The current Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana official logo, in use since 2011
|Region||South America (CONMEBOL)|
|Number of teams||47|
|Current champions||São Paulo (1st title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Boca Juniors (2 titles)|
|2012 Copa Sudamericana|
The Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkopa ˈβɾitʃsto(u)n suðameɾiˈkana]; Portuguese: Copa Bridgestone Sul-Americana [ˈkɔpɐ ˈbɾidʒistõ(w) ˈsuw ɐmeɾiˈkɐnɐ]), known simply as the Copa Sudamericana (Portuguese: Copa Sul-Americana), is an annual international club football competition organized by the CONMEBOL since 2002. It is the second most prestigious club competition in South American football. CONCACAF clubs were invited between 2004 and 2008. The Copa Sudamerican began in 2002, replacing the separate competitions Copa Merconorte and Copa Mercosur by a single competition. Since its introduction, the competition has been a pure elimination tournament with the number of rounds and teams varying from year to year.
The Copa Sudamericana is considered a merger of defunct tournaments such as the Copa CONMEBOL, Copa Mercosur and Copa Merconorte. In the present format, the tournament consists of seven stages, with the first stage taking place in early August. The sixteen surviving teams from the first stage contest eight entries into the final four stages, as well as the six Argentine and eight Brazilian clubs that, nationally, dispute three and four slots, respectively. The fifteen second stage winners enter the final four stages along with the defending champions, better known as the knockout stages, which ends with the finals anywhere between November and December. The winner of the Copa Sudamericana becomes eligible to play in the Recopa Sudamericana. They also gain entry onto the next edition of the Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club competition. They also contest the Suruga Bank Championship.
The reigning champion of the competition is Brazilian club São Paulo. Argentine club Boca Juniors is the most successful club in the cup history, having won the tournament twice. Argentine clubs have accumulated the most amount of victories with five wins while containing the largest number of different winning teams, with a total of four clubs having won the title. The cup has been won by ten different clubs and won consecutively once, most recently by Boca Juniors in 2005.
In 1992, the Copa CONMEBOL was an international football tournament created for South American clubs that did not qualify for the Copa Libertadores and Supercopa Sudamericana. This tournament was discontinued in 1999 and replaced by the Copa Merconorte and Copa Mercosur. These tournaments started in 1998 but were discontinued in 2001. A Pan-American club cup competition was intended, under the name of Copa Pan-Americana, but instead, the Copa Sudamericana was introduced in 2002 as a single-elimination tournament with the reigning Copa Mercosur champion, San Lorenzo.
In 2003, the Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan Motors started sponsoring the tournament. Thus, the competition has since been officially called Copa Nissan Sudamericana, much in the style of the Copa Libertadores branding as Copa Toyota Libertadores at the time. Also, Brazilian teams participated for the first time.
The 2003 tournament was swept through by the surprising Cienciano as Germán Carty's goals took los imperiales to the first international title won by a Peruvian club. In the finals, Cienciano managed to hold the powerful River Plate 3-3 in Buenos Aires and managed to come up on top 1-0 on national soil to claim the spoils. After a disappointing 2004 season, Boca Juniors managed to regain some composure as they won the trophy consecutively in 2004 and 2005 defeating Bolívar and UNAM, respectively. After the failures of UNAM and Cruz Azul in the 2001 season of the Copa Libertadores, Mexican football finally managed to inscribe themselves in the list of winners of South American club football as Pachuca defeated Colo-Colo, led by two magnificent figures such Matías Fernández and Humberto Suazo. In a highly-charged atmoshere in Santiago's Estadio Nacional, Suazo brought the home team one up on the scoreboard but two second half goals from Damián Álvarez and Christian Giménez sealed the victory for a highly-spirited team. Their compatriots, América, tried to emulate their success but las águilas fell short on the 2007 final as Arsenal won the title thanks to a late and inspirational strike by Martín Andrizzi seven minutes from full-time in the second leg.
Having already won the Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana, Internacional, with goals from Alex and Nilmar, became the first Brazilian team to win the cup, after an unbeaten campaign that includes eliminating their archrivals Grêmio, defeating Boca Juniors at the Bombonera, and then defeating Estudiantes in the final. In a rematch of the 2008 final of the Copa Libertadores, LDU Quito[disambiguation needed] defeated Fluminense in the finals of the 2009 edition. Just like in their previous triumph, los albos lifted the trophy in the legendary Estádio do Maracanã to earn their third international title in history (as well as their nations). Argentina's Independiente won the 2010 competition after defeating Goiás of Brazil by penalties in the final.
As of 2012, most teams qualify to the Copa Sudamericana by virtue of their performance on half-year tournaments called the Apertura and Clausura tournaments, by finishing among the top teams in their championship, or by being the best teams from previous season that did not qualify for the Copa Libertadores. The countries that use this format are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela. Chile and Ecuador have developed new formats for qualification to the Copa Libertadores involving several stages. Brazil is the only South American league to use a European league format instead of the Apertura and Clausura format. Peru allocates its entries similar to Brazil. Venezuela uses a second tournament to determine who qualifies to the Copa Sudamericana.
The first, second and final stages of the competition is currently contested by the following:
|North & South Zone||
The winners of the previous season's Copa Sudamericana, i.e., the title holder, are given an additional entry if they do not qualify for the tournament through their domestic performance; however, if the title holder qualify for the tournament through their domestic performance, an additional entry would be granted to the next eligible team, "replacing" the title holder.
Unlike most other competitions around the world, South American club football competitions historically did not use extra time, an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw, or away goals, a method of breaking ties in football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground, to decide a tie that was level on aggregate. The "Three points for a win" standard, a system adopted by FIFA in 1995 that places additional value on wins, was adopted in CONMEBOL that same year, with teams earning 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss.
The current tournament features 38 clubs competing over a six to eight month period. There are three stages: the first stage, the second stage and the final stage.
The first stage pits a number of clubs, currently 32, in series of two-legged knockout ties. The clubs are separated into two geographic bases: the North Zone (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela) and the South Zone (Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay). The sixteen survivors will face each other in the North & South Zone of the second stage, again in series of two-legged knockout ties. Six teams from Argentina and eight clubs from Brazil will also contest, locally, two-legged knockout ties in the Argentina zone and Brazil zone. The eight winners from the North & Zone, the three winners of the Argentina zone and four winners of the Brazil zone will join the defending champions in the round of 16. From that point, the competition proceeds with two-legged knockout ties to quarterfinals, semifinals, and the finals.
Since 2002, the winner of the tournament participate in the Recopa Sudamericana, a two-legged final series against the winners of the Copa Libertadores. Since 2008, the winner plays in the Suruga Bank Championship, a match of friendly characteristics endorsed by the Japan Football Association (JFA) and CONMEBOL. It is contested against the winners of the J. League Cup. The winning team also qualifies to play in the next Copa Libertadores, an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 1960. It is the most prestigious club competition in South American football. If the winners of the Copa Sudamericana do not qualify for the Copa Libertadores through their domestic performance, this entry will come at the expense of the last-placed team of their association in that competition.
The tournament shares its name with the trophy, also called the Copa Sudamericana or simply la Sudamericana, which is awarded to the Copa Sudamericana winner.
The regulations for the Copa Sudamericana trophy follows very closely those of the Copa Libertadores trophy. Copa Sudamericana winners keep the real trophy in their possession. It remains so until the draw and seeding of the next Copa Sudamericana begins. Before the proceedings happen, the club president of the defending champion will return the trophy to the president of CONMEBOL and a replica trophy is awarded to the winning club. Winning clubs are also permitted to make exact replicas of their own.
As well as winning the right to keep the trophy until the start of the next tournament, the winner gets to have a metal badge of silver placed on the pedestal of the trophy. The badge has the name of the winner and the year of the triumph. At the top of the cup, there is a silver ball with light-silver stars and pentagons. In the middle, the CONMEBOL logo is held together by two hoists, while the phrase "COPA SUDAMERICANA" can be read from the top.
La Otra Mitad de La Gloria
La Otra Mitad de La Gloria (The other half of glory) is a promotional Spanish phrase used in the context of winning or attempting on winning the Copa Sudamericana. It is a term widely used by Latin American media. The tournament itself has become highly regarded among its participants since its inception. In 2004, Cienciano's conquest of the trophy ignited a party across Peru. The Mexican football federation regards Pachuca's victory in 2006 as the most important title won by any Mexican club. Sports Illustrated qualified Arsenal, unlikely contenders for the 2007 edition, as "the underdog that couldn't be stopped".
Like the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana is sponsored by a group of multinational corporations. Like the premier South American club football tournament forementioned, the competition uses a single, main sponsor; it is currently primarily sponsored by Bridgestone Corporation, a multinational rubber conglomerate headquartered in Japan. As the main sponsor of the tournament, the competition will carry the name of the bank. Thus, the competition is known officially as the '"Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana'". The first major sponsor was Nissan Motors who signed a 8 year contract with CONMEBOL in 2003.
However, the competition has had many secondary sponsors that invest in the tournament as well. Many of these sponsors are nationally based but have expanded to other nations. Nike supplies the official match ball, as they do for all other CONMEBOL competitions. Embratel, a brand of Telmex, is the only telecommunications sponsor of the tournament. Individual clubs may wear jerseys with advertising, even if such sponsors conflict with those of the Copa Sudamericana.
The tournament's current secondary sponsors and brands advertised (in italic) are:
The match ball for the Copa Sudamericana, manufactured by Nike, is named the Total 90 Omni CSF. It is one of the many balls produced by the American sports equipment maker for CONMEBOL, replacing the Mercurial Veloci Hi-Vis in 2009. The ball, approved by FIFA and weighting approximately 422 g, has a spherical shape that allows the ball to fly faster, farther, and more accurately. According to Nike, the ball's geometric precision distributes pressure evenly across panels and around the ball. The compressed polyethylene layer stores energy from impact and releases it at launch, and the 6-wing carbon-latex air chamber improves acceleration. Another feature of the ball is its rubber layer; it was designed to allow a better response while retaining the impact energy and releases it in the coup. Its support material of cross-linked nitrogen-expanded foam improves its retention and durability of its shape. Polyester support fabric enhances structure and stability. The asymmetrical high-contrast graphic around the ball creates an optimal flicker as the ball rotates for a more powerful visual signal, allowing the player to more easily identify and track the ball.
Clubs in the Copa Sudamericana receive $400,000 for qualifying for the competition. Afterwards, each club earns $90,000 per home match. That amount is derived from television rights and stadium advertising. In addition, CONMEBOL pays $500,000 to the winners.
Records and statistics
Claudio Morel Rodríguez is the only player to have won three Copa Sudamericana winners' medals. The overall top goalscorer in Copa Sudamericana history is Eduardo Vargas, scorer of 11 goals. Vargas also holds the record for the most goals scored in a single Copa Sudamericana. All his 11 goals were scored in the 2011 tournament.
No coach has won the tournament more than once. All Copa Sudamericana winning head coaches were natives of the country they coached to victory except for Jorge Fossati and Jorge Sampaoli. Fossati, from Uruguay, coached Ecuadorian club LDU Quito to triumph in 2009, while Sampaoli, from Argentina, coached Chilean club Universidad de Chile to triumph in 2011. Mexican manager Enrique Meza coached Pachuca to win the 2006 edition, the only non-South American manager to win the title.
As of the end of the 2009 tournament, San Lorenzo has played 32 matches, the most by any team. LDU Quito have scored the most goals, netting 57. LDU Quito is the only team to be in the semifinals four times, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011. 
Argentina is the country with more finalists ever, with eight appearances: San Lorenzo in 2002, River Plate in 2003, Boca Juniors in 2004 and 2005, Arsenal in 2007, Estudiantes in 2008, Independiente in 2010 and Tigre in 2012.
|Team||Winners||Runners-Up||Years Won||Years Runner-Up|
|Boca Juniors||2||0||2004, 2005||
|Universidad de Chile||1||0||2011||
Setanta Sports Australia broadcasts live Copa matches in Australia.
- International club competition records
- Supercopa Sudamericana
- Copa CONMEBOL
- Copa Mercosur
- Copa Merconorte
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- Información sobre la Copa Conmebol
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- Agosto abre el noveno capítulo de un torneo que se hace mayor
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- "Tiny Arsenal was underdog that couldn't be stopped". Sports Illustrated. December 6, 2007. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
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- "Image of the 2010 Copa Sudamericana draw with its sponsors clearly represented". Caracas Futbol Club. March 9, 2006. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- (Portuguese) "Netshoes - Bola Nike Total 90 Omni CSF - Copa Libertadores". Netshoes. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
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- "Copa Sudamericana: Goias e Independiente juegan la final. U$ 5.000.000 en disputa". Impulso. December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
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- "Historical table". RSSSF. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Copa Sudamericana|
- Conmebol.com Official Site of the Copa Nissan Sudamericana. (Spanish)
- Copa Sudamericana results at RSSSF.com
- Copa Sudamericana at worldfootball.net
- Current Copa Sudamericana News
- Copa Sudamericana en Univision (Spanish)