The Copa America is South america's soccer championship for national squads. It is also the most important soccer tournament in the American continent. The tournament features all 10 teams from CONMEBOL (the South American branch of FIFA), plus two additional teams that get invited to each edition of the cup.
The tournament dates back to 1916 when it's first edition was organized. It was held in Argentina to commemorate the countries centennial celebrations, and it had only four participating teams. Afterwards, the tournament continued to be played under the name "Campeonato Suramericano de Selecciones" (South American National Teams Tournament), until it took it's current name in 1975.
This tournament became the world's oldest soccer tournament for national teams after the British Home Championship was discontinued. It started off as an unregulated tournament, taking place once a year, but it was later set to be played every two years. In 1986, CONMEBOL decided to make the tournament mandatory for it's 10 member teams and to have one country host the event each time, rotating the hosting rights amongst it's members. This system has been in effect since the 1987 edition in Argentina and culminated with the 2007 Copa America in Venezuela. A new cycle is set to start with the 2011 edition of the tournament in Argentina.
2011 Copa America Host Nation - Argentina
The host nation for the 2011 Copa America has a deeply rooted football tradition; Argentina has won two World Cup Championships (1978 and 1986), and has two second place finishes (1930 and 1990). Argentina also shares the record for most Copa America titles with Uruguay, both squads have won the tournament 14 times; Argentina's last championship came in 1993. The country's professional soccer clubs also have a remarkable record, having the most Copa Libertadores titles in total, with 22, and claiming a total of 9 World Club Titles as of 2010.
The city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is considered one of the capitals of world football. Here are the two most important teams in the country, Club Atlético Boca Juniors and Club Atlético River Plate.
The dispute between the two teams is known as the Super Derby of Argentine Football, soccer and each clash paralyzes the country. These parties attract the attention of journalists worldwide, not just for the game itself, but also for the show made by fans in the stands before and after the game.
In Buenos Aires there is also the Club Atletico Argentino Juniors team where first played as a professional player, Diego Armando Maradona.
The Stadium of Club Atletico River Plate, which will host the final of the Copa America, was the venue of the final at 1978 World Cup 1978.
The Province of San Juan is developing a growth in their participation at official competitions of football in Argentina. The best current example is the Club Atlético San Martín, who plays in the second division.
One of the most important football in the province was during the access of Club Atlético San Martín for the first division, in 2006/2007 season.
The most important derby of the province is disputed between Club Atlético San Martín and Club Sportivo Desamparado, team who currently plays in the third division.
The characteristic that distinguishes the fans of San Juan for the others is the spectacle of their fans, which are characterized by their flags and colorful fireworks.
Cordoba is a province that stands out by the fanaticism of their supporters. Clashes between the teams in the province has a high profile, regardless of the tournament to be played or the teams position in the table.
The fans are always present at the stadium almost entirely with the colors representing their teams. The days that preceded the games, there are jokes in the streets between rival supporters. The most popular derby of the province is between the Club Atletico Belgrano and Talleres Club Atlético.
Currently there are two teams in the second division of Argentine football: Club Atlético Belgrano and Instituto Atlético Central.
In the third division of Argentine football there are five teams competing and this province is booming. One of them is the Club Atlético Talleres, champion of the Copa CONMEBOL in 1999.
As mentioned above, the strong sport in San Juan is roller hockey. However, in football the city is represented by San Martin, of the Argentine Second Division. The team has only been in the First Division on two occasions, in 1970 and also in 2007/08. Even though the team has no honours to its name, this is a ripe old club, having been established back in 1907. The city has two other clubs: Club Sportivo Desamparados and Club Atlético de la Juventud Alianza.
La Plata is the capital of Buenos Aires Province, a province that has the largest representation in the Argentine professional football, with 36 teams, 10 of which compete in the first, four in the second and 22 in the third division.
Among the teams with most importance from the standpoint of international achievements, there are the Club Atletico Independiente and Club Atletico Estudiantes, with many achievements for both teams in the world.
Due to the large number of professional teams, Buenos Aires has many derbies in their territory. Highlights for the match between Club Atlético Independiente and Racing Club, which paralyzed the cities and the challenge against Athletic Club Estudiantes and Club Gimnasia y Esgrima of La Plata. There are also games that are sympathetically called neighborhood derbies, as the match between Club Atlético Lanús and Club Atlético Banfield.
The city of La Plata, one of the venues for the Copa America, is characterized by the fanaticism of its inhabitants, and its most important teams, like the Club Estudantes and Club Gimnasia, who have great fans and they make a great derby when face each other.
San Salvador de Jujuy
Jujuy Province has a long history of great games in their leagues. The most representative team is Club Atlético Gimnasia y Esgrima, who played all the divisions of access, getting his best result in 1994, with an access to the first division of Argentine football.
In 2000, the club returned to compete in the second division by repeating the victory achieved in 1994 in 2005.
In games played in their stadium, it is possible to see the fanaticism that their fans have for the institution.
Currently, the club is the sole representative of the province in the professional football (second division).
The Province of Mendoza lives his best football moment because of one of its teams, Club Deportivo Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba, that not only represents the province in the first division of Argentine football, but is part of the 2011 Copa Libertadores.
The province is represented in the second division by Club Sportivo Independiente Rivadavia and in the third by Deportivo Maipú. It is characteristic of Mendoza´s fans, the massive attendance at stadiums.
A passion is observed in games of Mendoza´s teams with chants during the match, besides the presence of horns and flags in the stands.
Santa Fe is a province where football is a sport that paralyzes its inhabitants. Several teams represent the province in professional divisions. The most representative clubs are Club Atlético Colón, Club Atlético Newell´s Old Boys, Club Atlético Rosario Central and Club Atlético Unión.
Currently, two clubs play in the first division, Club Atletico Colon Club and Newells Old Boys. Four institutions are playing in the second and three in the third division.
The derbies among the province are between Colón and Unión and between Newell's and Rosario Central. Both games are events worthy of being seen by the color and passion of the fans in the stands.
Club Atlético Newell's Old Boys is a team in which passed two great icons of world football: Diego Armando Maradona and Lionel Messi, both in youth system divisions.
Club Atlético Rosario Central was champion of the Copa CONMEBOL in 1995.
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers
The South American Football Confederation, commonly known as CONMEBOL, is the continental governing body of association football in South America and it is one of FIFA's six continental confederations. The oldest continental confederation in the world, its headquarters are located inLuque, Paraguay, and its current president is Nicolás Leoz.