Messi and Neymar are likely to play in the Copa America in the United States in 2024
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Marta may soon come to a city near you.
The United States will host the next men’s Copa America, the CONMEBOL Championship, in 2024. The tournament will feature all ten South American men’s teams plus the top six teams from CONCAC.
The locations of the Copa America were not announced on Friday, but they are likely to be in cities that have already been selected to host the men’s World Cup in 2026. The United States, Canada and Mexico are co-hosts of that tournament.
The Copa América announcement was part of a larger agreement between CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, and CONCACAF, which is made up of teams from Central and North America and the Caribbean. The continental federations will also organize a 12-team tournament for women in 2024 in the United States, and a club competition featuring the two best teams from each federation.
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Who will be in the Copa America?
All ten South American teams plus the top six teams in the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League. So Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, and potentially the USMNT, Canada, and Mexico.
Although Messi said the last World Cup was his last, he said after Argentina’s victory in Qatar that he would continue to play for the Albiceleste for a little longer so he could enjoy their status as world champions. Argentina are the reigning Copa America champions, so expect Messi to stick with it.
Why is it important?
The Copa America is one of the most prestigious tournaments in men’s soccer after the World Cup, featuring some of the world’s best players. For the USMNT, which is almost certainly one of CONCACAF’s six teams, this is much needed competition.
Not only does the USMNT have to go into qualifying as a co-host for the 2026 World Cup, but that also takes more than a dozen games off its schedule. Games that are critical to setup and development. The Copa América replaces some of those, and it does so with high-profile opponents. If the USMNT is going to have a realistic shot at winning the World Cup, they need to test themselves against the best in the world, and there aren’t many better teams out there than Argentina and Brazil right now.
The Copa America will be a rehearsal for the 2026 organisers, giving them a chance to identify any potential problems with plenty of time to address them.
When and where will all these tournaments be held?
No details were given other than to say that all three will take place in 2024, the Copa America and the Women’s Gold Cup in the United States.
What are these other leagues?
CONCACAF is expanding its Women’s Gold Cup to the top four teams in South America. FIFA is trying to encourage countries to invest in their women’s programs outside of the World Cup, and a high-profile tournament featuring some of the world’s best players is a good start.
The USWNT is already there, having won the Gold Cup last year. CONCACAF’s other Olympic team, which will be either Canada or Jamaica, will also get automatic berths. The remaining six CONCACAF teams will be decided in a tournament later this summer.
South America will send the top four from last year’s Copa America: Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay.
The Club Championship will be a “Final Four” style event, with the top two teams from each region. No details of how it will be determined will be used, except for “current…contests”.