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CONMEBOL Copa America is the oldest active international football tournament in the world. First played in 1916, the competition has seen several changes over the years, especially during the 1990s when teams from North America and Asia were invited to participate.

Since its inception, a total of 47 tournaments have been played. Uruguay are the most successful team in Copa America with 15 titles.

Between 1916 and 1967, the competition was played under the name of the South American Championship. The name changed to Copa America in 1975.

Since 1975, Brazil have dominated Copa America, winning the competition six times. Uruguay have won it four times while both Argentina and Chile have triumphed twice each.

Brazil holds the record for the most number of goals scored in the final. They won 7-0 against Paraguay in 1949.

The early years of the oldest international tournament were extremely disorganised. There were no fixed venues and the schedule ran throughout the year. In 1986 though, it was decided that one country would host the competition and between 1987 to 2001, the event was hosted every two years rather than the traditional four-year gap.

Between 2001 and 2007, it was played every three years before the four-year gap was brought into effect from 2007 onwards.

South American Championship winners list

Year Winners Runners-up
1916 Uruguay Argentina
1917 Uruguay Argentina
1919 Brazil Uruguay
1920 Uruguay Argentina
1921 Argentina Brazil
1922 Brazil Paraguay
1923 Uruguay Argentina
1924 Uruguay Argentina
1925 Argentina Brazil
1926 Uruguay Argentina
1927 Argentina Uruguay
1929 Argentina Paraguay
1935 Uruguay Argentina
1937 Argentina Brazil
1939 Peru Uruguay
1941 Argentina Uruguay
1942 Uruguay Argentina
1945 Argentina Brazil
1946 Argentina Brazil
1947 Argentina Paraguay
1949 Brazil Paraguay
1953 Paraguay Brazil
1955 Argentina Chile
1956 Uruguay Chile
1957 Argentina Brazil
1959 Argentina Brazil
1959 Uruguay Argentina
1963 Bolivia Paraguay
1967 Uruguay Argentina

The very first edition of the South American Championship featured a mere four teams and it continued to do so until 1920. By the time it was rebranded to Copa America, it had 10 participating nations.

CONMEBOL, the governing body of football in South America, still believed that the registered teams were limited and to increase the count to 12, North American countries like the United States of America, Mexico and Asian countries like Japan were invited. From 1993 onwards the tournament featured 12 teams - barring the 2016 edition where 16 teams took part. 

The 2021 Copa America will feature 10 teams as the likes of Australia and Qatar withdrew their participation due to the postponement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Copa America winners list

Year Winner Runners-up
1975 Peru Colombia
1979 Paraguay Chile
1983 Uruguay Brazil
1987 Uruguay Chile
1989 Brazil Uruguay
1991 Argentina Brazil
1993 Argentina Mexico
1995 Uruguay Brazil
1997 Brazil Bolivia
1999 Brazil Uruguay
2001 Colombia Mexico
2004 Brazil Argentina
2007 Brazil Argentina
2011 Uruguay Paraguay
2015 Chile Argentina
2016 Chile Argentina
2019 Brazil Peru

Has Lionel Messi ever won Copa America with Argentina?

Argentina’s last triumph in Copa America came in 1993. Since then, the team has played as many as four finals, but have never won the continental title. As for Lionel Messi, he has played three Copa America finals but has never won the title.

Featured photo: AFP / Carl De Souza

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