Celebration has begun in Chile after an agreement was struck with Brazil that will see the country host the 44th edition of the Copa América.
The soccer tournament is held every four years and rotated around the different countries of South America, and 2015 was scheduled to be Brazil’s year.
But with the country’s soccer stadiums set to host the Confederations Cup in 2013, the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, sporting officials opted to postpone holding the Copa América for another four years.
So they turned to Chile.
Chile has a proud tradition in the world’s oldest international continental soccer tournament. 2015 will be the seventh occasion that it has had the honor of being Copa América host – the first came in 1920, then 1926, 1941, 1945, 1955 and finally 1991.
Although La Roja – as the Chilean football team is known – have come agonizingly close on many occasions, and have been runners up in four different editions, they are yet to triumph in a tournament that includes some of the world’s great soccer nations, such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
But with a generation of young Chilean football stars approaching the peak of their powers – like Alexis Sánchez, currently shining at the world’s best club team, and Eduardo Vargas, who spearheaded Universidad de Chile’s recent Copa Libertadores triumph – and with hordes of passionate fans supporting them, Chile has never has had a better opportunity to triumph on the international stage.
The tournament will make the most of new stadiums in regional cities like Coquimbo, Chillán and Temuco, as well as in the Santiago district of La Florida, that were built to host the women’s World Cup in 2008.
Over the next three years there is expected to be a further US$75 million invested in the development of facilities in Antofagasta, La Serena, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar and Concepción, as well as the remodelling of Santiago’s historic Estadio Nacional, which will increase its capacity to 60,000 spectators.
This post is also available in Spanish