INTERLIGA TO BE SCRAPPED: FMF to Free up Schedule, Streamline Qualification Process

INTERLIGA TO BE SCRAPPED: FMF to Free up Schedule, Streamline Qualification Process

The annual January InterLiga tournament, designed to get Mexican club teams to vie for two Copa Libertadores slots, will be scrapped according to the Mexican League Secretary General Decio De Maria.

“We have to evolve,” De Maria said in a press conference. “The [InterLiga] games were strong but they also had their drawbacks. Vacations were cut short. The two teams who got to the end got their very closely.”

The tournament, which contested it’s 6th edition in January, was usually a hit and miss success. The tournament began in 2004 with many venues being used across the American sun belt, but eventually InterLiga would settle in at three venues: the Home Depot Center in Carson California, Pizza Hut Park in Frisco Texas and Robertson Stadium in Houston Texas. Matches played at the Home Depot were usually well attended but those hosted in Houston and Dallas were not.

More than just attendance figures played into the FMF’s decision, however.

“InterLiga has many good things. The games were strong but they also had their drawbacks. Vacations were cut short.” said De Maria, who suggested that league points should determine the entrants to the South American version of the Champions League.

“Let’s put value in the points made during league, much like it was with Morelia.” Morellia finished 3rd on points during the previous season and guaranteed themselves a place in the 2010 Copa Libertadores, but the other two spots came from InterLiga.

“The three teams with the most number of points in the regular season through the Apertura season will be those who go directly to Copa Libertadores, aside from the four who will compete in CONCACAF” De Maria said.

Streamlining a very convoluted and time consuming qualification process for all the International continental club competitions Mexican teams are involved in, seems long overdue.

With the tournament being an 8 team one, just about every Mexican top fight club had a chance to get into the InterLiga. Making for some teams being entered that wouldn’t draw well at the gate and some which were hopelessly outmatched.

Qualified teams were the eight best-positioned teams in the 2009 Apertura general table who did not qualify for the 2010 Copa Libertadores directly and did not qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League from the previous season.

Apertura and Clausura Champions go directly to the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, while the runners up from both seasons go to the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying stage. That eliminated four teams from the Mexican League that could participate in InterLiga.

The team with the best points total that did not get into the CONCACAF Champions League would get a spot in the Group stages of Copa Libertadores, then the next 8 best points total of the remaining league teams made up the field for the InterLiga.

The result of this, using the 2009-10 season as an example, is that only 3 FMF teams didn’t have the opportunity to play in either the CONCACAF Champions League, Copa Libertadores or the InterLiga, all other teams did.

The new points based qualification system must still be ratified when the league owners meet next month. No word has been released from American marketing partner SUM Marketing, who helped design, organize and promote the InterLiga.

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