Have you been keeping up with the Copa America Centenario? This internationally anticipated tournament is one of the most well-known events of its kind, and this year’s iteration—which marks Copa America’s 100th anniversary—is especially meaningful to fans and players alike.
In today’s blog, we will be looking at the story behind this world-famous tournament.
It’s a CONMEBOL contest…
Copa America is hosted by CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation. If you’re a fan or follower of international soccer, you know that it’s one of six FIFA confederations—the oldest one, at that! However, while CONMEBOL is the oldest of the confederations, it’s the smallest as well, with less members than any of the others. This is why teams from other confederations are regularly invited to play in the Copa America.
…and the oldest of its kind
Just as CONMEBOL is the oldest confederation, Copa America is the oldest contest of its kind—in fact, the two were created simultaneously in 1916! The first tournament was called the Campeonato Sudamericano de Football, or South American Football Championship, and marked the beginning of the Copa America tradition in South America and, later on, beyond. Officials noted the popularity of this first tournament and established CONMEBOL in the midst of it, on July 9th, 2016, Argentinian Independence Day.
Teams from other continents participate
As we mentioned earlier, non-CONMEBOL members are regularly invited to play in order to even out the tournament at 12 members. Participants from other confederations have included Mexico, the United States, Japan, Jamaica and more.
Copa America is celebrating 100 years in a big way
You may be wondering why the tournament is celebrating its 100th anniversary but its 45th edition. Disagreements and disorganization among federations prevented the tournament from taking place regularly, and it was only relatively recently that Copa America adopted its current frequency of every four years. While there was just a tournament in 2015, officials decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the contest by holding a special edition this year.
How is CONMEBOL celebrating? The confederation’s decision to move the host country to the United States is one big way—as previously, all the editions were held in South America. In addition to this big change (which sees games being played all across the United States, from Florida to California), this year’s Copa America winner will also receive an anniversary-edition trophy in matte gold plating. The trophy will include several changes—including special commemorative details—and, perhaps most importantly to the winning team, it will be kept by whoever claims it.
We hope that you’ve been enjoying this year’s tournament as much as we have! No matter where you are or who you root for, this is certainly an exciting summer for soccer fans.