Copa America 2016: History Of The Oldest Continental Tournament
The Copa America is the oldest continental team tournament in the history of soccer with its first edition being played in 1916.
The AFC Asian Cup came about in 1956; the African Cup of Nations (CAN) in 1957; the UEFA European Championship in 1960; Concacaf Gold Cup (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) in 1961 and the OFC Nations Cup (Oceania) in 1973.
The South American competition has an even older predecessor: the Copa Centenario Revolucion de Mayo was the first international soccer tournament in South America.
There are only two tournaments between national teams that are older than Copa America. The British Home Championship was played from 1883 to 1984 and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (which converted to Northern Ireland from 1949) competed. The other older tournament is the Olympic Games.
Olympic soccer at national level debuted at London 1908. The very first “modern” Olympics in Athens 1896 did not include soccer and at Paris 1900 and San Luis 1904 the discipline had been played between club teams.
In Copa America, Uruguay and Argentina have won the most titles over the years with 15 and 14, respectively.
In the first four editions of the tournament (called the South American Football Championship up until 1975) only Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil participated.
Paraguay started to join the tournament in the 1921 edition; Bolivia joined in 1926. Peru started to participate from 1927; Ecuador in 1939. Colombia joined in 1945 and Venezuela in 1967.
In Paraguay 1999 there was an unusual event when Japan participated. This was the first non-American team to play in Copa America.
The Asian side were also invited to Argentina 2011 but they turned it down due to the disaster caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami which happened in Japan on March 11, 1999, killing 15,000 people and causing the disappearance of over 9,000 people.
Mexico is the invited team that has participated the most in the tournament (nine times) and consecutively since 1993.
In the 2015 edition, Jamaica was invited to compete and were eliminated in the group stages after losing all matches 0-1.