By Tom Marshall
Mexico will send a weakened team to the Copa America 2011 following an agreement between the Mexico Soccer Federation (FMF) and CONMEBOL.
Rumors were rife earlier in the week that Mexico may not be invited to future Copa America tournaments if they send a weakened squad this year.
Speaking on his return from the draw for the group stages of the Copa Santander Libertadores 2011, President of the FMF Justin Compean said the rumor was in no way true.
“We are 100-percent confirmed to continue participating,” Compean told the Mexican press.
An agreement was struck to allow Mexico to send a squad made up largely of Under-22s with five additional senior players to the Copa America. The new Mexican coach Jose Manuel de la Torre will not take charge of the team for the tournament, perhaps a consequence of the sacking of Hugo Sanchez after his young side’s poor showing in the Olympics in Bejing.
Since 1993, Mexico has taken one of the two spots in the Copa America given over to invited countries from outside the South American region. This year, the Copa de Oro, the regional tournament for CONCACAF teams, is in June, the final taking place just one week before the Copa America kicks off, posing a logistical problem for Mexico.
Mexico, with strong encouragement from CONCACAF, sees the Copa de Oro as a much more realistic way of getting into the Confederations Cup in 2013 in Brazil.
Many in Mexico remain unhappy that their best players won’t be around to compete with some of the best teams in world soccer in the the Copa America, considered the international game’s second or third most prestigious competition.