One of the biggest soccer tournaments in the world is coming to Orlando in 2016.
The Orlando Citrus Bowl will host three games in next summer’s Copa America Centenario, a tournament taking place in 12 U.S. cities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the South American soccer championships, Central Florida Sports Commission President and CEO John Bisignano confirmed.
This is the first time the United States will host the tournament, which will feature the top national teams from South America and CONCACAF, the soccer federation representing Caribbean, North and Central American nations.
The tournament — held from June 3 to June 26, 2016 — will serve as a de facto soccer championship for the Western Hemisphere, pitting teams that would normally only play each other in World Cup competition every four years.
Orlando will host at least two pool games and a third game that will be either a pool game or potentially a knockout-round game, Bisignano said. The final will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, according to an ESPN report.
The games for each venue have not yet been announced; however, Orlando would likely be a top candidate to host Brazil and Colombia. Central Florida is one of the top tourist destinations for both countries, and Orlando City’s unique connection to Brazil through team owner Flávio Augusto da Silva and star midfielder Kaká make the Citrus Bowl a common-sense selection to host that squad.
The tournament is expected to bring some of soccer’s biggest stars to the U.S., including Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Brazil’s Neymar, Colombia’s James Rodriguez, Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Alexis Sanchez, who helped lead Chile to the 2015 Copa America title.
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