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Mexico pass on 2017 Libertadores after calendar change

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will not enter teams in the South American Copa Libertadores next year owing to a clash in the calendar, Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla said on Friday.

South American football organisation CONMEBOL decided this year to lengthen its elite club competition, equivalent to the UEFA Champions League, to almost the full calendar year whereas previously it has been played from February to July.

Mexico, from the northern CONCACAF region, have entered teams on invitation since 1998, with three reaching the final, and Bonilla said his country would work with CONMEBOL in an effort to try and return to the competition in 2018.

"On the 27th of September we were informed the competition calendar would be from February to November," said Bonilla. “This clashes with the last phase of our Apertura championship.

"We ask CONMEBOL to work jointly during 2017 to look at the possibility of taking part normally in 2018."

Paraguay-based CONMEBOL, which changed the Libertadores calendar and that of its sister tournament Copa Sudamericana in a bid to improve both, said in a statement the door would remain open to Mexico and it would analyse a way forward for the return of their teams.

Bonilla said he did not consider Mexico's decision was a backward step and was sure CONMEBOL would continue to invite the national team to its flagship Copa America tournament.

(Reporting by Carlos Calvo; Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Tony Jimenez)


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