Copa America 2007 – Blatter’s Visit
Although they only reached the quarter-final stage, another highlight of the tournament was Peru’s attacking trio of Claudio Pizarro and Paolo Guerrero up front and Jefferson Farfan in a withdrawn role, who played some very attractive football but were dealt a terrible blow when the latter was injured. This year’s Copa America will also be remembered for Paraguay’s heavy 6-0 defeat against Mexico in the quarter-finals (following the award of a penalty and sending-off of their goalkeeper, Bobadilla), which overshadowed the Guaranis’ fine performances in the group stage, in which they were rock solid in defence and powerful in attack thanks to the fearsome strike force of Roque Santa Cruz, Oscar Cardozo and Salvador Cabanas. However, in a repetition of events at the World Cup in Germany one year ago, first-choice keeper Justo Villar suffered an injury and had to be replaced.
Perhaps the tournament’s biggest disappointments were Ecuador, who were unable to find the form they showed at last year’s World Cup and were knocked out in the group stages after losing all their matches, mainly due to a lack of concentration at key moments. Greater things were also expected of Chile, particularly since the spine of the team was made up of players from the winners of the last three Chilean championships, Colo Colo, but apart from a few highlights such as Humberto Suazo’s beauty of a goal against Brazil (their only strike in a 6-1 defeat), the Chileans gave a disappointing account of themselves before being enveloped in an internal crisis that led to the departure of coach Nelson Acosta.
Despite the fact that Venezuela had little experience of organising tournaments of this calibre, the country proved that it was up to the challenge, which gave it the confidence to ask FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter about its chances of hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup one day, something which FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter deemed feasible in a meeting with the press in Maracaibo.
All in all, the investment of more than USD 800 million in infrastructure produced stadiums on a par with the best in Europe, which although not all completely finished at least demonstrated the organisers’ will to meet fans’ expectations. More work is also required in areas such as aticketing and the facilities in some host cities also need improvement, particularly in the capital, Caracas, which, judging by the thousands of fans who flocked to the only game played there (the third-place play-off between Mexico and Uruguay), needs a stadium with a larger capacity.