Copa América: What You Need To Know - CONMEBOL

The Copa América is a football tournament in which national teams from South America compete. Let’s find out what Copa America is? Which countries are taking part?

What is the Copa América?

The Copa América is a football competition contested by national teams from South America. Since 1993, Mexico has been a consistent participant, and other national teams have been invited on occasion. Originally, the event was held every year, but it was later altered to every other year. The Football Championship of South America was the original name for Copa América. It was renamed Copa América in 1975. 

Copa America is the world’s oldest football event. It is also the third most popular global football competition in the world. CONMEBOL, the South American football regulatory body, organizes Copa America. FIFA recognizes it as one of six continental confederations. It is also the world’s oldest continental football federation. Its headquarters are in Paraguay’s Luque.

Copa America

Tournament History

From a historical standpoint, the competition is lacking in continuity, as seen by various inconsistencies and a few bigger gaps between tournaments. There were no competitions between 1929 and 1935 because of enmity between Argentina and Uruguay, the continent’s dominant football nations, which erupted after the World Cup final in 1930. Another interruption occurred between 1967 to 1975, mainly due to the emergency of the Copa Libertadores, which was inaugurated in 1960.

After an eight-year hiatus, the competition was renamed Campeonato Sudamericano de Fútbol to Copa America and a home-and-away format was implemented.

The event had nine teams classified into 3 groups between 1975 and 1987. In 1991, all 10 members of Conmebol were split into two groups. The competition was expanded to twelve teams in 1993, and other countries have been invited to fill the 12-team framework since then. Mexico has been a regular participant in Copa América since 1993, and the United States has joined Mexico, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, Japan, Mexico, and Qatar. So yet, no non-native country has won the tournament; Mexico came closest with two second-place finishes.

The competition was hosted outside of South America for the first time in 2016, with the United States as the host. At the same time, the Copa América was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Format And Rules

It was held in a home-and-away format between 1975 and 1983, with no definite host nation. For a month, 13 national teams will compete in the ongoing final tournament in the host country. The knockout stage follows the group stage. Teams compete in three groups of four teams during the group stage. Three teams, including the hosts, are seeded, with the remaining seeded teams chosen using a process based on FIFA World Rankings. The other teams are included in “pots” depending on their FIFA rankings, and teams from each pot are placed in one of three groups at random.

Each group competes in a round-robin tournament, with each team playing three games against teams from the same group. The last round of games for each group is not planned at the same time as in many other championships throughout the world. Each group’s top two teams, and the best third teams, progress to the knockout phase. Within a group, points are utilized to rank the teams. Since 1995, a victory earns three points, a tie earns one, and a defeat earns none.

Each team’s rating in each group is established as follows:

  • the most total points scored in all group matchups;
  • goal differential over all group matches;
  • the most goals scored in all group matchups.

If two or more teams are ranked similarly based on the three criteria listed above, the following is how their rankings are determined:

  • the most points obtained in group matches by the participating teams;
  • goal difference between the groups of teams;
  • higher amount of goals scored between the teams in all group matches;
  • The CONMEBOL Organizing Committee draws lots.

A knockout stage is a single-elimination event in which teams compete in one-off matches against each other. In the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and after extra time in the final, penalty shootouts were used to determine the victor if a match was still level after 90 minutes. Following the quarter-finals are the semi-finals, the third-place match, and ultimately the final.

Lịch sử Cup Copa America

Guest Countries

Due to CONMEBOL’s short number of qualified national soccer federations, nations from other continents are frequently asked to compete to fill the 12 sides required for the present tournament configuration. Two teams from different confederations have been invited since 1993, primarily from CONCACAF, whose members are culturally and geographically nearby.

In total, nine countries have been invited: Costa Rica, Honduras, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, Haiti, Panama, the United States, and Qatar. From 1997 to 2007, the United States was offered every championship but declined to owe to scheduling problems with Major League Soccer (MLS). The US Soccer Federation, on the other hand, accepted the invitation to engage in the 2007 tournament on October 30, 2006, ending a 12-year absence. Canada received invitations to the 2001 Copa América but withdrew just before the tournament began owing to security concerns.

Japan pulled out of Copa América in 2011, claiming difficulties in releasing Japanese players by European clubs in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Spain was welcomed to the 2011 edition but withdrew due to worries about disrupting the players’ vacations.  Because the Asian area of the World Cup qualifying in 2018 was taking place at the same time, Japan denied the invitation to the Copa América in 2015 because it would put a load on its international players, while China was obliged to quit. Due to the postponement of the rest of the AFC Second Round of FIFA World Cup qualification in 2022 until June 2021, Australia, as well as Qatar, confirmed their withdrawal from the Copa América on Feb 23, 2021.

Quick Facts

Copa América

  • Only in 1993 and 2015 did both Brazil and Uruguay fail to finish in the top four.
  • Brazil and Argentina only failed to place in the top four in 1939, 2001, and 2011.
  • Only in 1949, 1979, and 1997 did both Argentina and Uruguay fail to finish in the top four.
  • Since 1916, at least one of the top three teams—Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay—has finished in the top four.
  • All of the Copa América tournaments that Brazil and Uruguay have hosted have been won.
  • The present Copa América trophy is on display in the Conmebol Museum, and a special edition was created in 2016 to commemorate the Copa América Centenario. The existing Copa América cup was sold for 3K Swiss francs by Casa Escasany, a jewelry boutique in Buenos Aires, in 1916.

It is a 9 kg silver adornment that stands 77 cm tall and is supported by a three-level hardwood base with multiple plaques. Every competition winner, as well as the edition won, is etched on the plaques.

Since the 1997 edition, the “Copa Bolivia” (a tiny silver trophy) has been awarded to the competition’s runner-up in addition to the main prize.

  • The tournament’s 47th edition has been marred by scandals, controversies, and a coronavirus epidemic. It was previously planned for June 12 to July 12, 2020, in Colombia and Argentina. Due to the outbreak, the tournament was postponed until 2021. Because of the protests against President Iván Duque Márquez in Colombia, CONMEBOL removed Colombia as a co-host in May 2021. Argentina was later deleted as well owing to Covid-19-related problems. Brazil has been named the new host country.


Copa América was scheduled to take place once a year from 1916 to 1927, with one exception in 1918 due to a flu outbreak in Brazil. The South American Football Championship was temporarily halted when Uruguay was chosen to host the 1930 FIFA World Cup. After that, in 1935, the competition adopted the more common biennial format.

From 1987 to 2001, the event followed a two-year schedule before jumping from 2004 to 2007, then 2011 to 2015, before landing in 2016 to put it back in line with the UEFA Euros.

With 15 cups each, Argentina and Uruguay hold the most titles in the tournament’s history.

Only Ecuador and Venezuela have yet to triumph.

The United States is the event’s first non-CONMEBOL host country, having done so in 2016.

Mexico has the most runner-up finishes of any non-CONMEBOL team with two.

Copa America is the world’s oldest international football championship. The monthlong football festival pits the elite of South America’s national sides against one another, with guests like Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Leo Messi adding color to the proceedings. That’s why we would like to inform you more about this competition. Hope this article has given you a better understanding of Copa América.