Houston has been selected as one of ten cities to host matches in the Copa America in 2016, CONCACAF announced on Thursday afternoon. NRG Stadium, home of NFL’s Texans will be the venue used for the matches, with a minimum of three matches guaranteed to be played at the venue.
Surprisingly, AT&T stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington was not selected as a venue, perhaps due to issues with the turf in prior matches. That leaves Houston as the only option for fans in Texas to see the tournament.
There were 24 candidate cities and venues, putting Houston among an elite group of venues in America. The tournament will be the first time that the Copa America, held in 2015 in Chile, will be held outside of South America.
The tournament will include six teams from CONCACAF and the whole South American confederation, CONMENBOL. The United States and Mexico have both pre-qualified for the tournament from CONCACAF and stand a chance of playing in Houston.
The tournament is designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Copa America, and will not be the usual South American Championship, with no Confederations Cup spot issued. Despite not being the official South American Championship, the tournament is within a full FIFA window, and as such any players called up by their nation must be released by their clubs ensuring full strength teams.
That the tournament is being held at all should be considered something of a success given the tournament was originally awarded to the USA under the license of Traffic Sports USA, which has since been indicted by the FBI in the FIFA investigation. CONCACAF and US Soccer worked well to make the tournament happen and the fans in Texas will benefit, getting to see matches in Houston.