|Region||South America (CONMEBOL)|
|Number of teams||12|
|Related competitions||FIFA Confederations Cup|
|Current champions||Chile (1st title)|
|Most successful team(s)||Uruguay (15 titles)|
|Website||2015 Copa América|
|2015 Copa América|
Chile, current champions of the Copa América.
The Copa América (Spanish and Portuguese for "America Cup"), formerly known as the South American Football Championship (Campeonato Sud Americano de Football in Spanish), is an international football competition contested between the men's national football teams of CONMEBOL, determining the continental champion of South America. It is the oldest international continental football competition.
The current tournament format, established in 1993, involves twelve teams competing at venues in a host nation over a period of one month. As the confederation has only ten members, national teams from other FIFA confederations are invited to fill two other spaces, creating a 12-member group stage with three groups of four teams. From 1993 through 2015, five teams from CONCACAF and one team from AFC have participated. The nine appearances by Mexico (CONCACAF) are the most appearances for a non-CONMEBOL teams, while their two runner-up finishes are the highest for an invitee.
In 44 tournaments since 1916, eight of the ten CONMEBOL national teams have won the title, with only Ecuador and Venezuela yet to win. Uruguay has the most championships, with 15, while the current (2015) champion is Chile.
The Copa América is one of the most prestigious and most widely viewed sporting events in the world. The highest finishing member of CONMEBOL has the right to participate in the next edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but is not obligated to do so.
The first recorded football match in South America was played in Argentina in 1867 by British railway workers. The first football team in South America, Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata was created in Argentina in 1887, and the Argentine Football Association was founded in 1893. By the early 20th century, football was growing in popularity, and the first international competition held between national teams of the continent occurred in 1910 when Argentina organized an event to commemorate the centenary of the May Revolution. Chile and Uruguay participated, but this event is not considered official by CONMEBOL. Similarly, for the centennial celebration of its independence, Argentina held a tournament between July 2 and July 17 of 1916 with Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil being the first participants of the tournament. This so-called Campeonato Sudamericano de Football would be the first edition of what is currently known as Copa América; Uruguay would triumph in this first edition after tying 0–0 with hosts Argentina in the deciding, last match held in Estadio Racing Club in Avellaneda.
Seeing the success of the tournament, a boardmember of the Uruguayan Football Association, Héctor Rivadavia, proposed the establishment of a confederation of the associations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, and on July 9, independence day in Argentina, CONMEBOL was founded. The following year, the competition was played again, this time in Uruguay. Uruguay would win the title again to win their bicampeonato after defeating Argentina 1–0 in the last match of the tournament. The success of the tournament on Charrúan soil would help consolidate the tournament. After a flu outbreak in Rio de Janeiro canceled the tournament in 1918, Brazil hosted the tournament in 1919 and was crowned champion for the first time after defeating the defending champions 1–0 in a playoff match to decide the title, while the Chilean city of Viña del Mar would host the 1920 event which was won by Uruguay.
For the 1921 event, Paraguay participated for the first time after its football association affiliated to CONMEBOL earlier that same year. Argentina won the competition for the first time thanks to the goals of Julio Libonatti. In subsequent years, Uruguay would dominate the tournament, which at that time was the largest football tournament in the world. Argentina, however, would not be far behind and disputed the supremacy with the Charruas. After losing the 1928 final at the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, Argentina would gain revenge in the 1929 South American Championship by defeating the Uruguayans in the last, decisive match. During this period, both Bolivia and Peru debuted in the tournament in 1926 and 1927, respectively.
Disorganization and intermittency
After the first World Cup held in Uruguay in 1930, the enmity between the football federations of Uruguay and Argentina prevented the competition from being played for a number of years. Only in 1935 was it possible to dispute a special edition of the event to be officially reinstated in 1939. Peru became the host nation of the 1939 edition and won the competition for the first. Ecuador made their debut at that tournament.
In 1941, Chile hosted that year's edition in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Santiago for which the capacity of the newly built Estadio Nacional was expanded from 30,000 to 70,000 spectators. Despite the large investment and initial success of the team, the Chileans would be defeated in the last match by eventual champions Argentina. Uruguay hosted and won the 1942 edition. Chile would host again in 1945 only to come agonizingly close to disputing the title with Argentina only for Brazil to spoil the possibility; Argentina would win the tournament once again on Chilean soil.
The event entered a period of great disruption. The championship was not played on a regular basis and many editions would be deemed unofficial, only to be considered valid later on by CONMEBOL. For example, Argentina would be the first (and so far only) team to win three consecutive titles by winning the championships of 1945, 1946 and 1947. After those three annual tournaments, the competition returned to being held every two years, then three and later four. There were even two tournaments held in 1959, one in Argentina and a second in Ecuador. During this period, some of the national teams were indifferent to the tournament. Some did not participate every year, others sent lesser teams; in the 1959 edition held in Ecuador, Brazil entered a team from the state of Pernambuco. Bolivia won for the first time when it hosted in 1963, but was defeated in the first game of the 1967 tournament by debutant Venezuela. The founding of the Copa Libertadores in 1959 also affected the way the tournament was viewed by its participants.
After eight years of absence, the event resumed in 1975 and officially acquired the name Copa América. The tournament had no fixed venue, and all matches were played throughout the year in each country. Nine teams participated in the group stages with the defending champions receiving a bye into the semifinals. The tournament was contested every four years using this system until 1987.
In 1986, CONMEBOL decided to return to having one country host the tournament and to contest it every other year. From 1987 until 2001, the event was hosted every two years in rotation by the ten members of the confederation. The format would remain constant with a first round of groups, but the final round stage ranged from being a new, final round-robin group or a single-elimination system to decide the winner. This renewal helped the tournament, which began television coverage in Europe and North America. The 1987 Copa América was held in Argentina; this was the first time the nation had hosted an edition in 28 years. Despite entering as heavy favorites for being the reigning world champions (having won the 1986 FIFA World Cup), playing at home and having a team largely composed of its World Cup winners led by the legendary Diego Maradona, Argentina would finish in a disappointing fourth place after being beaten by defending champions Uruguay 0–1 in the semifinals. Uruguay would defeat a surprisingly strong Chilean squad who made it to the final, disposing of the powerful Brazil 4–0 on the group stage.
Brazil lifted its first official international title since the 1970 FIFA World Cup after winning the 1989 Copa América held on home soil. Argentina, in turn, won the Copa América after 32 long years in 1991 in Chile, thanks to a refreshed squad led by the prolific goalscorer Gabriel Batistuta. The 1993 Copa América tournament in Ecuador would take its current form. Along with the usual ten teams, CONMEBOL invited two countries from CONCACAF to participate, Mexico and the United States.
Uruguay managed to win, as host, the competition in 1995 ending a period of decline for Uruguayan football. With the implementation of rotating hosts, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela hosted the tournament for the first time. Brazil entered a successful series of victories, winning four of the five continental titles between 1997 and 2007. The first, in 1997, was won after defeating host nation Bolivia 1–3 with goals from Leonardo, Denílson and Ronaldo becoming crucial in the Verde-Amarela's consagration on Bolivia's altitude. Brazil would successfully defend the title in 1999 after thumping Uruguay 3–0 in Asuncion, Paraguay. However, the 2001 Copa América saw one of the biggest surprises of the history of the sport as Honduras eliminated Brazil in the quarterfinals. Colombia, the host nation, would go on to win the competition for the first time ever.
Ruing from the embarrassing performance in 2001, Brazil reestablished itself in the South American pantheon after defeating Argentina, on penalties, in order to win the 2004 competition held in Peru. Three years later, the two teams met again in the final, this time in Venezuela. Once again, Brazil came out victorious after crushing Argentina 3–0.
Argentina hosted the 2011 competition and was ousted by Uruguay in the quarterfinals by penalty shootout. Uruguay would go on defeating Peru 2–0 in the semis to reach the finals and overpower Paraguay 3–0, thus winning the trophy on Argentinean soil for the third time and second in a row. This, the 43rd edition, was the first time that neither Argentina nor Brazil reached the semifinals stage in the tournament.
In 1984, CONMEBOL adopted the policy of rotating the right to host the Copa América amongst the ten member confederations. The first rotation has now been completed following the 2007 Copa América which took place in Venezuela. A second rotation has been agreed to begin in 2011, with host countries rotating in alphabetical order, starting with Argentina. Chile, México and the United States expressed interest in hosting the next tournament, but the CONMEBOL Executive Committee decided to continue the execution of the rotation, giving priority of the organization to each of its member associations; each association confirms whether they will host an edition or not, having no obligation to do so. Argentina confirmed on November 24, 2008, via representatives of the Argentine Football Association, that it would host the 2011 Copa América.
The 2015 Copa América was due to be held in Brazil following the order of rotation. However, the hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in that nation resulted in the decision being reconsidered. Although CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz proposed hosting the continental tournament in Mexico (a member of the CONCACAF federation) and board members Brazil and Chile discussed the possibility of exchanging the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, it was decided in the end, as the CBF confirmed in February 2011, that the 2015 Copa América is to be held in Brazil. However, in March 2012 it was officially announced that it was Chile who would be hosting the 2015 Copa América, after CBF president Ricardo Teixeira resigned from his position and the CBF agreed to swap the tournament's hosting with Chile. The swap was made official in May 2012. The centennial edition of the tournament, which will occur in 2016, will be held in the United States.
|9||Argentina (1916, 1921, 1925, 1929, 1937, 1946, 1959, 1987, 2011)|
|7||Uruguay (1917, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1956, 1967, 1995)|
|7||Chile (1920, 1926, 1941, 1945, 1955, 1991, 2015)|
|6||Peru (1927, 1935, 1939, 1953, 1957, 2004)|
|4||Brazil (1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, next 2019)|
|3||Ecuador (1947, 1959, 1993, next 2023)|
|3||No fixed host [F] (1975, 1979, 1983)|
|2||Bolivia (1963, 1997)|
|0||United States (next 2016)|
Format and rules
The tournament was previously known as Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol (South American Championship of Football). South American Championship of Nations was the official English language name. The current name has been used since 1975. Between 1975 and 1983 it had no host nation, and was held in a home and away fashion. The current final tournament features 12 national teams competing over a month in the host nation. There are two stages: the group stage followed by the knockout stage. In the group stage, teams compete within three groups of four teams each. Three teams are seeded, including the hosts, with the other seeded teams selected using a formula based on the FIFA World Rankings. The other teams are assigned to different "pots", usually based also on the FIFA Rankings, and teams in each pot are drawn at random to the three groups.
Each group plays a round-robin tournament, in which each team is scheduled for three matches against other teams in the same group. The last round of matches of each group is not scheduled at the same time unlike many tournaments around the world. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage as well as the two best third-place teams. Points are used to rank the teams within a group. Beginning in 1995, three points have been awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss (before, winners received two points).
The ranking of each team in each group will be determined as follows:
- a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches;
- b) goal difference in all group matches;
- c) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows:
- d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
- e) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
- f) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
- g) drawing of lots by the CONMEBOL Organising Committee (i.e. at random).
The knockout stage is a single-elimination tournament in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with penalty shootouts used to decide the winner if a match is still tied after 90 minutes in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and after extra time in the final. It begins with the quarter-finals, then semi-finals, the third-place match (contested by the losing semi-finalists), and the final.
Owing to CONMEBOL's somewhat limited number of registered confederations, countries from other continents are usually invited to participate to make up the 12 teams necessary for the current tournament format. Since 1993, two teams from other confederations, usually from CONCACAF whose members are geographically and culturally close, have also been invited. In all, seven different nations have received invitations: Costa Rica (1997, 2001, 2004, 2011), Honduras (2001), Japan (1999, 2011), Jamaica (2015), Mexico (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015), and the United States (1993, 1995, 2007). The United States was invited to every tournament between 1997 and 2007 but frequently turned down the invitation due to scheduling conflicts with Major League Soccer. However, on October 30, 2006, the US Soccer Federation accepted the invitation to participate in the 2007 tournament, ending a 12-year absence. At the 2001 Copa América, Canada was an invitee, but withdrew just before the start of the tournament due to security concerns. At the 2011 Copa América, Japan withdrew, citing difficulties with European clubs in releasing Japanese players following the earthquake. Spain was invited to the 2011 edition, but according to the Royal Spanish Football Federation, they declined because they did not want to interrupt the Spanish players' holidays.
Invitees nations record
|Cuba or Panama||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||TBD||0|
|Haiti or Trinidad and Tobago||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||TBD||0|
Two trophies are awarded at the end of the competition: the Copa América is given to the winner, while the Copa Bolivia is awarded to the runner-up. The Copa América trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the Copa América tournament, was donated to CONMEBOL by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina in 1916. The prestigious laurel was obtained from a jewelry shop in Buenos Aires at the cost of 3,000 Swiss francs. The trophy is a silver ornament with wooden base which contains several plaques. The plaques are engraved with every winner of the competition, as well as the edition won.
South American Championship era
Copa América era
- a.e.t.: after extra time
- p: after penalty shoot-out
- No third place match was played; Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
- The tournament winner was decided by a final round-robin group contested by four teams (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay).
- The tournament winner was decided by a final round-robin group contested by four teams (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia).
- The tournament was originally canceled prior to its beginning, however CONMEBOL confirmed its maintenance. Invitee Canada withdrew from the tournament due to this decision. Argentina also withdrew, stating that Argentine players had received death threats from terrorist groups and they feared for their safety. Honduras and Costa Rica were invited to take their place.
Performance by country
Cumulative top four results for both South American Championships and Copa Américas.
- There have been only 2 editions where neither Brazil nor Uruguay has finished in the top four (1993, 2015).
- There have been only 3 editions where neither Argentina nor Brazil has finished in the top four (1939, 2001, 2011).
- There have been only 3 editions where neither Argentina nor Uruguay finish in the top four (1949, 1979, 1997).
- There has never been an edition in which none of the three countries Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil made it to the top four.
- All Copa América tournaments held in Brazil and Uruguay have been won by the host nation.
Records and statistics
- "Copa América: History". CONMEBOL. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
- "CONCACAF and CONMEBOL Announce Agreement to Bring Copa America 2016 to the United States". CONCACAF.com. May 1, 2014.
- "The oldest continental tournament in the world". CONMEBOL.com. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- "X Campeonato Sud Americano de Football". biblioteca.afa.org.ar. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
- "50 Reasons Why World Football Is the Best and Biggest Sport in the World". Bleacher Report. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- "2005/2006 season: final worldwide matchday to be 14 May 2006". FIFA.com. 19 December 2004. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- "Copa América: a new cycle begins and the revolving calendar remains". 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008.
- "Reunión de Presidentes y el C. Ejecutivo". CONMEBOL.com. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "Ecuador comienza estudios para modernizar estadios para Copa América 2023 [Ecuador begins studies to modernize stadia for the 2023 Copa América]". Ecuavisa. 14 June 2012.
- "Copa América Argentina 2011: Japón comunicó que no participará del torneo" [Copa América Argentine 2011: Japan announced that they will not participate in the tournament]. CONMEBOL. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- "Japón se Copa en América". 14 April 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- "Trofeo de la Copa América" on DePeru.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Copa América.|
- Copa América, CONMEBOL.com
- The Copa América Archive – Trivia
- RSSSF archive – includes extensive match reports.