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Copa América winners

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Checked by Dasha G.Elena I.

You might think the oldest continental soccer competition in the world would have a giant list of winners. However, you’d be wrong — only eight national teams have ever won the Copa América.

With the tournament heading into its 48th edition, now’s a perfect time to look at the history of the Copa América, and analyze all the Copa América winners and runner-ups of years past.

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Editor’s note: how we rank operators

These Copa América betting sites are ranked according to the odds and quality of their Copa América bets.

If you see a bookie with a lower ‘Sports and markets’ rating ranking higher on the list, it means that while this sportsbook may lack in other sports and leagues, it excels in soccer betting and tailors the offer to the CONMEBOL Copa América tournament.

History of the Copa América

The Copa América finds its roots far back in an unofficial event in 1910. Argentina, wanting to celebrate the centenary of the May Revolution, would host a small tournament between them, Chile, and Uruguay.

This event would go so well that six years later Argentina would organize it again to celebrate the centenary of its independence. Now adding Brazil to the mix, this 1916 edition became the first official Copa América (then named the South American Football Championship), and the participating teams would form the organization known as CONMEBOL.

The tournament ran each subsequent year ’til 1929 (barring 1918 when it had to be canceled thanks to a flu outbreak). Then, chaos would erupt largely thanks to the enmity between founding members Argentina and Uruguay. The tournament was hosted irregularly, and many editions have seen disputes on whether they should be counted as official.

Finally in 1975 order would return, with the event changing its name to Copa América. The event would be organized on a four-year rotation, then a two-year rotation in 1987, then back to a four-year rotation in 2001. In 2016 a special edition was organized for the Copa América Centenario, to be hosted every centenary onward.

In 2020 the Copa América would swap to even numbers, to be in line with the UEFA Euro cup and to relaunch the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions. Winners of the Copa América and the Euro now battle each other the subsequent year of the tournament in the event known as the “Finalissima”.

Copa América winners and runner-ups

Even though the Copa América has been around for over 100 years and is in its 48th edition, there have only been eight winners of the cup.

Currently, Argentina takes the lead for most wins with 16 wins under their belt. Argentina takes the lead though by also having the most runner-up trophies with 14 second-place positions recorded.

No Copa América winners have ever been CONCACAF teams. One CONCACAF team, Mexico, has managed to secure a runner-up position twice, so perhaps CONCACAF’s luck will change soon.

⚽ Team 🏆 Copa América cups won🥈 Runners-up📅 First title📅 Latest title
Argentina161419212024
Uruguay15619162011
Brazil91219192019
Paraguay2619531979
Chile2420152016
Peru2119391975
Bolivia111963N/A
Colombia122001N/A
Mexico02N/AN/A

Copa América’s top players

The 100 years of Copa América has given us 100 years of incredible soccer players. Some have managed to shine above the rest, showing incredible form and, of course, scoring great goals.

Surprisingly, the Copa América’s top scorers are almost all players from the 50s with our modern-day players struggling to catch up. Even eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi has yet to make the list. We’ve gathered a list of the cup’s top scorers and presented this little snippet of South American history below:

Norberto Mendez soccer shirt
Argentine player

Norberto "Tucho" Mendez

The late great Tucho Mendez beats out Lionel Messi for the title of the greatest Argentine Copa América player. With 17 goals in 17 matches, Tucho achieved the highest goals scored and best goal average of any Copa América player.

Zizinho soccer shirt
Brazilian player

Thomaz "Zizinho" Soares da Silva

A footballer so legendary he became Pele’s idol, Zizinho is widely considered to have been one of soccer’s most complete players. He’s tied with Tucho for most goals with 17 goals scored, though he has a lower goal average.

Severino Varela soccer shirt
Uruguayan player

Severino Varela Puente

Varela trails close behind at 15 goals scored during his history in the Copa América. Fun fact: Varela never missed a single penalty in his entire career.

Teodoro Fernández soccer shirt
Peruvian player

Teodoro "Lolo" Fernández Meyzán

The Peruvian champion of the 1939 Copa América, Lolo managed to score seven goals in just four games. He would total 15 goals in 24 games, with his powerful kicks granting him the nickname El Cañonero (The Cannoneer).

Eduardo Vargas soccer shirt
Chilean player

Eduardo Jesús Vargas Rojas

The only current-day footballer on this list, Vargas has scored 14 goals in his four appearances in the Copa América and was the champion and top-scorer of the 2015 and 2016 editions. With the 2024 Copa América approaching, Vargas has a new chance to score more goals and rise up the ranks.

Fun facts about the Copa América

Being the oldest continental soccer tournament in the world, the Copa América has seen some weird things happen over the years. We can’t list all 113 years of wacky history, but we’ve picked out a few of the more fun facts for you all to enjoy.

  • Icona Medaglia

    Awards for everyone

    Why should the winners get all the fun? Runner-ups also get the Bolivia Cup along with their silver medals, and fourth place even gets a copper medal. If that’s not all, every single team gets a diploma to show they participated.

  • Star Outline

    Who needs wins anyway?

    In 2011, Paraguay made it all the way to the Copa América final without winning a single match. They tied all their group games and then progressed on penalties through the knockout stage. Uruguay would halt their streak in the final with a 3–0 win.

  • Sprechblase

    What’s in a name?

    The tournament wasn’t always called the Copa América. From its inception in 1916 to 1975, it was called the South American Football Championship before being changed to Copa América. Neither name is accurate, with teams like Japan and Qatar having been invited to play.

  • Best

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

    The Copa América trophy hasn’t changed since its creation in 1916, coming out of a jewelry store in Buenos Aires. The only exception has been the Copa América Centenario in 2016, with a special trophy being made for the 100-year anniversary. That trophy will be lifted again in 2116 and for every other future Copa América Centenario.

Sources

  1. https://copaamerica.com/en/
  2. https://adage.com/article/marketing-news-strategy/why-copa-america-may-be-2024s-biggest-cultural-moment-sports-us/2552466
  3. https://copaamerica.com/news/conmebol-copa-america-10-datos-que-no-sabias/?lang=en

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