The Oldest Championship in the World
Overwhelmed by the growth of football in the country and in the South-American continent, the Argentineans organized an international tournament, in 1916, also taking advantage of the fact that they were celebrating the centennial of the country’s independence. In July of that same year, neighboring countries Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, were invited by the Argentinean Ministry of Foreign Relations to take part in the event. This gave birth to the South-American Football championship, presently known as the Copa América.
On July 2nd, 1916, Uruguay and Chile met in the curtain-raiser of the tournament, at the Gimnasia y Esgrima Stadium, in Buenos Aires. The Uruguayans thrashed the Chileans 4-nil, confirming their superiority in the sport at the start of the past century. Enthused by the success of the competition, Uruguayan football director Héctor Rivadavia Gómez put into action a personal project, and with the aid of Brazilian Argentinean and Chilean football directors, founded the South-American Football Confederation. The chosen date for the foundation was the exact date of the Centennial of the Independence of the Republic of Argentina, July 9th.
With the creation of the Conmebol, the tournament organized by Argentina acquired official status, becoming the oldest national team competition in the world. In its first edition, the Copa América Trophy wasn’t up for grabs yet, something that would happen the following year. The trophy, made by the Argentinean Ministry of Foreign Relations, was lifted by Uruguay, who won two matches and drew one. Striker Isabelino Gradín, leading scorer with 3 goals, was the standout of the competition. The Uruguayan athlete was also a South-American record-holder in the 200 and 400- meter dash in Track & Field.