The simultaneous editions of the Copa America and Euro 2024 have put the competitions on a side-by-side display. The European Championship had the jump, as it kicked off one week before the Copa America. With five days gone in the Copa America, the tournament consisting of 16 teams from North and South America has been far less glamorous.

Empty seats, complaints about the quality of the pitch and fairly drab games have been a stark contrast to what has been going on in Germany. Energized crowds, sensational play from teams throughout the tournament and endless late goals and chances have made Euro 2024 stand out despite the group stage still happening. The winners of seeing such a great tournament have been the fans. The loser, on the other hand, has been the Copa America, which is constantly compared to the Euros.

Speaking after Argentina’s 2-0 win in the Copa America opener against Canada, Emiliano Martinez said the comparisons are clear. A shoddy pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium drew concerns from both Argentina and Canada.

“The state of the pitch was a disaster,” Emiliano Martinez, the goalkeeper for Argentina, said. “Very bumpy. We must improve in this aspect, otherwise, Copa América will always appear at a lower level than the European Championship.”

Poor optics at Copa America compared to Euro 2024

Indeed, appearances go a long way. There will always be inherent differences between the Euros and Copa America. Weaker teams at the bottom fail to draw the same quantity of neutral fans as several teams in Europe. Each tournament has top teams, but Europe has more candidates compared to the three or four that most expect to win the Copa America. The issues between the European Championship and Copa America go beyond the on-field product.

There have been a startling number of empty seats at each of the Copa America games so far. The United States Men’s National Team is playing a tournament on home soil. Yet, AT&T Stadium had empty seats dotted across the crowd. This was not an issue exclusive to Arlington, TX. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, had a quiet crowd as Venezuela played Ecuador. Uruguay and Panama played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami with the upper bowl nearly empty on Sunday night.

By comparison, Georgia and Czechia drew headlines for more than the quality of the game. Boisterous fans cheering on both nations made for an unbelievable atmosphere.

There are key explanations for why these were so different. Travel is far different for these South American nations and those in Europe. It is a four-hour flight from Tbilisi to Hamburg while Czechia borders Germany. By comparison, it is over a six-hour flight from Ecuador to the United States. It is greatly challenging to fly from Venezuela to the United States due to travel restrictions. Not only is European travel easier. It is far cheaper for fans. Additionally, Germany is much smaller than the United States, and it is relatively easier to get between stadiums for fans.

Can the Copa America ever be on the same level as the Euros?

There are too many barriers within the Americas that prevent the same kind of tournament. South America and North America are geographically so much larger than Europe. It is hard for fans to travel between countries, even when they play in South America. The 2019 Copa America had seven games with less than 20,000 spectators. The aforementioned Venezuela-Ecuador game pulled just shy of 30,000 fans.

That said, there are easy fixes. True grass venues, not grass laid on top of turf, would be hugely beneficial for the tournament and its players. Edson Alvarez picked up an injury in the win over Jamaica despite not touching an opposing player. Part of the issue came down to the pitch.

Also, Soccer United Marketing must lower the prices to make it more easily accessible for fans. Initial reports state that lower-bowl tickets for the USMNT game against Panama will cost no less than $150 per ticket. The United States regularly plays Panama in CONCACAF play, and tickets have no business being so expensive.


Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Copa games live in 2024
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer