The Copa América (Spanish and Portuguese for "America Cup") is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation. It is the oldest surviving international tournament in the world starting in 1916.
The participating nations are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Two invited teams from other confederations complete the twelve team tournament: Mexico has been a regular since they were invited for the first time in 1993.
There is no qualification stage: all ten CONMEBOL teams compete by right, and others by invitation. The highest finishing member of CONMEBOL has the right to participate in the next edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but is not obliged to do so.
The Copa América is the oldest surviving international football competition in the world. It was held for the first time between July 2 and July 17, 1916 and won by Uruguay, as part of the commemorations of Argentina's independence centenary. CONMEBOL was founded during this event, on July 9 (Argentina's independence day). It was normally held every two years (though the intervals sometimes changed) until 2007, when CONMEBOL decided that the tournament would henceforth be held every four years, although provision was made for extraordinary stagings of the tournament if the ten national football federations wish it.
The tournament was previously known as Campeonato Sudamericano de Selecciones (South American Championship of National Teams). South American Championship of Nations was the official English language name. The current name has been used since 1975. Between 1975 and 1983 it had no host nation, and was held in a home and away fashion. In 1984, CONMEBOL adopted the policy of rotating the right to host the Copa América amongst the ten member confederations. The first rotation has now been completed following the Copa América 2007 which took place in Venezuela. A second rotation has been agreed to begin in 2011, with host countries rotating in alphabetical order, starting with Argentina.
Since 1993, two teams from other confederations, usually from CONCACAF whose members are geographically and culturally close, are also invited. Nations receiving invitations are Costa Rica (1997, 2001, 2004), Honduras (2001), Japan (1999), Mexico (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007), and the United States (1993, 1995, 2007). The United States has been invited every time since 1997 but frequently turned down the invitation due to scheduling conflicts with Major League Soccer. However, on October 30, 2006, the US Soccer Federation accepted the invitation for participation in the 2007 tournament, ending a 12 year absence. At Copa América 2001, Canada was an invitee, but on July 6, 2001 withdrew because of security concerns.