The Copa America tournament is the oldest major international football competition to be played and features countries associated with CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation.
The tournament was first known as South American Championship of Nations, until 1975, when it was changed to the current name of Copa America. The total number of participating countries in the tournament are 12, with 10 countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, associated with CONMEBOL and two other countries who participate as invitees.
The tournament was first played during July 2 to July 17 1916 as a part of celebrations of Argentina's independence centenary. The ten countries of South America then formed the CONMEBOL confederation on Argentina's independence day, July 9.
Since then, the tournament has been held once every two years, unlike other international tournaments held once every four years. However starting 2007, CONMEBOL has decided to hold the tournament on a four year basis, though there is a provision to conducted it beforehand if all the ten member football federations accept it.
Initially, the tournament was held in league format, with the team sitting at the top of the group at the end of one rotation of matches being awarded the tournament. In cases where two teams were tied with same number of points, a play-off final match had to be played, with the winner of the match being crowned the champion.
The format was given a revamp during the 1975 edition, in which nine nations took part. The teams were divided into three groups of three nations, with each team playing twice against each other. No fixed host was declared. Instead the tournament was played throughout the year in a home and away format. The winner of each group after the end of the group stage advanced into the semi-finals, with defending champions, Uruguay being exempted from the group stage and featuring directly in the semi-finals.
The semi-finals of the tournament were also two-legged affairs, but one of the semi-finals, between Brazil and Peru, was tied, with both teams winning one game each and scoring the same number of goals. Columbia had already advanced into the finals of the tournament by beating Uruguay on goal difference.
The other finalist was decided by lot and Peru was the lucky nation to get picked. And the country rode its luck, defeating Columbia in the best-of-three finals by a margin of 2-1. The next two editions of the tournament followed the same format, with no fixed host venue. In all the three editions, there was no prize awarded to the third and fourth places, with both the losing semi-finalists being declared joint third place winners.
In 1984, CONMEBOL decided that each member nation should have a right to host the Copa America tournament, and the association started a rotation policy, with each country being awarded the right to host the tournament. Under the new rules, the 1987 edition saw the scrapping of two-legged matches and Argentina was declared as the tournament host.
The rest of the format of the tournament was kept the same, with winners of each group and the defending champion taking part in the semi-finals. A match between the losing semi-finalists was played one day before the final to decide the third and fourth positions. Uruguay successfully managed to defend its title and win its 13th Copa America tournament since its inception.
In 1993, CONMEBOL decided to expand the number of teams taking part in the tournament to 12 teams by inviting two teams from other confederations. While a majority of invitees have been from the CONCACAF confederation, Japan has featured in the tournament during the 1999 edition.
More often than not, countries from other confederation have been invited depending on their performances during the World Cup or during the qualification stages of the competition. Like with the other members of the CONMEBOL, there is no qualification process to decide who the two invitee nations should be.
Mexico has featured in every tournament since the process of inviting nations outside the CONMEBOL started. USA too has been invited for every tournament, but has featured only thrice, during 1993, 1995 and the 2007 edition. Other nations include Costa Rica (1997, 2001, 2004), Japan (1999) and Honduras (2001). Initially Canada was extended the invitation for the 2001 edition, but it withdrew from the tournament due to security reasons. Mexico and USA are the two invitees taking part in the 2007 edition of the tournament.
Copa America 2007
The latest edition of the Copa America tournament will be played in Venezuela starting June 26 to July 15. Mexico and USA have been invited to take part in the tournament. USA will be featuring in its first Copa America tournament in 13 years, having last accepted the invitation to play in the tournament in 1995.
The first match of the tournament will be played between Uruguay and Peru on June 26 at the Estadio Polideportivo de Pueblo Nuevo in San Cristobal. Hosts Venezuela will play the next match against Bolivia.
Apart from the expected names such as defending champions Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and USA are considered to be favorites to lift the title. The final match will be played at the Estadio José Pachencho Romero in Maracaibo on July 15. Free Football TV has long concentrated on English domestic football. However, as our members base grows so do their needs. We are happy to announce that we have availability for live Copa America football online and will be providing full coverage.
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