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
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
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