The Americas’ claim to football fame – Copa America – once began as a South American tournament. Since then it has expanded to include North American and Asian countries. The United States played host in the 2016 games, however, the match will return to its Latin American roots this year when Brazil will be hosting the 2019 tournament. The nation that boasts eight Copa America wins will have the opportunity to play on their home turf now.
The 2019 tournament will have 16 teams. This is what you should know about this sports event.
How did Copa America start?
It was originally known as South American Football Championship, or Campeonato Sudamericano de Fútbol, since its start in 1916. In 1975, the competition was named Copa America. The competition has remained the oldest international football tournament with most of the teams being part of CONMEBOL, known as Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol (South American Football Confederation). Originally, CONMEBOL held 10 members but the tournament has expanded to invite more teams.
Which teams excel?
Chile won the past two Copa America competitions in 2015 and 2016. Argentina frequently plays well, making it to the finals, however, has not won a championship since the 1990s. Uruguay is the country that has won more championships than any other team in history, with up to 15 trophies. Brazil has also well performed in the past 20 years with four championship titles.
What was so special about the 2016 tournament?
The 2016 tournament hosted a special centennial edition that is known as the Copa America Centenario. The final had a completely sold out crowd, with more than 81,000 fans in the stands. People flocked to the U.S. that hosted the game to watch the match between Argentina, ranked first by FIFA, and Chile, ranked fifth, going head to head for this much-coveted title. And certainly, Barcelona and Argentina fans were thrilled to see their hero Lionel Messi take the field as World Player of the Year.
Internationally, there are 25 million kids playing football every year, and this Copa America is one of the world’s events that ignite a passion for the sport. As 2019 approaches, football fans will be eager once again to gather in support of their favorite teams and players.