The Copa America is South America’s international championship tournament. However, since 1993, the competition has usually invited guest teams from other regions to participate. This helps with streamlining the format, with a minimum of 12 teams, allowing for more groups. The most frequent visitors over the years have been North American teams. The number of CONCACAF teams in Copa America varies from tournament to tournament, however.

CONCACAF teams in Copa America

Overall, nine different teams from outside CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, have participated in Copa América. All but two have come from CONCACAF – the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean nations. The others are Japan (2 appearances) and Qatar (1), who are both members of the Asian Football Confederation, AFC.

Mexico (11 appearances), the United States (5), Costa Rica (5), Jamaica (3), Panama (2), Haiti (1), and Honduras (1) are the seven CONCACAF sides that have played in Copa América. El Tri has played in every Copa América since 1993 except for the 2019 and 2021 tournaments.

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Other nations, such as Australia, Spain, China, and Canada have been invited over the years but declined or withdrew for various reasons.

Since 1993, the tournament’s standard number of total teams has been 12. That’s the 10 CONMEBOL sides plus 2 guest teams. This makes for an easy three-groups-of-four format. However, there have been three exceptions to this format.

In 2021, due to repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, only the 10 members of CONMEBOL competed. In 2016, and the upcoming 2024 tournament, both hosted in the USA, the format features 16 teams. All 6 guest teams are from CONCACAF. Unlike 2016 where they were automatic entrants, however, both Mexico and the US had to qualify for 2024.

In addition to appearing in more than twice as many Copa América tournaments as any other guest nation, Mexico is also the most successful.

They have finished third three times, and runner-up twice. They are the only guest nation to have appeared in a Copa América final.

2026 CONCACAF teams in Copa America

So with six slots up for grabs for the upcoming tournament, here’s how things stand so far for the Northern half of the Americas.

Due to their finish in the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League, Mexico, the USA, Jamaica and Panama have all qualified. The final two spots will be decided via a playoff next March 23.

Canada will play Trinidad & Tobago, while Costa Rica will battle Honduras, in winner-takes-all play-in games. These matches will both take place as a doubleheader at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (home of FC Dallas and the National Soccer Hall of Fame).

Copa América 2024 kicks off on Thursday, June 20 with reigning Champions Argentina playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago in Atlanta. This happens to be the longest day of the year. And with the way Argentina is playing, it could be an especially long day for whoever their CONCACAF opposition ends up being.

Photos: Imago.

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
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