Copa America History

The Copa America is the international football tournament for teams in the South American region of FIFA, known as CONMEBOL.

Founded in 1916, it is the oldest of the continental international competitions that take place worldwide. It is full of rich history, with some of the greatest players of all time stamping their authority on the competition.

Throughout its storied past, the Copa America history has been marked by thrilling matches, intense rivalries, and moments of brilliance that have captivated football fans worldwide.

Up until 1975, the tournament was known as the South American Football Championship, although the name Copa America is now associated with it and is known by fans worldwide.

With so many South American stars playing in Europe, interest in the competition is global, not just from South America, making this competition so unique.

People from all over the world tune in to see some of our generation’s greatest talents battle it out to become South America’s champions. None of the other continental competitions replicate that appeal.

Copa América


Copa América

Many teams have been successful during the Copa America era at winning the tournaments they have hosted, and we have seen some very memorable performances among those.

Home advantage can count for quite a bit in South America, but this tournament still requires a lot of winning, and the past winners who have done so on home soil still deserve a huge amount of credit for their achievements.

Here is a look at memorable tournaments where the home nation has successfully lifted the trophy.

Copa America: A Glorious Legacy

  • Home Triumphs: Host nations often excel, with Peru (1975), Paraguay (1979), and Uruguay (1983) showcasing the advantage of playing on home soil.
  • Brazil’s Host Dominance: Brazil’s hosting prowess was evident in 1989 when they clinched their fourth title. Argentina emerged as a formidable contender.
  • Colombia’s Historic Win: Overcoming security concerns, Colombia triumphed in 2001, securing its first title amidst fervent home support.
  • Chile’s Maiden Victory (2015): Chile’s inaugural win in 2015, marked by a tense final against Argentina, encapsulated the tournament’s unpredictability. Brazil’s surprising exit and Mexico’s disappointment added to the drama.
Table of content

1975 – A Win For Peru

The 1975 Copa America was this tournament’s first edition, having previously been called the South American Championship. So, Copa America’s winners’ history started in 1975. The competition looks much different now than when the rules were very different.

Ten teams took part and played each other around the countries between April and October that year. The defending champions going into this tournament were Uruguay, and they were given a bye past the group stages and joined in the semi-finals.

Brazil, Peru, and Colombia qualified from the group stages to join Uruguay in the semi-finals. These games were played over two legs, in September and October. Uruguay, the holders, lost at this stage.

They were beaten by Colombia, while there was nothing to split Brazil and Peru, so they drew lots to see who would qualify, with Peru winning that.

The final was played over three games. Colombia won the first game before Peru won the second to set up a third and final game playoff. That game was won 1-0 by Peru, to give them the title of Copa America Champions 1975.

The competition has come a long way since the name change in 1975, with both the teams taking part and the format facing drastic changes ahead. One thing remains, though, from 1975: this tournament is a great showcase for South American football.

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1979 – Paraguay The Victors

Again, in 1979, the group stages were played as home and away games, and ten teams took part in the tournament. Peru, winners of the 1975 edition, were given a bye into the semi-finals, and they awaited the group winners with interest.

In three extremely close groups, Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay were those to progress, and they joined Peru in the semi-finals.

Chile won in Peru before drawing their home game to qualify for the final first, and the team that joined them was Paraguay.

They won at home to Brazil before taking a draw from their away game and setting up a final, which would eventually be a very memorable occasion for them.

Again, we saw a best-of-three scenario for the final, and again, we needed to go to a third game to find a winner after Paraguay won the opening game and Chile won the second.

The third game was a very tense affair, and no goals were scored, which took the game to extra time. Again, we didn’t see a goal, and the game was settled on the aggregate score of the first two games. This gave Paraguay a 3-1 overall victory, allowing them to lift the title.

1983 – Uruguay Land The Spoils

History of Copa America 1983 was the final time we saw the competition move around different countries. After this event, we had one country host the event. After winning the 1979 event, Paraguay was given a bye into the semi-finals, with the group stages determining who they would face.

Uruguay, Brazil, and Peru made it through the group stages, with Uruguay, in particular, looking good and winning three of their four games. The semi-finals were all low-scoring, tight games, and Uruguay was the team to qualify in the first semi-final.

They won 1-0 away to Peru before drawing the second leg 1-1 to advance to the final. The second semi-final was just as close, and the teams drew the games 1-1 and 0-0. The Brazilians advanced to the final on the away goal rule, which was introduced in this tournament.

In the final, Uruguay won the opening game 2-0 against Brazil to give them the upper hand.

The third game was a taut affair, and we saw no goals scored, which took the game to extra time. Again, we didn’t see a goal, and the game was settled on the aggregate score of the first two games, which gave Paraguay a 3-1 overall victory, allowing them to lift the title.

The 1989 Copa America

Brazil hosted the 1989 Copa America, and they dominated the tournament. The hosts, Uruguay, which had won the previous two tournaments, and Argentina, which had many promising youngsters coming through, were the three teams with a chance of winning.

The stage was set for a great tournament, and the players on the field did not disappoint once they got going. Brazil’s opening game saw them have a fantastic start, beating Venezuela 3-1 to put two points on the board.

However, after that, they stuttered and drew their next two games against Peru and Colombia. A final game victory against Paraguay saw them qualify for the final group, although they only qualified as runners-up behind Paraguay.

In Group B, Argentina topped the group, with Uruguay in second, to give the fans the final four they wanted. Three fantastic teams went head-to-head, and Paraguay tried to spoil the party.


Onto the final, and this is where the hosts took off, dominating what looked on paper to be a very close group. A 2-0 victory over rivals Argentina got them off in the best possible style, and they followed that up with a thrilling 3-0 win over Paraguay.

Uruguay was doing well in the group and looking for its third successive Copa America title. It recorded the same margins of victory in its games against Paraguay and Argentina. That set up a winner-takes-all match between Brazil and Uruguay, which would decide where the trophy ended.

With Uruguay looking for their third title in a row and Brazil having home-field advantage, this was a genuine 50/50 game, with little to choose between the teams. A goalless first half led to even more tension in the game, and as the second half started, both teams looked on edge.

However, just into the second half, Brazil found a way to break the deadlock through Romario. They managed to hold onto their lead and win the game 1-0, which secured the top spot in the table to give them a fourth Copa America title.

The home nation brought to an end the dominance of Uruguay, although what was to follow was a successful period for Argentina, who had shown signs of promise in 1989 despite bringing a young squad to the tournament.

While Uruguay was the talk of the tournament going into it, many people were talking about Argentina coming out of it. Argentina’s young team impressed many watchers, and they would go on to have good success over the coming years.

They won the following two Copa America titles, 1991 in Chile and 1993 in Mexico, and performed exceptionally well on the world stage.


⚽ When was the Copa America founded?

The Copa America was founded in 1916, making it the oldest of the continental international competitions worldwide.

⚽ What makes the Copa America unique?

The Copa America boasts a rich history and has witnessed some of the greatest players showcasing their skills on the field.

⚽ How often does the Copa America take place?

The Copa America is typically held at regular intervals, with teams from CONMEBOL competing for the prestigious title.


⚽ What teams participate in the Copa America?

Teams from the South American region of FIFA, including powerhouses like Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, participate in the Copa America.

⚽ Where will the next Copa America be held?

Copa America 2024 will be held in the USA.

The 1995 Copa America

In 1995, the Copa America went to Uruguay, and in this golden era for South American football, fans worldwide were excited to see what would happen. They were dominating the world stage and were clear favourites to win this tournament, although things did not go according to plan for them.

A 4-1 win for the hosts on the opening day against Venezuela got the tournament off to a fantastic start and gave Uruguay some real belief and momentum. Two wins and a draw gave Uruguay the top spot in their group and a path to the quarter-finals.

In the group stages, Brazil won all three games to top their group, while Argentina won two but was shocked by the USA in their final game, losing 3-0. This was a huge shock and one that would have real consequences for Argentina.

Instead of winning the group, they came second, which paired them with Brazil in the quarter-finals. One of the big favorites to win this tournament was going out at an early stage.


A quarter-final clash between Brazil and Argentina grabbed the headlines. This was the game everyone wanted to see, but we didn’t expect to see it so early in the tournament.

After two goals in the opening ten minutes, the game was 1-1 and quickly turned into the classic everyone had hoped for. There was nothing to choose between the two giants of the game, and after finishing 2-2, the only way to split these two was a penalty shootout.

Two misses by Argentina gave Brazil the victory, and they progressed to the semi-finals. Argentina wondered what might have been had they managed to beat the USA in the group stages.

Uruguay had a much easier path to the final thanks to being in the top half of the draw. They began their tilt at the trophy with a quarter-final against Bolivia. They won that game 2-1 after quickly going 2-0 ahead and protecting their lead.

The home fans were starting to believe that winning the competition on home soil was a genuine possibility. Uruguay moved to the semi-finals, where they would face Colombia for a place in the final of the Copa America.

They controlled the game but could not break down the Colombians in the first half. However, that changed in the second half, and a goal just after half-time changed the game. Uruguay took the lead, forcing Columbia to open up and look for an equalizer.


That didn’t come, and eventually, Uruguay found another goal to seal the tie. With a 2-0 victory, Uruguay was in the final of the Copa America, where they would face the might of Brazil. In the final, Brazil was the better team in the first half and scored after half an hour to take a one-goal lead.

They deserved to lead, but in the second half, the game changed dramatically when Uruguay came out attacking and with a belief that they could pull themselves back into the game. They did that not too long into the second half, equalizing to send the 60,000 fans in attendance wild.

Neither team could find a winner so that a shootout would decide the final of the Copa America between Uruguay and Brazil. Nine penalties were taken during the shootout, and eight were successful, showing just what quality we had on a show despite the huge pressure on both teams.

The only player to miss was Tulio, and his miss gave Uruguay a 5-3 shootout victory to lift their 14th Copa America title. After Argentinian dominance in the past two tournaments, Uruguay put their name on the title once again, and best of all, they got to celebrate it with their home fans at their national stadium.


The big story of this tournament was the performance of the USA, which reached the semi-final stage before being knocked out by Brazil. They stood up to much better teams and gave a great account of themselves while remaining in the sporting spotlight in their country.

Just a year before, the USA successfully hosted the 1994 World Cup, and many people were beginning to love the game of football. Their success in the Copa America brought even more fans to the sport, and it was a big time for the sport in America, leading to more coverage and more people getting involved.

The 2001 Copa America

The 2001 Copa America was close to being canceled due to security concerns in Colombia. The authorities were worried that violence would occur at the games and wanted to prevent the tournament from proceeding.

At one point, Venezuela offered to host the tournament, but just days before the event, Colombia was given the green light to go through with plans to host.

This news caused something huge to happen when Argentina decided to pull out on the eve of the tournament due to safety concerns. They claimed their players had received death threats stating they would be in trouble if they played in Colombia, and with that in mind, the full team pulled out of the event.

This was a strange start for the event, as many teams arrived at the tournament underprepared and without the standard match practice ahead of a big competition.

Once the tournament got underway, we saw some very good games. The big surprise was that in the group stages, Colombia began with three victories out of three.

They also didn’t concede a goal, beating Venezuela 2-0, Ecuador 1-0, and Chile 2-0 to easily qualify for the knockout stages. In the quarter-finals, Colombia faced Peru, and they found a way past them with ease, beating them 3-0 thanks to three goals in less than 20 minutes to stun their opposition.

At that point, the hosts had a real belief and confidence in lifting the trophy, although they knew there was a chance that Brazil would be waiting for them in the semi-finals and would provide a stern test.

The shock of the tournament came in the quarter-finals, though, as Brazil was dumped out by Honduras 2-0 in a game that will remain part of Honduras’s footballing history for a very long time.

That gave Colombia a great chance to reach the final, with Honduras standing in their way. Colombia controlled the semi-final, with an early goal giving them a crucial advantage and making Honduras chase the game.

The visitors continued to take risks, which allowed Colombia to score a second goal in the second half. That is how the game ended. Colombia had reached the Copa America final for just the second time in its history.

Colombia played Mexico in the final and going into the game; they had yet to concede a goal in the tournament. Their defensive play had been nothing short of fantastic. The Mexicans had also impressed in the tournament. They had beaten Brazil in the group stages, as well as Chile and Uruguay in the knockout rounds.

The stage was set in Bogota for a hugely exciting game, and the home crowd was desperate to see their team lift the Copa America trophy for the first time. The game was tense, and neither team could break the deadlock in the first half.

However, in the second half, we finally saw a goal as Colombia took the lead. The home fans went wild as their dream of lifting the trophy became a reality. They had a one-goal lead and needed to hold on to it.

Mexico pushed to equalize, but they couldn’t, leaving Colombia to lift their first-ever Copa America title right where they would want to, in front of their fans in their national stadium.

This was a huge moment for the Colombian national team and also a big moment for them off the field. Many were concerned about taking the Copa America to Colombia, but the tournament was a big success, with no reported trouble taking place as was predicted.

The home team won the hearts of their nation with their first-ever success in the tournament, and the date, 29 July 2001, will forever be in the football history books.


Had the hosts not won the tournament, there is no doubt that Honduras’s performance in the 2001 tournament would have been the big talking point. Neither betting sites nor sports specialists could predict that they would finish third after winning a penalty shootout against Uruguay in the third/fourth-place playoff game. 

Under normal circumstances, this accomplishment would have been a huge achievement for Honduras, and their fans will remember their wins against Uruguay twice and Brazil once for a very long time.

However, what makes this effort extra special for them is the circumstances in which it was achieved and how they battled despite everything being against them. Argentina pulled out of the 2001 event at the last minute due to security concerns, and Honduras was the team to replace them.

They didn’t have any pre-tournament buildup going into the event and only flew into Colombia on the day of their first game, just hours before kick-off. When you put all this together, it was a remarkable effort by the Honduras team, and one of their fans should be extremely proud of it.


Elsewhere, Brazil, a team beaten by Honduras, would have to go down as the major disappointment of this tournament. With the withdrawal of Argentina, they were the biggest and most high-profile country in the 2001 tournament but failed to get past Honduras in the quarter-final stages.

With such a talented squad, much was expected from Brazil, and their fans were left bitterly disappointed in 2001.

The Copa America 2015

Chile hosted the Copa America 2015, and it was a memorable occasion for the hosts. They went on to win a tense final and lift the trophy in front of their home fans. It was their first victory in the tournament and a moment that those players and fans will never forget.

It wasn’t easy for them, though, and the fans watching on suffered, too, as the game went to extra time and a penalty shootout.

The big names on their team sheet made Argentina the favorites for the game despite it taking place in Chile. Argentina had big expectations, but quietly, Chile fancied they could upset the odds, especially after they had beaten two strong teams, Peru and Uruguay, to get to the final.

They did manage to upset the odds and lift the title, thanks to some great penalty-taking. They eventually won the shootout 4-1, with all four Chilean players scoring from the spot.

Lionel Messi scored for Argentina, but he was their only scorer, and it was a very disappointing ending for them after so much was promised before and during the tournament.


They went into the tournament with a team full of worldwide star names, including Barcelona star Lionel Messi, and much was expected from them. However, it wasn’t to be, and they would have to wait to add another title to the 14 they already had.

One of the big stories from the 2015 event was Brazil’s failure to make it to the semi-finals after a loss against Paraguay in the quarter-finals. Despite not having a perfect record, Brazil qualified for the knockout stages.

They lost 1-0 to Colombia in the group stages, which shocked some, but it was a sign of things to come for the Brazilians, who never got going throughout the tournament.

They faced Paraguay in the quarter-finals and took an early lead. However, a penalty gave Paraguay a way back into the game, which they took, and that was how things ended, which led to a penalty shootout between the teams.

Paraguay was clinical, scoring four of their five penalties, while Brazil missed two, resulting in an early exit from the tournament.

Another disappointment was Mexico, which went into the tournament after a good performance at the 2014 World Cup and reached the last 16 stage. They were drawn into a group with the hosts Chile, but with Bolivia and Ecuador rounding off the group, qualification for the knockout stages seemed well within reach.

However, the Mexicans failed to win a game at the tournament, with draws against Bolivia and Chile starting the tournament before a loss to Ecuador sealed their fate.

Despite those two disappointments, Chile deservedly won the 2015 Copa America on home soil, registering its maiden success in the tournament.

Aleksandras Rusinovas

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Aleksas was a professional poker player who played in many European Poker Tour tournaments throughout his 15-year career. He has achieved great success in online poker, as well as reaching the final table and cashing 20 times at the prestigious World Series Of Poker event. Aleksas has always been interested in sports betting. He has a strong i ..
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