Copa América 2016: Here’s What You Need to Know

The Copa América Centenario (English: Centennial Copa America) is a scheduled international men's association football (soccer) tournament due to be held in the United States in 2016. The competition is a celebration of the centenary of CONMEBOL and the Copa América, and is to be the first Copa América hosted outside of South America.[3]

The tournament will be the 45th edition of Copa América since its inception in 1916. It will be held as part of an agreement between CONMEBOL (the South American football confederation) and CONCACAF (the football confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean) as a special edition between the usual four-year cycle, and will feature an expanded field of 16 teams (an increase from the usual 12), with all ten teams from CONMEBOL and six teams from CONCACAF. 

The first recorded football match in South America was played in Argentina in 1867 by British railway workers. The first football team in South America, Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata was created in Argentina in 1887, and the Argentine Football Association was founded in 1893. By the early 20th century, football was growing in popularity, and the first international competition held between national teams of the continent occurred in 1910 when Argentina organized an event to commemorate the centenary of the May Revolution. Chile and Uruguay participated, but this event is not considered official by CONMEBOL. Similarly, for the centennial celebration of its independence, Argentina held a tournament between July 2 and July 17 of 1916 with Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil being the first participants of the tournament.
This so-called Campeonato Sudamericano de Football would be the first edition of what is currently known as Copa América; Uruguay would triumph in this first edition after tying 0–0 with hosts Argentina in the deciding, last match held in Estadio Racing Club in Avellaneda.

Seeing the success of the tournament, a boardmember of the Uruguayan Football Association, Héctor Rivadavia, proposed the establishment of a confederation of the associations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, and on July 9, independence day in Argentina, CONMEBOL was founded. The following year, the competition was played again, this time in Uruguay. Uruguay would win the title again to win their bicampeonato after defeating Argentina 1–0 in the last match of the tournament.

The success of the tournament on Charrúan soil would help consolidate the tournament. After a flu outbreak in Rio de Janeiro canceled the tournament in 1918, Brazil hosted the tournament in 1919 and was crowned champion for the first time after defeating the defending champions 1–0 in a playoff match to decide the title, while the Chilean city of Viña del Mar would host the 1920 event which was won by Uruguay.

For the 1921 event, Paraguay participated for the first time after its football association affiliated to CONMEBOL earlier that same year. Argentina won the competition for the first time thanks to the goals of Julio Libonatti. In subsequent years, Uruguay would dominate the tournament, which at that time was the largest football tournament in the world. 
Argentina, however, would not be far behind and disputed the supremacy with the Charruas. After losing the 1928 final at the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, Argentina would gain revenge in the 1929 South American Championship by defeating the Uruguayans in the last, decisive match. During this period, both Bolivia and Peru debuted in the tournament in 1926 and 1927, respectively.
 
What is the Copa America?
The Copa America is a international soccer tournament that features 16 soccer nations competing for the trophy starting on June 3 and going on till June 26. It’s the first time the USA has featured in the competition after it was expanded by FIFA. That means we get more soccer!
Who are the favorites? 
The teams that have always had pedigree in the competition over the years have been Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. In fact, the latter has won the Copa America a record 15 times, with Argentina winning 14 titles. Shockingly, despite amassing more World Cup wins than their rivals, Brazil has only mustered 8 wins since the tournament began all the way back in 1916.
The Copa América Centenario, kicks off Friday night when the United States faces Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif. The 16-team event is being played outside South America for the first time as a celebration of its 100th anniversary, and while a handful of top players have been left out or ruled out by injury, there is plenty left in the cupboard, including four of the eight quarterfinalists from the last World Cup. Here’s what you need to know before the tournament begins.

Who’s in the field?
The Copa América is South America’s continental championship, and as it celebrates its centenary, it is the oldest international soccer tournament in the world. As the continental championship, it always includes the 10 members of the South American confederation, Conmebol: traditional soccer powers like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile and the (relatively) less-accomplished sides Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela. But since 1993, the event has also invited guest teams from outside South America: Mexico (nine appearances) has finished second twice, and the United States (three appearances) was fourth in 1995.
This year’s event has 16 teams. In addition to the 10 countries from South America, the guests are the United States and Mexico, as well as four nations that earned their spots through regional qualifying: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama and Haiti.

How do I watch?
Fox Sports will televise every game live in the United States on its family of networks (Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and FX). Prefer your broadcasts in Spanish? Univision and UniMas will have every game as well. But remember that meaty pregame shows have become the norm, so if you just want straight soccer, make sure you pay attention to the kickoff time, not just the broadcast time.

How does it work?
The tournament is made up of four groups of four teams. Everyone plays three group-stage games, and the top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals, where the Copa becomes a straight knockout tournament. Friday’s kickoff match — the United States vs. Colombia — is the only game on the first day. Brazil opens Saturday (against Ecuador), and then Mexico-Uruguay (Sunday) and Argentina-Chile (Monday) should spice things up nicely. The final is June 26 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

How is the Centenario different from Copa America?

The Copa America is South America's premier international tournament. The longest running international soccer tournament in the world, it's the continent's equivalent of the UEFA European Championship or the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The tournament has had many iterations in its 100-year history, with the current format coming into play in 2007. That was the year CONMEBOL shifted to holding the tournament once every four years, with all 10 members of the South American confederation joined by two other countries for a 12-team tournament.
The 12 teams are usually divided into three groups of four, with 8 advancing to the knockout round. Chile hosted the tournament in June 2015, with the hosts winning the title – their first – by beating Argentina in penalties in the final.
Uruguay have won the most Copa America titles, taking home the trophy 15 times. Argentina are second with 14 titles and Brazil round out the top three with eight championships. Ecuador and Venezuela are the only two CONMEBOL countries that have never won the tournament.
The 2016 Centenario, of course, will be a little different. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the tournament, CONMEBOL partnered with US Soccer and CONCACAF to stage a juiced-up version of the event in the States. The tournament, which has never before been hosted outside of South America, should captivate the attention of the entire Western Hemisphere, with big teams and big stars set to face off for the first trophy of its kind.

Which countries are participating?

Sixteen teams will compete in the Copa America Centenario, with all 10 CONMEBOL federations joined by six CONCACAF countries.
The US and Mexico automatically qualified for the tournament, and Jamaica and Costa Rica made the field as winners of the 2014 Caribbean Cup and 2014 Copa Centroamericana, respectively.
By virtue of their finishes at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, four teams – Cuba, Haiti, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago – qualified for the Copa America Centenario qualifying playoffs. The teams were seeded based on their Gold Cup results, with top-seeded Panama beating fourth-seeded Cuba, while third-seeded Haiti knocked off second-seeded Trinidad and Tobago in one-off matches held Jan. 8.

When and where will the tournament be played?

The Copa America Centenario will kick off on June 3 and will conclude with the final on June 26. A total of 10 stadiums were selected from of a group of 24 bidders to host tournament matches, with the minimum stadium capacity for the tournament set at 60,219.
Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California will host the tournament opener on Friday, June 3, when the USA will take on Colombia. The final will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The complete group-stage matchups were determined by the Copa America Centenario draw, held in New York City on February 21. In addition to the opener, the USMNT will play group stage games at Soldier Field vs. Costa Rica (June 7) and Lincoln Financial Field vs. Paraguay (June 11); Brazil is at the Rose Bowl (June 4), Citrus Bowl (June 8), and Gillette Stadium (June 12); Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium (June 5), the Rose Bowl (June 9), and NRG Stadium (June 13); and Argentina at Levi's Stadium (June 6), Soldier Field (June 10), and CenturyLink Field (June 14)
List of host stadiums:
  • CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Wash.
  • Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
  • Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Mass
  • Levi's Stadium – Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pa.
  • MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, N.J.
  • NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
  • Rose Bowl – Pasadena, Calif.
  • Soldier Field – Chicago, Ill.
  • University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Ariz.

What's the format?

The tournament format is relatively straightforward. The 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four teams each, with each team set to play the other teams in their group once. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout round, with the eight remaining teams then playing a single-elimination, advance-or-go-home tournament culminating in the June 26 final.
If tied at the end of regulation, group stage matches will end as a draw, while knockout round games will move directly to a penalty shootout. If the final finishes tied, the teams will play two 15-minute periods of extra time and, if still tied, will decide the title in a penalty shootout.

Unlike other regional championships, the Copa America Centenario winner will not earn a berth to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have already determined their representatives for the Confederations Cup, with Mexico beating the US in the CONCACAF Cup in October to earn a spot in Russia and Chile qualifying for the tournament by virtue of their 2015 Copa America title.

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