When you think of the Copa Libertadores to someone that is Hispanic within the United States, they will tell you immediately that it is the most important club competition in the world, directly followed by the UEFA Champions League.
To someone who is non-Hispanic, but follow the sport, nine times out of 10 they would either, not have heard of it or never had the chance to watch it because they don’t have Fox Deportes – the main broadcasting channel in the U.S. This is a crying shame, and here are the reasons why American soccer fans should have the ability to watch it.
If you harbour an American perspective and compare it to the Champions League, the Copa Libertadores is far more unpredictable.
In the latest instalment of the competition, the No. 1 ranked club in the group stages, Vélez Sarsfield were pitted against the 16th ranked club, Nacional of Paraguay. The underdogs won the first leg on home soil 1-0 and drew 2-2 in the return leg in Argentina to advance. That result spurred them onto the final, where they played San Lorenzo who were ranked 15th. San Lorenzo claimed a 2-1 aggregate victory, and as a result claimed their first ever Copa Libertadores in the club’s history.
Despite the passion and long history of the competition, which began in 1960 – just five years after the UEFA Champions league, Europe’s acclaimed competition is far more advanced.
It’s a frustrating state of affairs for South America when you see the incredible passion that emanates from the clubs involved, which is at least on par, if not greater than that of some clubs in Europe.
Over the journey some of the world’s great players hail from South America and have featured heavily in the Copa Libertadores. It would be great if the American soccer fan had the opportunity of watching the next generation of stars coming through the system. Players such as Hernan Crespo, Carlos Tevez, Neymar, Rodrigo Palacio, Juan Roman Riquelme, Ronaldinho, Juan Sebastian Verson, Cafu, Martin Palermo, Zico and Pele are to name but a few who have profited from their local competitions.
Simply put, it’s a grand tournament and would have a significant following amongst not only the Hispanic communities in America, but the public in general.
It can be viewed on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 from January 2015 till July, plus it can be viewed online via various streams such as FirstRowSports and RojaDirecta.