The Copa América (Spanish and Portuguese for "America Cup") is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation. It is the oldest surviving international tournament in the world starting in 1916.
The participating nations are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Two invited teams from other confederations complete the twelve team tournament: Mexico has been a regular since they were invited for the first time in 1993. There is no qualification stage: all ten CONMEBOL teams compete by right, and others by invitation. The highest finishing member of CONMEBOL has the right to participate in the next edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but is not obliged to do so.
The Copa América is the oldest surviving international football competition in the world. It was held for the first time between July 2 and July 17, 1916 and won by Uruguay, as part of the commemorations of Argentina's independence centenary. CONMEBOL was founded during this event, on July 9 (Argentina's independence day).
It was normally held every two years (though the intervals sometimes changed) until 2007, when CONMEBOL decided that the tournament would henceforth be held every four years, although provision was made for extraordinary stagings of the tournament if the ten national football federations wish it. The tournament was previously known as Campeonato Sudamericano de Selecciones (South American Championship of National Teams). South American Championship of Nations was the official English language name.
In 1984, CONMEBOL adopted the policy of rotating the right to host the Copa América amongst the ten member confederations.
The first rotation has now been completed following the Copa América 2007 which took place in Venezuela. A second rotation has been agreed to begin in 2011, with host countries rotating in alphabetical order, starting with Argentina. Since 1993, two teams from other confederations, usually from CONCACAF whose members are geographically and culturally close, are also invited.
Since the 1910s, the champions of the top flight leagues from Argentina and Uruguay would contest the Copa Río de La Plata; the success of which ignited the idea to organize a continental competition in the 1930s. The first edition of a continental club competition, the South American Club Championship, was held in 1948, competed by the champions of the first division of the previous year from all the CONMEBOL member countries.
It was held in Santiago, Chile and won by Brazilian champions Vasco da Gama. This tournament is considered by CONMEBOL as the forerunner of the Copa Libertadores though it was not held again in the following year.Finally, in 1958, the foundation of a second edition continental club competition was laid down. The competition was named Copa Libertadores, in order to give tribute to the liberators in South American history, and was first contested in 1960.
The first session of the tournament was held in 1960 with seven teams participating. Uruguayan champions Peñarol defeated Paraguayan team Olimpia in the final and were crowned the first champions of the competition. San Lorenzo of Argentina are the current winners, having beaten Nacional of Paraguay in the 2014 Final.