How often does Copa America take place? Finals & all you need to know

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The 2019 Copa America is in full swing this summer in Brazil as holders Chile attempt to defend their title, with 12 teams battling it out to be crowned continental champions.

You may be surprised, however, to learn that there is another Copa America tournament to be held next year in 2020.

This means that there will be two Copa America tournaments held back-to-back, a deviation from the usual norm where international competitions are separated by a longer time period. The European championships, for instance, are held every four years, while the Africa Cup of Nations is held every two years. 

So why are there two Copa America tournaments in a row? 

In short, CONMEBOL – the governing body of South American football – announced in 2018 that they wanted to change the competition calendar so that Copa America would be held the same year as the Euros, starting from 2020 onwards. 

"I want to make public that we have submitted a request to FIFA to have the Copa America played in even years from 2020," said CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez. 

At this point, the tournament was being held every four years starting from the 2007 edition. But Copa America has historically never followed a consistent tournament schedule. From 1987 until 2001, the event was hosted every two years in rotation by the 10 members of the confederation. From 2001 to 2007, however, it was changed to occurring every three years. 

Chile Copa America 2015

Even prior to 1987, the tournament oversaw a massively erratic schedule. Most tournaments were held every four years, but a handful were held every two years, every other year and some back-to-back. From 1967 to 1975, there was an eight-year gap between editions. 

The 2015 edition, held in Chile, was the last edition to be held during regular rotation of every four years. CONMEBOL held a special 2016 edition of the tournament – the Copa America Centenario – that was a celebration 100 years of CONMEBOL and the Copa America. It was a special one-off tournament that came just a year after the 2015 Copa America, and the current 2019 edition follows the traditional four-year schedule off the backs of 2015. 

But now, CONMEBOL announced their plans to change their format to have the tournament played every four summers in even years starting from 2020. 

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Anchoring their decision on their desire to play the same format as the Euros, they theoretically would have had to wait until 2024 – the next edition of Europe's showpiece summer tournament – to have implemented the change. 

Instead, they decided to bring the tournament schedule change further forward, which means back-to-back Copa America tournaments in 2019 and 2020. 

Copa America 2020 will be held dually in Colombia and Argentina, marking the first time it will be hosted by more than one country since 1983.