Every four years In Europe, the men’s European Football Championships is the main football attraction each summer. But in South America, its equivalent, the Copa America, is just as keenly contested and supported.

However, there’s a lot you may not know about this epic football competition and its Latin American flavour. So, in this post, we are looking to put that right.

We will be looking at the history of the Copa America tournament. As well examining some of its most memorable teams and players. We’ll also consider how the Copa America will change as it continues its transition to a four-yearly tournament. Now taking place two years after the previous World Cup and two before the next.

Then finally, we’ll give you some fantastic betting options on the tournament, courtesy of bet365 Sport.

Let’s begin with a look at the rich, varied but undeniably important history of the Copa America.

Copa America – Foundation and History

The Copa America pre-dates both the UEFA European Championships and the FIFA World Cup. The very first South American international tournament took place in 1916.

It remains the oldest international tournament still in existence today.

However, since its foundation, the tournament has suffered from a lack or organisation and interest at various points. This led to it being held intermittently for many years, in fact right up until 1987.

For example, from 1919 to 1927, it weas held every year, but from 1929 to 1939, it was only held in 1935 and 1937 in between those two tournaments. It was held twice in both 1956 and 1959 but then held just twice from the second 1959 tournament right the way through to 1975.

From 1975, it was organised as a four-yearly tournament for the 10 CONMEBOL teams, which remained the case until 1993, when it expanded to 12 teams inviting its first two non-CONMEBOL entrants (Mexico and the USA).

That format continued to 2016,

In 2016, a special Centennial edition of the tournament was held in Brazil for the 10 CONMEBOL teams plus six additional teams. 12 teams competed in 2019, but then this dropped down to 10 in 2021 due to the pandemic.

By then FIFA had worked with CONMEBOL to get the tournament moved to the same summertime period as the European Championships.  

The 2024 tournament was then increased back to 16 teams, and it is likely these changes to the four-yearly tournament and 16-teams will continue for the foreseeable future.

Who has Competed in the Copa America?

Traditionally, it has been just some or all the ten member nations of CONMEBOL that have participated in the Copa America. Those teams are: –

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

However, from 1993, when the tournament expanded to 12 teams, it has been necessary to extend an invitation to other teams, notably from the North and Central American region (CONCACAF). Two teams were invited to several tournaments from 1993.

Then with the change of the tournament in 2024 to 16 teams, this necessitated inviting four teams. This number may well be continued in future tournaments.

For 2024, CONCACAF set up a qualifying campaign to decide which of its six member nations would earn one of the additional 6 places for the tournament. Again, this will likely continue for the 2028 tournament. (Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, USA, Canada & Costa Rica qualified).

The teams from outside the ten CONMEBOL participants that have played at least once in the Copa America include (number in brackets is number of Copa America appearances):

  • Canada (1)
  • Costa Rica (6)
  • Haiti (1)
  • Honduras (1)
  • Jamaica (3)
  • Mexico (11)
  • Panama (2)
  • United States (5)
  • Japan (2)
  • Qatar (1)

China was invited in 2015 and Australia in 2021 but after initially accepting, did not play due to other commitments. Spain was invited to the 2011 tournament but decided not to participate.

Copa America – Key Data Table

Tourn NoYear HeldHostsNo of TeamsWinnerRunners Up3rd Place4th Place

*The 1975, 1979 and 1983 tournaments were played over two legs, home and away, rather than having a host nation.

Copa America Winners List

Outlined below is the list of Copa America winners in order of the number of wins. When this is level between two teams, the number of times they have been runners up decides their ranking.

RankTeam NameWinnersRunner-Up

The following teams have competed in the Copa America tournament over the years but have not finished as a winner or runner up in any event.

Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Japan and Qatar.

Superstars of the Copa America

Outlined below for each country are some of the most famous soccer superstars that have played in the Copa America over the years. Players still playing today are shown in italics.

Brazil – Pele, Zico, Socrates, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Romario, Neymar, Cafu, Eder, Careca, Garrincha, Tostao, Carlos Alberto, Thiago Silva, Junior, Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, Roberto Carlos, Dunga, Claudo Taffarel, Nelinho. Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo

Argentina – Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Mario Kempes, Osvaldo Ardiles, Daniel Passarella, Juan Roman Riquelme, Ramon Diaz, Pablo Aimar, Claudio Canniggia, Ubaldo Fillol, Jorge Luis Burruchaga, Daniel Bertoni, Carlos Tevez, Lisandro Martinez, Pablo Dybala, Emi Martinez, Martin Palermo.

Colombia – Rene Higuita, Andreas Escobar, Carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla, Fredy Rincon, James Rodriguez, Luis Diaz, Juan Cuadrado, Ivan Cordoba, Radamel Falcao

Bolivia – Marco Etcheverry, Erwin Sanchez, Marco Sandy, Marcelo Martins Moreno, Carlos Aragones, Jaime Moreno

Ecuador – Ivan Hurtado, Agustin Delgado, Alex Aguinaga, Antonio Valencia, Cristian Ramirez, Kendry Paez, Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Piero Hincapie, Pervis Estupinan,

Venezuela – Juan Arango, Salomon Rondon, Josef Martinez, Yangel Herrera, Tomas Rincon, Fernando Amorebieta,

Chile – Marcelo Salas, Alexis Sanchez, Ivan Zamorano, Patricio Yanez, Carlos Caszely, Claudio Bravo, Elias Figueroa, Charles Aranguiz, Matias Fernandez, Arturo Vidal,

Paraguay – Julio Cesar Romero, Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Gamarra, Nelson Valdez, Roberto Acuna, Miguel Almiron, Celso Ayala, Francisco Arce, Justo Villar, Oscar Cardozo

Peru – Hector Chumpitaz, Teofilio Cubillas, Nolberto Solano, Paolo Guerrero, Luis Advincula, Renato Tapia, Claudio Pizzaro, Jefferson Farfan, Roberto Palacios, Jose del Solar, Juan Carlos Oblitas, Jaime Duarte, Ramon Quiroga

UruguayDiego Godin, Martin Cacares, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera, Maxi Pereira, Diego Forlan, Enzo Francescoli, Diego Lugano, Jose Maria Gimenez, Fabian Carini, Cristian Rodriguez, Alvaro Recoba, Carlos Aguilera, Matias Vecino, Paolo Montero, Federico Valverde, Ruben Sosa, Daniel Fonseca, Gus Poyet, Darwin Nunez

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If you are interested in betting on the exciting Copa America, then bet365 Sport offers a great choice of markets.

Betting on who will win the next tournament is nearly always available on the site. However, the action ramps up when you hit a year when the Copa America is set to take place.

Then you can find a larger range of bets including betting on which teams will win each of the groups contested. Plus, you can bet on teams to qualify, as well as a wealth of other pre-match bets.

And don’t forget the In-Play betting options, with an astounding range of bets available for every game that takes place in the Copa America. From the opening game through to the final!

Remember, with the changes made to the international calendar, the new-look Copa America will take place every four years. This should give the competition more uniformity and help it fit in with the FIFA International Calendar.

As the Copa America is now played at the same time as the European Football Championships, it promises to be a summer of sensational soccer for sports fans!