Inter Miami and Lionel Messi will be aiming for further titles in 2024 when a historic tournament is set to return. After winning the Leagues Cup, Inter Miami has qualified for the 2024 Interamerican Cup, a competition rich in history. But what is it, when is it, and who is going to face Inter Miami in the competition?

After a 26-year hiatus, the Copa Interamericana (also known as the Interamerican Cup) looks likely to be played in 2024 after a hiatus, and it will likely include a number of high-profile teams and players.

First, the history of Copa Interamericana

The first Copa Interamericana was played in 1969 and lasted until 1998. It included the champions of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Copa Libertadores. It was a two-on-two confrontation. However, this was not always the case.

It’s important to note that the rules and structure of the tournament have evolved over time. There were years when the tournament didn’t happen at all, others when it was played as a series of one-offs, and a number of times when teams who hadn’t met the initial qualification standards participated.

In 1998, this tournament was discontinued since teams from both federations were competing in continental tournaments hosted by the other. This was especially true for Mexican clubs, who were invited to compete in the Copa Libertadores.

Fortunately, it seems to be making a comeback, although in a revamped and extended version, and Lionel Messi may be at the center of it all. The tournament was really brought back in January 2023, six months before the World Cup champion joined with Miami.

2024 Copa Interamericana: Date, location and participants

For the first time in its history, the Copa Interamericana will be a four-club competition to determine the greatest team in the Americas throughout the last calendar year. While the competition has yet to be officially announced, this new event is likely to begin as soon as next year. Reportedly, CONMEBOL officials will make a statement about the competition in the coming days.

Following the absence of Mexican clubs from international club competition since their participation in the 2016 Copa Libertadores, this will mark their return after an absence of eight years. After taking home the championship for the first time in the previous season, D.C. United are the current champions.

In a ‘final four’ type tournament, the champions of the major CONCACAF (Champions League, Leagues Cup) and CONMEBOL (Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana) events will face off against one another in the 2024 edition. Thus, Club Leon, Inter Miami, Fluminense, and LDU Quito will all likely be in attendance.

The Herons, coached by Gerardo “Tata” Martino will meet the champions of the Copa Libertadores, Fluminense, in one of the Semi-Finals. In the other matchup, Leon of Liga MX, champions of the CONCACAF Champions League, will meet Liga de Quito, winners of Ecuador’s Copa Sudamericana.

The tournament’s lack of set dates hasn’t dampened fans’ enthusiasm, either. There has been no word on the location, but maybe that will change before the new year begins.

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Previous winners

There have been 13 different winning clubs in the 19-year history of the Copa Interamericana.

Only Argentina’s Independiente have won three championships; Nacional of Uruguay, Club America of Mexico, Atletico Nacional of Colombia, and Olimpia of Paraguay have won two apiece.

Only four teams from North America have ever won this championship, whereas fifteen teams from South America have taken home the hardware. D.C. United is the only American team to have ever won the championship, doing so in the tournament’s last year (1998). Ironically, the final leg of that last Copa Interamericana was played at Lockhart Stadium, the site of which is where Messi’s Inter Miami now calls home.

Surprisingly, an Argentine team has won the tournament a whopping seven times, while no Brazilian club has ever taken home the trophy. In reality, just one Brazilian club—Vasco da Gama—ever made it to the championship game, and that was back in 1998. One reason for this is because Brazilian clubs stayed away in 1993 and 1995.

Inter Miami in Copa Interamericana? Tata Martino’s opinions

Tata Martino, coach of Inter Miami, told media this week that preseason training would resume on January 10. This means that Lionel Messi and the rest of the squad will have a little rest before getting ready for next year.

The Herons’ last competitive game was on October 21 against Charlotte, which they lost 1-0. As a result, the Argentine boss also said that the team was considering scheduling some preseason friendly in other countries.

Since Inter Miami failed to make the MLS playoffs, the club had planned to play two exhibition games in China after the regular season ended. However, the trip was called off last week, causing the team to schedule an exhibition against New York City FC for this Friday.

In addition, the rebirth of the Copa Interamericana has been called into question by Tata Martino, who says that the schedule is already too packed.

“I think it’s a desire from lots of people, but you can’t even think where it could be placed [on 2024’s schedule]. It sounds lovely but with so many competitions it’s hard to see when it could be played,” he said.

Photo: Imago and IMAGO / Pressinphoto.