A trophy to unite the Americas
If you are one of the millions of soccer fans in the Americas, you better have your jersey, your scarf and your hat ready because the American continents will be celebrating the anniversary of the oldest continental soccer tournament in the world.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) decided to celebrate its century of history with the special edition of its famous Copa América, the Copa América Centenario. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that both confederations —CONMEBOL and The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) — will jointly host a tournament. It’s also the first time that Copa América will be celebrated outside of South America.
The U.S. was chosen to host the championship in 10 cities across the country — Chicago, East Rutherford, Foxborough, Glendale, Houston, Orlando, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Santa Clara and Seattle.
The history of the Copa América begins in 1916, when the Argentinian Soccer Association invited Chile, Uruguay and Brasil to participate in what they called the “Campeonato Sudamericano de Selecciones.” The tournament was created to conmemorate the centennial anniversary of Argentina’s independence. Uruguay was the first winner and the Uruguayan player José Piendibene was the first player to score a goal at Copa América.
CONMEBOL was created after this first tournament, which has evolved through its 100 years of history. In 1921 Paraguay debuted in the tournament. In 1926 it was Bolivia and then Peru did the same one year later, in 1927. The last three nations to be part of the Copa América were Ecuador (1938), Colombia (1945) and Venezuela (1967). It wasn’t until 1975 that CONMEBOL changed the name of the tournament to Copa América.
The first time an outside team was invited was 1993. Since then, Mexico has been in all the editions of the Copa. They have never won the championship but they have made it to the final twice.
After the 2015 edition, which saw the first victory of one of the founding members of the tournament, Chile, the new trophy will be lifted by a winning team in 2016. The special Centenario trophy will be two feet tall and weigh almost 16 pounds. The silver cup which has been bathed in 24-karat gold is a one time prize for the winner of 2016’s tournament. You don’t turn 100 every day.