The COPA America Argentina 2011 is here and kicks-off July 1st with host Argentina facing Bolivia. The 95 year old tournament features 12 teams (all 10 South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL) members and 2 guest countries, Mexico and Costa Rica) and 26 games played in 8 venues throughout Argentina with the final taking place Sunday, July 24th at Antonio Vespucio Liberti Stadium in Buenos Aires. Beyond the basic tournament info, here are some fun facts you might not be aware of …
Something old: The South-American Football championship (the European version, UEFA’s EURO 2012 will kick-off next summer) was first organized in 1916 by Argentina and included neighboring countries Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The first winner, Uruguay, led by its footbol director, collaborated with the other three nations’ directors and founded the South-American Football Confederatrion.
Something new: Lucas Barrios, Argentina-born Borrusia Dortmund striker, only made his international debut for Paraguay last year so this will be his first Copa. Look for fireworks from him (even after July 4th) and a possible Golden Boot for most goals scored.
Something borrowed: Japan was the only country from outside the American continent to be invited to participate in the Copa. They played in the 1999 tournament hosted by Paraguay and were scheduled to play this year before backing out because of the recent Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Something blue: Host Argentina and Uruguay sport variations of blue uniforms. In the 42 previous editions of the Copa, both Argentina and Uruguay have raised the trophy 14 times (tied for the most) with Argentina also being crowned the runner-up a record 10 times.