The Copa America is the world’s oldest international football competition and Australia will be joining the South American carnival in 2020.
The month-long festival of football pits the cream of South America’s national teams, and their stars including Leo Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, against each other, with invited guests adding extra colour to the party.
The Copa America 2020, held across Argentina and Colombia, is the 47th edition of the historic tournament, where Samba Kings, Brazil, will defend the title they won in 2019.
Given there are only 10 member nations of the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL, two guest nations from other FIFA confederations take the numbers up to 12.
For the first time ever, the Caltex Socceroos have accepted an invitation to take part in 2020, alongside fellow AFC competitor and FIFA World Cup 2022 hosts, Qatar.
Read on to learn about one of the fiercest competitions that Australia will have ever participated in, which runs from June 12-July 12, 2020
Brazil defeated Peru 3-1 in the 2019 Final at the Estadio de Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, after knocking-out age-old rivals Argentina in the semi-final.
That defeat once again denied superstar striker Messi a maiden international winner’s medal, as Argentina have not tasted victory since 1993.
His compatriot Diego Maradona never got his hands on the fiercely-competitive trophy either. The prize also eluded the great Pele, as Brazil went 40 years without winning the cup between 1949 and 1989.
The original world champions, Uruguay, remain the most successful side, lifting the coveted title a record 15 times, while Argentina are one triumph behind on 14. Current trophy holders Brazil have been crowned champions on nine occasions.
Since teams from North American and Asia started to be welcomed in 1993, no invitee has ever crashed the party and claimed victory, although Mexico have reached the final on two occasions in 1993 and 2001.
Football was beginning to the world by storm in the early 1900s. International competition was taking off in Europe, so South America’s four superpowers – Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Chile – united in Argentina in 1916 to battle for continental supremacy, with the winners lifting the first ever South American Football Championship.
Uruguay were the inaugural kings, winning five of the first eight annual events. Their dominance prompted the best in the world to face off at the Olympic Games, where La Celeste triumphed on European soil in 1924 and 1928.
The success of those competitions spawned the first World Cup in 1930, which Uruguay were bestowed the honour of hosting. Their golden generation were immortalised as the first official world champions.
The roots of the global sporting extravaganza we know now as the FIFA World Cup formed from the Copa America, as it was renamed in 1975, and now the Caltex Socceroos will become part of its rich history.
The ever-evolving tournament will be held every four years from 2020 and this edition will see a switch to six-team group stage for the first time, with teams separated into North and South Zones.
Colombia will host the North Zone, which includes defending champions Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
Argentina aim to end their trophy-drought, hosting a South Zone containing Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Australia and Qatar will be placed as the sixth team in each section at the official competition draw on Wednesday, 4 December.
The top four teams from each zone will advance to the quarter-finals, when a knock-out phase determines the 47th Copa America champions.
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