CONMEBOL expands Copa Libertadores to 42 weeks and 44 teams
CONMEBOL on Monday officially announced planned expansion for the Copa Libertadores tournament, with two more qualifying spots awarded to Brazil and one more apiece to Argentina, Colombia and Chile to bring the South American club competition to 44 teams.
South American football's governing body also shifted the calendar for the Copa Sudamericana. Beginning in 2017, the two tournaments will be run more concurrently with Copa Libertadores play beginning in February and running through the end of November or to December.
Copa Sudamericana will now run from March until the beginning of December.
Brazil will now have seven teams in Libertadores, six from the first division and one from the Copa de Brasil. The Brazil Football Confederation also confirmed the news on Sunday via their Twitter account.
CONMEBOL also confirmed the proposed changes to the Libertadores final, which will now be played in November at a neutral stadium and be one single match.
The changes mean the South America format in 2017 will resemble Europe's Champions League and Europa League more closely as part of an effort, the governing body said: "to improve the quality of our tournaments and generate more profit so that we can re-invest that money in the development of football at all levels and close the economic gap that is destroying our ability to compete."
CONMEBOL met over the weekend in Bogota, Colombia, to vote on the major changes in the tournaments.
Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla said last week the league would evaluate whether Mexican clubs, who currently participate in the South American tournaments by invitation, would continue given the new, nearly all-year formats that expand Libertadores from 27 to 42 weeks.
"We must wait for the complete information, but I would just say that our duty is first to our league and our confederation [CONCACAF]," Bonilla told ESPN Deportes last week. "If there is still space for us in Libertadores, we will participate. If not, we will have to set that aside."
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