The First Copa America
The Copa America began in 1916. Argentina organized the soccer championship to celebrate the centennial of its independence, inviting Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
Uruguay was crowned champion Isabelino Gradín finishing as the top scorer of the event with three goals.
Winner as Host Country
Uruguay, winner of the first edition of the Copa America, hosted the tournament in 1917. Chile and Bolivia took part but were defeated by Uruguay.
Uruguay's Angel Romano was the top scorer with four goals of the event. Héctor Scarone, also considered by sports critics as one of the best players of all time, made his debut in the event.
This tournament should have been played in 1918, but was delayed one year because of an epidemic in host city Rio de Janeiro. The four original countries played again, with Brazil winning its first title.
In this edition, Brazilian Arthur Friedenreich and Neco, with four goals each, were the top scorers of the tournament.
Uruguay, Three-Time Champion
In 1920 in the Chilean port of Valparaiso, Uruguay became three-time champion, defeating the same four countries that had participated in the tournament since 1916. Uruguayan Angel Roman and Jose Perez tied for top scorers with three goals each.
Debut of Paraguay and Argentina’s First Tournament
For the 1921 series, Paraguay made its debut but Chile did not participate. Argentina won the championship with striker Julio Libonatti scoring three goals.
Libonatti later became the first South American player to be transferred to Europe, playing with Torino in Italy.
A Championship with Few Participants
The 1925 Argentina championship was the Copa series with the least number of participating teams in the history of Copa America, with only three countries - Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina - taking part.
Argentina became the champion for the second time and Argentine Manuel Seoane was the top scorer with six goals.
The 1926 championship was also held in Chile. Bolivia debuted ibut Uruguay finished as champion again. Hector Scarone, Hector Castro and Chilean Guillermo Subiabre were the top scorers with six goals each.
In 1927, Peru participated in the tournament for the first time. It was also the first time the country organized the event. Argentina won the championship and Uruguay’s Roberto Figueroa was named the top scorer with four goals.
For the first time ever, Argentina began night matches in the Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo Stadium. Argentina won the title and the top scorer of the tournament was Chilean Raul Toro, with seven goals.
Peru Breaks the Hegemony of the Atlantic
The 1939 edition of the Copa was held in Lima, and host country Peru ended the dominance of the Atlantic teams by winning the Copa America with an outstanding performance from star player Teodoro "Lolo" Fernandez, who became the top scorer of the tournament with six goals.
Ecuador made its debut in the Copa America in 1941, the same year host country Chile inaugurated the National Stadium in Santiago. The tournament was marked by standout performances from various soccer players, including Uruguayans Obdulio Varela and Jose Manuel Moreno and Argentine Adolfo Pedernera, who became heroes in their home countries.
Argentina won the tournament and Argentine Juan Malvezzi finished as top scorer with five goals.
Uruguay 1942: Argentina 12- Ecuador 0
In 1942, Uruguay again hosted the Copa America and won the title. Argentina registered an overwhelming victory over Ecuador, winning 12-0, but remained in second place, two points behind Uruguay. In Brazil, Zizinho, the player who inspired Pele and played for the Canarinho for 15 years until 1957, made his debut on the team.
In 1945, Chile hosted the Copa America for the fourth time. Colombia made its debuted in the tournament, playing six games and finished with 7 goals for and 25 against. Argentina took the title and Argentine Norberto “Tucho” Mendez and the Brazilian Heleno de Freitas took top scorers with six goals each.
Ecuador Organizes Games for the First Time and Argentina Becomes 3-Time Champion
In 1947, Ecuador organized the Copa America for the first time, hosting the tournament in the Guayaquil. Argentina won its third championship in a row and Uruguayan Nicolás Falero was the top scorer of the tournament with seven goals.
Brazil Wins 3rd Championship
In 1949, Brazil hosted the tournament for the third time and earned its third title. Scoring 46 goals in eight games, the team reached an average of 5.75 goals per game. Jair was the top scorer with nine goals.
Paraguay’s First Cup
The 1953 edition was hosted by Peru and organized by Paraguay. Peru won the title for the first time in its history, but Chilean Francisco Molina finished as the leading scorer in the tournament with eight goals.
The Top Scorers of the Tournament
In the 1957 tournament also in Peru, Argentina won another title. Argentina's Humberto Maschio and Uruguay's Javier Ambrois were the top scorers of the tournament with nine goals each. Zizinho tied “Tucho” Mendez’s record of 17 goals and the players remain as the top scorers in the history of the Copa America.
Argentina 1959: Pele’s and Garrincha’s Debut
Pele and Garrincha debuted in 1959 edition of the Copa America in Buenos Aires. Both were world champions a year earlier in Sweden. Argentina won the championship, while Pelé finished as top scorer with eight goals.
Uruguay Wins Its Tenth Copa
The 1959 championship in Ecuador was an extraordinary edition of the Copa America. Uruguay won its tenth title and the top scorer was Argentine José Sanfilippo, with five goals.
Uruguay hosted the Copa America in 1967, with Venezuela making its debut in the South American championship. Uruguay won the title and Argentine Luis Artime became the top scorer with five goals.
Cup Without a Host Country
In 1975, the Copa America was played without a host country.This occurred again in the next two tournaments in 1979 and 1983. In the 1975 series, Peru won its second title, defeating Colombia in Caracas. Colombian Ernesto Diaz and Argentine Leopoldo Luque, were the top scorers of the tournament, with four goals each.
Diego Armando Maradona Makes His Debut
Paraguay was crowned champion for the first time in the 1979 Copa America, with a team featuring young players including Julio Cesar Romero and Roberto Cabanas. This was the first time Argentina's Diego Maradona played in the tournament.
Uruguay Wins Another Championship in 1983
In the 1983 edition of the Copa America, Uruguay was named champion again, winning the final against Brazil, 2-0 in Montevideo and drawing 1-1 in Salvador. This was the first of three continental titles won by the Uruguayan Enzo Francescoli.
Copa America Returns to Host Country Format
The 1987 Copa America was played in Argentina, returning to the host-country format after three tournaments without an official host. Uruguay won the title by beating Chile 1-0 in the final, and host country Argentina in the semifinals. At the time, Argentina was a world champion with Diego Maradona at the height of his career.
Brazil, Four-Time Champion
Brazil was crowned as a champion for the fourth time in its history in 1989, with a team that had Romario and Bebeto leading the charge. Bebeto became the top scorer of the tournament with six goals.
Argentina Wins after More Than 30 Years
In Chile 1991, Argentina won the title again after 32 years. Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta was the top scorer of the tournament with six goals.
The Inclusion of Non South American Teams
In the 1993 edition in Ecuador, teams from outside South America (Mexico and the United States) participated for the first time. Argentina beat Mexico in the final and won the title for the fourteenth—and last—time. The top scorer was Venezuelan Jose Luis Dolgetta, with four goals.
Uruguay Wins Its 14th Title
Uruguay hosted the Copa America in 1995, winning its fourteenth title after beating Brazil—then world champions—in the final on penalties (5-3). Argentine Gabriel Batistuta and Luis Garcia Mexico were the top scorers of the tournament with four goals.
Bolivia, Host Country for the First Time
In 1997, Bolivia hosted the tournament for the first time. Brazil won its first title outside of home with a star-studded team led by Romario, Dunga and Ronaldo. Mexican Luis Hernandez was the top scorer of the tournament with six goals.
Paraguay Hosts Its First Copa America
Paraguay hosted the Copa America for the first time in 1999. Brazil was crowned champion with Ronaldo and Rivaldo in their ranks, and Ronaldinho on the bench, who over the years would become one of the best players in history.
The Argentine striker Martin Palermo missed three penalties in the match against Colombia.
Colombia Organizes and Wins Its First Copa America
In 2001, for the first time in its history, Colombia hosted and won the tournament, remaining undefeated in six games. The striker Victor Hugo Aristizabal was the top scorer with six goals.
Peru Organizes Its Sixth Tournament
In 2004, Peru organized for the Copa America for the sixth time. Brazil took the title after beating Argentina 4-2 on penalties in the final. Brazilian Adriano was the top scorer of the event with six goals.
Debut of Venezuela and Messi
Venezuela hosted the Copa America for the first time in 2007. Brazil won the title for the eighth time after beating Argentina 3-0 in the final. Argentine and FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi played in his first Copa America, scoring two goals.
Uruguay Shines in the World Cup and Copa America
The 2011 Copa America was held in Argentina. Uruguay, after its great performance in the World Cup 2010 where it finished fourth, continued to strong performances under coach Oscar Tabarez. The team won their fifteenth title in the Copa America, becoming the country with the most tournament wins.
Chile Hosts and Wins
In last year’s Copa America, Chile was crowned champion for the first time after defeating Argentina in penalty kicks. Chile had previously won four semifinals: 1955, 1956, 1979 and 1987.