South America keen to keep single qualifying group

ASUNCION, April 28 (Reuters) - South America hopes to retain the format of a single qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, a regional soccer official said on Wednesday.

This system has been used by the 10-nation South American Football Confederation (CSF) for the last four World Cups.

"We have to see if FIFA authorises it...We're going to put it to them after the World Cup in South Africa," CSF general secretary Eduardo Deluca said at the body's Paraguayan headquarters.

"We're all agreed we want to carry on playing and qualifying as we've been doing because we believe it's the most sporting way," he told reporters.

South America has four automatic berths at the finals and a possible fifth through a playoff.

Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina, in that order, qualified directly for this year's finals starting on June 11 after 18 rounds of matches over two years.

Uruguay joined them after winning a playoff against Costa Rica of the CONCACAF region.

With Brazil going automatically into the 2014 finals as hosts, the qualifiers would involve 16 matches per team instead of 18.

COPA AMERICA

The CSF also said Brazil were responsible for the staging of the 2015 Copa America and it was up to them if they passed it on to Chile but denied a claim by Bolivia's President Evo Morales that his country would host the event.

"The 2015 Copa America pertains to Brazil by rotation...I know they are talking to the people of Chile and they may make a deal with Chile but that's an issue for them to discuss," Deluca said.

"It's not a matter for the executive committee...Bolivia's turn will come with the rotation," he said of Morales's announcement on Tuesday.

Brazil have discussed with Chile, whose turn follows theirs, passing the tournament to them because they are hosting the World Cup and Olympic Games in the years before and after.

However, the massive earthquake on February 27, which devastated large areas of south-central Chile and killed nearly 500 people, cast doubts on their capacity to take on the venture.

The South American championship, more commonly known by the name of its trophy, has been rotated since 1987 starting with Argentina, whose turn comes around again next year. Brazil last staged the tournament in 1989, Chile in 1991 and Bolivia in 1997.


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