Copa America in United States was a mistake - Uruguay FA chief
Uruguay Football Association president Wilmar Valdez said it was a "mistake" to play the Copa America Centenario in the United States.
This summer's tournament, which marks the 100th anniversary of South America's championship, includes six teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean and is being hosted outside of the continent -- in the United States -- for the first time.
Valdez outlined his frustrations with the event after Copa America organisers in Glendale, Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium mistakenly played the Chilean national anthem instead of that of Uruguay before his country's 3-1 loss to Mexico.
Goals from Rafa Marquez and Hector Herrera in the last five minutes stole the points for Mexico in front of 60,025 fans, with both teams ending the game with 10 players.
"CONMEBOL made a mistake by holding a tournament of this scope, a cup with some of the oldest national teams in the world and in South American football here in the United States," the CONMEBOL executive committee and FIFA executive council member told Uruguay radio Sport 890. "Here, yesterday [Sunday] it became obvious to me that this tournament is pretty much put together with Mexico in mind."
Valdez called the estimated 33 million Mexican Americans living in the United States "a big colony," and singled out the influence of Univision, who are the Copa America Spanish-language TV rights-holders.
"It pains me to say it and I take full responsibility as a member of the CONMEBOL executive committee," said Valdez, who was interim CONMEBOL president last year. "I think we made a mistake and that CONMEBOL made a mistake. This may be a great Copa from a marketing and 'show' standpoint, but for South American football, it is another thing."
Valdez called the United States "a country where they don't feel football" nor do they "live and breathe it" in the same way South Americans do. He said that "brings about problems."
Regarding the national anthem gaffe, Valdez said: "We [federation officials] really didn't get to watch the match because we were busy dealing with the organisers because we had to demand that they publicly apologise and we had to put a letter together. It was really a shame."
Event organisers later apologised for the mixup. Valdez also recounted that fans were spraying beer on other fans and said that at one point during the match, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, with whom he was watching the match, had to warn him to move to avoid being sprayed.
Valdez said that Uruguay are optimistic about Thursday's match against Venezuela in a Group C that also includes Jamaica. The team arrived in Philadelphia on Monday night.
On Monday, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said he hoped that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, the two regional governing bodies,would consider a permanent move for the Copa America to the United States.