As was confirmed in earlier reports this week, the FMF announced that Mexican teams will not take part in the 2017 Copa Libertadores, as CONMEBOL and the FMF could not come to an agreement on terms of the schedule changes that were acceptable to the FMF’s representatives
The reorganization and expansion of the Copa Libertadores and its schedule had unnerved some among the FMF directors who went to the meetings, arguing that the expanded obligations would not sit well with the current schedule. The tournament, expanded to 44 teams with Brazil, Argentina, and Chile receiving an additional place in the tournament, moves to a full-year schedule along with the Copa Sudamericana. South American doubles (winning the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana) like the one River Plate won in 2014-15, and the double Atletico Nacional may be the verge of winning in 2016, will no longer be possible.
“On Nov. 2 we made the decision to ask CONMEBOL to relieve us of the obligation to participate in the 2017 edition, but we will work to return in 2018,” Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla explained in a press conference on Friday. “Our idea is to return in 2018 with the three spots that were allotted to us. The goal is always about growth.”
Although FMF withdrew Liga MX’s participation for the 2017 edition, its teams’ participation in the 2018 edition was left open. CONMEBOL is also stepping up its recruitment of Major League Soccer (MLS) to have its teams participate in the tournament. But Liga MX officials are also considering an alternate tournament featuring both their teams and MLS teams.
But interestingly, the announcement comes with some interesting twists. Initially, CONMEBOL wanted to see the calendar expansion as a way to improve its chances in the FIFA Club World Cup, which takes place in December. But according to a report out of Gazetta Dello Sport (via The Guardian), FIFA is looking to not only expand the 2019 Club World Cup to 32 teams, but have the tournament take place during the summer, rather than in December. The proposal decision was made to accommodate European giants like Real Madrid, who often de-emphasized the currently single-elimination small tournament due to its congested league and continental schedule.