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Mexican clubs could return to Copa Libertadores as soon as 2022

The official announcement could be made by May 2021 if approved by club owners

Flamengo v River Plate - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2019 Photo by Daniel Apuy/Getty Images

The last time a Liga MX club saw action in a Copa Libertadores match was all the way back in 2016. That team was Pumas, when they failed to move past the QF round, falling victims to Colombian club Independiente del Valle in a penalty shoot-out in the Estadio Olímpico Universitario. A month later, the Mexican NT would participate in the Copa América Centenario 2016 taking place in the United States, in which the infamous 0-7 thrashing to the hands of Chile would ensue. Since then, Mexico has rescinded any sort of participation in any South American (or CONMEBOL) tournament, be it club or NT.

However, that could change very quickly in the coming months, as reports have surfaced of a plan that has already been presented to the Liga MX owners, and is just awaiting approval, so that if so, the announcement of Mexico’s reintegration to said tournaments can be announced as soon as May of next year. But said proposal doesn’t just include the Copa Libertadores; it includes a possible return to the Copa Sudamericana, as well as a Liga MX - MLS joint tournament. So, just how would the qualifying teams be determined for each competition?

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (4 SPOTS)

As Mexico does belong to the CONCACAF football zone, they must stay true to sending their best clubs to said tournament as a requirement from the North and Central American Football Conferedation. So, nothing would change here. The two finalists from each season would make up the four teams that qualify for the CCL. If a same club reaches both Finals, the fourth team would be decided by the club who had the most points in the football year but didn’t reach a Final. In other words, exactly the way the rule is today.

COPA LIBERTADORES (3 SPOTS)

The clubs who would make up the Libertadores list are the three teams with the most points obtained during the football year who don’t have a place in the CONCACAF CL.

COPA SUDAMERICANA (3 SPOTS)

The clubs who make up this list will be taken from the following three teams who had the most points in the football year who didn’t make either the CONCACAF CL or the Copa Libertadores.

LIGA MX - MLS JOINT TOURNAMENT (8 SPOTS)

After the 10 best clubs in the football year will have been placed in either of the three aforementioned competitions, the 8 remaining squads from Liga MX will enter a tournament in conjunction with MLS of which details are yet to be provided. The one detail that has been apparently reported is that the winner of said tournament would take home a grand prize of $2 million USD. This would of course incentivize participating clubs to actually play to their full potential, instead of using it as a warm-up for the following domestic season. Not bad for being one of the worst 8 clubs in your domestic league.

In conclusion, a very interesting and positive proposal, as all 18 Liga MX franchises would have something to play for. Many fans remember both the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana fondly, and are aware that the former is the best and most competitive tournament in the entire continent. There lays the reasoning behind why everyone has so anxiously awaited Mexico’s return to said tournament. It is a whole different world when you get to see your club go head-to-head with the continent’s best. If the owners approve the proposal (and they should), Mexico could be back for the 2022 edition.