CONMEBOL has decided to cancel the preliminary competition for the men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing, which was due to be held in Ecuador in early 2008. At a meeting in Asuncion, the president of the South American associations decided that the South American U-20 Championship in Paraguay would serve as the qualifying event for the Olympic tournament. “The Olympic Games incur huge expense and do not generate revenue of any kind,” said the organization’s executives. Nevertheless, football remains the Game’s major attraction. The top four teams in the South American U-20 Championship will therefore qualify for the U-20 World Cup 2007 and the top two will qualify for the Olympic tournament in Beijing in 2008.
In accordance with the Joint-Stock Sports Companies Act that came into force in 2005, almost all professional football clubs in Chile became private entities at the end of 2006. Chile is the third South American country to have adopted this system. The others are Colombia and Venezuela. This change has prompted a radical shake-up and Colo Colo, the country’s biggest club, has reaped the benefits of the new legislation. Colo Colo went bankrupt in 2001 and were managed by receivers until June 2005, when it passed into private ownership. The club went from being USD 34m in debt to a stock-market valuation of USD 62m. Colo Colo’s share price is increasing all the time and today it is the most prosperous club in Chile, if not the whole continent. The most distinguished figures in Chilean business have become involved in the clubs of the country, which has produced players such as Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano.
Colombia’s new head coach was named at the end of 2006. The man appointed to the post, Jorge Luis Pinto, is native of Colombia and has a highy respectable record as a coach, despite never having played professionally. He won the Peruvian league with Alianza Lima in 1997, guided Liga Deportiva Alajuense to two consecutive Costa Rican league championship (2002, 2003) and clinched the Colombian league with Cucuta just one week after being appointed head coach of his country.