Liga MX clubs will not participate in the 2017 Copa Libertadores, South America's club championship, league president Enrique Bonilla announced Friday.
Clubs from Mexico have participated in the tournament since 1998, with the Mexican market representing a large television audience for CONMEBOL. But a format change announced this season that originally seemed to benefit Mexican clubs, with more inclusive regulations for hosting matches including the final, will see teams pull out.
The tournament now will run from February to November, which Bonilla said will put it in conflict with the league's Clausura playoffs, plus the Confederations Cup, Gold Cup, summer break and preseason ahead of the second tournament of the year.
"The decision was made on Nov. 2 to ask CONMEBOL not to participate in the 2017 edition, but we're working to return in 2018," Bonilla said in a news conference Friday.
The president said the third Mexico team would have to play four games in less than a month with the new format, including two in South America - something that would greatly affect the teams' ability to compete in the league. There were other proposals, including to let the teams play the games on international breaks without international players, but the league and CONMEBOL couldn't reach a compromise.
Bonilla left the possibility open of returning to the tournament as soon as 2018 if a solution is found, calling his meetings with CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez productive.
"Things have been open with President Dominguez, and I see it as a positive one," Bonilla said. "It will bear fruit in the future."
In a statement, Dominguez also was hopeful that Mexico could return in 2018, calling this a sabatical year and thanking Bonilla and the league's directors for their professionalism during the process.
"In the future we hope to keep working alongside Mexico, united in the mutual intrest of promoting the development of soccer in the Americas," Dominugez said.