The Copa Interamericana (English: Interamerican Cup) was an annual club football competition organized by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) since 1969. It was discontinued in 1998 after CONCACAF clubs, particularly those from Mexico, began participating in CONMEBOL competitions. The Interamerican Cup was founded as a result of the refusal from CONMEBOL and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) of allowing CONCACAF clubs, as well as those from other confederations, to participate in the European/South American Cup, later known as the Toyota Cup and informally called the Intercontinental Cup.
The competition was supposed to be contested between the winners of the North American CONCACAF Champions Cup and the South American Copa Libertadores tournaments although the participants have varied at times. The format of the competition was extremely sporadic. From its formation, the competition was usually contested over a two legged tie, with a playoff if necessary until 1968, and penalty kicks later. However, it was common for several consecutive editions to go undisputed. Of the 17 competitions played out, four of them were disputed over several matches in just one venue. Two others were held in a single match. Another two editions had participants that didn't outright qualify to dispute the competition. Most of the editions were disputed one, and sometimes two, years after the participants have qualified to dispute it. This was the result of the lack of financial incentives and the low relevance of the competition.
The 17 Interamerican Cup tournaments have been won by 13 different club teams. Argentine side Independiente has won a record three titles. The last winner of the cup was American side D.C. United, defeating Brazilian side Vasco da Gama 2-1 in aggregate in 1998. Argentina has been the most successful national league with seven titles while Uruguayan outfit Nacional shares with Independiente the record for the most appearances with three each.
In 1969, an agreement came between the confederations of South America (CONMEBOL) and Central and North America (CONCACAF) to dispute an annual competition, the Interamerican Cup, which pits the champions of those two confederations in a format similar to the Intercontinental Cup. The first edition was disputed between Estudiantes and Mexican club Toluca in which each team won 2-1 in their away legs. The playoff in Montevideo proved to be the tie-breaker as Estudiantes won a violent match 2-0. This promising start did little to help the competition; due to the difference in interests between the clubs involved, the Interamerican Cup had an even more sporadic lifeline than the Intercontinental Cup; sometimes, years would go without it being played. The second edition was played four years later, in 1971, which saw Nacional edged Mexican side Cruz Azul 3-2 on aggregate. Independiente would become the only club to win the competition three times in a row, from 1972 to 1974, after seeing off Honduran club Olimpia, Guatemalan club Municipal and Mexican side Atlético Español, the last two after a penalty shoot-out. Mexico's América broke the South American hegemony after beating Boca Juniors in a play-off match in 1977. As a result of this victory, the Mexican squad argued that it had the right to participate in the Intercontinental Cup of that year; however, they were denied the opportunity. Paraguay's Olimpia returned the trophy back south in 1980 with a victory over El Salvador's FAS but Club Universidad Nacional of Mexico City defeating Uruguay's Nacional to win CONCACAF's second title.
The competition entered a state of hiatus again, this time for five years. In 1986, Argentinos Juniors would defeat Defence Force of Trinidad and Tobago in a single-match final. River Plate would keep the trophy in Argentina, for the second year running, defeating Costa Rican side Alajuelense. Uruguay's Nacional would trounce Honduras' Olimpia 5-1 on aggregate the following year. Colombia's Atlético Nacional made short work of Club Universidad Nacional; however, South America hegemony would once again be broken by América after defeating Paraguay's Olimpia. Compatriots Puebla failed to retain the trophy in Mexico after being routed by Chile'sColo-Colo. The importance of the competition decreased significantly after two Brazilian clubs, Copa Libertadores winners São Paulo (1993) and Grêmio (1995) declined to participate out of disinterest; both times, the Copa Libertadores runners-up, Chilean side Universidad Católica and Atlético Nacional took their place; each of them were pushed to the limit by Costa Rica's Saprissa. Vélez Sársfield beat Costa Rican club Cartaginés in 1994 while the last Interamerican Cup, held in 1998, saw American club D.C. United beat Vasco da Gama.
The Interamerican Cup was abolished in 1998 when Mexican clubs began to participate in the Copa Libertadores and other CONCACAF teams participated in the Copa Sudamericana. Since 2005, when FIFA adopted for the Club World Championship format clash between the champions of all continental confederations, the champions of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL again have the opportunity to meet.