“How could the ref make that call!”
“We’re going to win!”
“I CAN’T believe we lost!”
As the Copa América Centenario goes on this year in the United States, these can all be heard from 1000s of fans across the country and everyone watching internationally on TV.
Copa América is the South American men’s soccer cup that is held every 4 years and includes 10 South American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela. To make it 12 teams participating, 2 more countries are invited to join, usually from Central or North America.
The countries that have won the Copa most often are Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil (in that order).
This year (2016) there’s a special Copa América Centenario to celebrate it’s 100th year anniversary
It’s being hosted in the United States and there were 16 countries participating in it –10 of the regular South American countries plus Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, México, Panamá and the United States.
The next Copa América is set for 2019 in Brazil.
The Copa América experience
Copa América games give people the chance to represent their country, to dress in their colours, their jerseys, decorate with their flags and have fun with family and friends. Even those who don’t follow soccer normally will be getting together with others to watch, eat, drink and yell along with the game.
With the Copa América Centenario being in the United States, my husband and I wanted to go as soon as we heard about it since we live in Canada.
He’s from Chile and I’m from Colombia so we looked for those games first. One of the Chilean games in the 1st round against Bolivia was being held in Boston, MA so we decided to go with his family members. We looked at the Colombia games in the quarterfinals but the prices for the tickets were too high, especially with the currency exchange rate, so we didn’t go.
I love the energy and excitement of going to live soccer games
Driving to and then walking to the stadium is full of people yelling out cheers, laughing and cars beeping as they drive by. People talk to each other easily and it was great to have conversations with other fans along our walk and in any lineup.
I especially love when I can hear the drums playing and people chanting. It can get quite tense as the game goes on, how the referee makes his calls and how the players are playing since there’s always a chance for either team to win.
Chile won this game and it was a happy occasion with the celebration continuing after the game.
How the Copa América works
Before the tournament starts, there’s a draw to divide up the 12 countries into 3 groups of 4 countries.
In the current Copa América Centenario, there are 4 groups of 4 countries since there were 16 countries.
1st round – 12 countries, 18 games
In the 1st round, each country within the group plays each other once so each country plays 3 games.
When they win they receive 3 points and if they tie they get 1 point.
At the end of the first round, the top 2 teams in the group advance to the next round, the quarterfinals. The 2 teams in 3rd place with the most points also advance. If the countries are tied in their number of points, the number of goals will be used to figure out who advances.
In the current Copa América Centenario, only the top 2 teams from each group advance without the option for the 3rd place teams. There were also 24 games in this round since there were 16 countries.
Quarterfinals – 8 countries, 4 games
In the quarterfinals, it gets even more interesting since the loser of the match is eliminated. They have one game that they have to win to advance to the next round, the semi-finals.
If there’s a tie after the 90 minutes of regular play time, it goes to a penalty shootout where 5 players from each team take turns shooting at the net with only the goalkeeper. The team with the most goals wins the game.
Semi-finals – 4 countries, 2 games
In the semi-finals, it gets even more tense since the winners of the 2 semi-final games go to the finals and the ones who didn’t win play the 3rd place game.
In the current Copa América Centenario, as of early June 22nd, there are 4 teams left – Chile, Colombia, Argentina, United States – and 3 more games to figure out which country ends up in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.
Since Argentina won their game against the United States on June 21st, they will be playing in the final on June 26th. The United States will be playing for 3rd place on June 25th.
Later today, Chile and Colombia are playing to determine who will be going to the final with Argentina and who will be going to the 3rd place game with the United States.
For my husband and I and our relatives, we’ll be in a friendly competition today as we wait to see who plays better and makes it to the final game. Well, it’ll definitely be an interesting game and one of us will have our country in the final!