that this entails. Likewise, this change adds to the discontent over the constant favoring of Brazil and Argentina in terms of the distribution of quotas.
First Phase in a Single Match between Clubs from the Same Country
CONMEBOL decided that, by the year 2023, the 32 teams that started in the first phase of the Copa Sudamericana would face each other between teams from the same country and with a single match to advance to the group stage. As in past editions, in this preliminary phase only teams from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela participate. Likewise, it was determined that the locality of said matches would be defined in the draw and would correspond to the team that came out first in the turning globe.
This new format for the previous phase generated great controversy between clubs and fans. For this reason, three clubs classified by Chile issued a letter together with the ANFP (National Association of Professional Football) addressed to CONMEBOL requesting to modify the measure of brackets to a single match. There, the Universidad Católica, Cobresal and Palestino alleged that said measure went against sports justice and against their economic interests, fully benefiting the team that plays at home. This, because said club would enjoy a sporting advantage by playing in front of its public and would benefit financially by receiving all the money from ticket sales.
The Chilean clubs argued that an aspect as important as the locality could not be left to chance. They also alluded to the fact that in the competition, the keys have historically been played with the round trip format, except in the final. However, CONMEBOL decided to ignore the request despite the fact that it is a format that affected clubs in all countries, except Brazil and Argentina.
Favoring Quotas for Brazil and Argentina
The distribution of quotas in the Copa Sudamericana is an issue that generates nonconformity among fans in a large part of the continent. This, because Brazil and Argentina are strongly favored by having six places each in the group stage. Similarly, clubs from these two countries do not have to participate in the qualifying phase, in which the other countries must eliminate half of their participating teams, leaving only two in competition.
For this reason, the group stage of the Copa Sudamericana is made up of 32 teams distributed as follows: six from Brazil, six from Argentina, two from Bolivia, two from Chile, two from Colombia, two from Ecuador, two from Paraguay, two from Peru, two from Uruguay, two from Venezuela and the four teams eliminated from the previous phase number three of the Copa Libertadores.
Therefore, between Brazil and Argentina, they occupy 37.5% of the total places in the Copa Sudamericana in the group stage. However, this percentage can increase if any of the four teams eliminated from the Copa Libertadores that come to play "the other half of glory" come from Brazil or Argentina. In contrast, the other countries occupy only 6.25% of the total slots in the group stage- Their only chance to improve that percentage is for one of their clubs to arrive as one of the aforementioned teams eliminated from the Copa Libertadores.
However, to guarantee other teams a better opportunity to advance in the competition, CONMEBOL added a round of 16 play-offs between the second-placed teams in each Copa Sudamericana group and the third-placed teams in each Copa Libertadores group. The winners will advance to the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana. However, this does not solve the great inequality that diminishes their chances of a continental title for non-Brazilian and non-Argentine clubs.