1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Copa America in the US: Immigrants fill the coffers

Tobias Käufer
June 21, 2024

The US is hosting the competition for the second time. Hispanics, in particular, guarantee that the Copa America will be an economic success.

 Lionel Messi playing alone on the pitch in his Argentina jersey
Lionel Messi wants to lead Argentina to another international title at the Copa AmericaImage: Nick Wass/AP/picture alliance

Euro 2024 in Germany has made Europe the hub of the soccer world this summer - or so the European governing body, UEFA, would like you to believe. With the Copa America, the world's oldest competition of national football teams, Latin America is a strong competitor. It's due to a decision by the South American football association, CONMEBOL, which entered into a strategic partnership CONCACAF, the football association of North and Central America and the Caribbean, to play the tournament in the US. Their declared goal is to strengthen and further develop football in both regions. 

The 48th edition of the Copa America will compete with Euro 2024 for global viewers through to the Copa's final on July 14. The success of the tournament was never in doubt, even in the run-up to the event. Five international friendly matches in the US ahead of the tournament drew 300,000 fans. As the head of Major League Soccer, Don Garber, put it in an interview with "The Athletic", the US market is a "cash machine for the soccer world".

Latino fans pour money into the coffers

"It is definitely a great opportunity for all Latinos living in the USA to see their national teams and players," CONMEBOL's  marketing director, Juan Emilio Roa, told DW. "The income from the tickets sold to this large community will undoubtedly have a noticeable impact on the Copa America. But we also have spectators from the USA, Canada and the rest of the world." According to its own information, the continental association had already sold over a million tickets before the tournament kicked off on Thursday evening. The previous Copa record of 1.4 million tickets sold in 2016 is likely to be surpassed.

Lionel Messi kisses the Copa trophy amid celebrations for Argentina's win
Argentina won the 2021 Copa defeating tournament hosts BrazilImage: Amanda Perobelli/REUTERS

It is mainly soccer fans with Latin American roots who fill the huge, ultra-modern US stadiums for the Copa. Perhaps the biggest difference between the European Championship taking place in Germany and the Copa America in the US: While fans from all over Europe are flocking to Germany to watch the European Championship games, many fans of the visiting teams at the Copa already live in the United States. Hispanics make up almost a fifth of the US population based on 2021 numbers, about 62.5 milion people. 

Host cities recognize Copa America's appeal

It's become clear to the US that hosting the Copa America offers global appeal that stands toe-to-toe with the European Championship. "Hosting two games of the prestigious Copa America, including the opening match between Argentina and Canada, is a great honor for our region," Dan Corso, President of the Atlanta Sports Council, told DW. The tournament kicked off in Atlanta, the biggest city in the southern state of Georgia.

World Cup winners Argentina and superstar Lionel Messi provided the necessary glamor in a victory over Canada. Even tickets for average seat locations cost the equivalent of up to €250, prices that could rarely be realized in a South American country. 

In Atlanta, the host of the 1996 Summer Olympics, organizers have recognized the advertising value of the Copa. Latin America, with its 600 million inhabitants, is becoming an increasingly interesting market in view of geopolitical changes. "The international attention that comes with hosting this event and teams of this caliber is invaluable," said Corso, who pointed to the city's recent sporting history. "We are an experienced host city, and are set up to host major global sporting events. We (also) look forward to welcoming international soccer fans from all over the world to our region in two years' time for the 2026 FIFA World Cup."

Global stars promise a sporting spectacle

For the second time since 2016, when the South American Copa celebrated its 100th anniversary, the tournament is being played in the US and is also open to teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. In sporting terms, South America has little to fear. The continent has seen home nations crowned world champion ten times so far: five times for Brazil, three times for Argentina and twice for Uruguay.

Rodrygo and Endrick are seen celebrting a goal for Brazil
Rodrygo (l.) and Endrick form two sides of Brazil's "magic triangle"Image: Jose Breton/AP/picture alliance

At this Copa, all eyes will be on the new "magic triangle" from Brazil with the 17-year-old super talent Endrick, along with the already world-class stars Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo, who will soon all be wearing the jersey of Champions League winners Real Madrid. They will try to topple the favored Argentines. A Brazil versus Argentina final  — from a Latin American perspective —  would be the dream title match on July 14 in Miami. There are few cities in the world where such a final could be better marketed than in Florida's southernmost metropolis.

This article was adapted from German