Uruguay Soccer Chief Calls Holding Tournament in U.S. a ‘Mistake,’ Americans Don’t ‘Live and Breathe’ Football

Before kick-off, Uruguay's players looked baffled as Chile's national anthem was played by

The president of Uruguay’s soccer association dubs it a “mistake” to hold the Copa America soccer tournament in the United States.

After the games have seen low crowd numbers and experienced several technical glitches, Uruguay Football Association president Wilmar Valdez says the games should never have been held in the U.S. in the first place.

“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,” Valdez said. “Here, yesterday [Sunday] it became obvious to me that this tournament is pretty much put together with Mexico in mind.”

Valdez went on to call Mexican ex-patriots living in the U.S. “a big colony” and noted that Univision TV acted as a big influence in getting the games moved so far north of their usual playing grounds.

“It pains me to say it and I take full responsibility as a member of the CONMEBOL executive committee,” Valdez, who was interim CONMEBOL president last year, told Sport 890 on Sunday. “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 also noted soccer is not a major sport in the United States. He said “they don’t feel football” and they don’t “live and breathe it” like other countries do.

The soccer chief’s complaints came after Uruguay’s national anthem was botched just prior to last weekend’s game against Mexico’s team as the two faced off at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico’s anthem went off as planned but when it came time to play Uruguay’s national anthem it soon became clear the Chilean anthem poured out over the loudspeakers.

Addressing the screw up, Valdez said he practically missed the game because of the error.

“We [federation officials] really didn’t get to watch the match because we were busy dealing with the organizers because we had to demand that they publicly apologize and we had to put a letter together. It was really a shame,” he said.

Tournament organizers later issued an apology that read in part, “This evening during the pre-match ceremony, due to human error, we inadvertently played the incorrect National Anthem.”

But mussing Uruguay’s anthem wasn’t the only musical miscue thus far for the troubled games. Only the day before Sunday’s game between Mexico and Uruguay the Chilean anthem was interrupted when “Mr. Worldwide!” by rapper Pitbull began to drown out the fans attempting to sing Chile’s anthem.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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