With 2018 here at last, we are just one year away from the Americas’ claim to football fame: Copa America.
This event once began as a South American tournament. It has since expanded to include North American and Asian countries. While the United States played host in the 2016 games, but the match will now return to its Latin American roots. Brazil will be hosting the 2019 tournament. The nation boasts eight Copa America wins and will now have the opportunity to play on their home turf.
According to ESPN, the 2019 tournament will have 16 teams, breaking from the standard 12. Interested in this international soccer event? This is what you should know.
How did Copa America start?
This competition was initially known as Campeonato Sudamericano de Fútbol, or South American Football Championship, since its start in 1916. In 1975, the competition earned the name Copa America and has remained the oldest international football tournament. Most of the teams in the tournament are part of CONMEBOL, or Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol (South American Football Confederation). CONMEBOL originally held 10 member organizations but the tournament has since expanded to invite more teams.
Which teams excel?
Chile has won the past two Copa America competitions, beating Argentina both times. Argentina frequently plays well and makes it to the finals, but has not won a championship since the 90s. Uruguay has won more championships than any other team in history, with 15 trophies. Brazil has also performed well in the past two decades, bosting four championship titles.
What was so special about the 2016 Copa America?
In 2016, the tournament hosted a special centennial edition, known as the Copa America Centenario. The final for this game had a completely sold out crowd, with over 81,000 fans in the stands. People flocked to this U.S.-hosted game to watch Argentina, ranked first by FIFA, and Chile, ranked fifth, go head to head for this much-coveted title. And of course, Barcelona and Argentina fans alike were thrilled to see Lionel Messi take the field as World Player of the Year.
Internationally, 25 million kids play football every year, and this tournament is just one of the events that ignite a passion for the sport. As 2019 approaches, soccer fans will be eager to gather in support of their favorite players and teams.