Copa America 2024: Messi in focus as 14 US cities selected to host iconic cup

Copa America tournament will begin at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium and conclude at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium

By Web Desk
December 08, 2023
Argentina's Lionel Messi lifts the Copa America trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the final against Brazil at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 10, 2021. — AFP

The 14 cities that will host Copa América matches in 2024 have been confirmed by CONMEBOL, South America's football body, as the championship returns to the United States for the first time since 2016.

Arlington (TX), Charlotte (NC), Orlando (FL), Miami Gardens (FL), Santa Clara (CA), Atlanta (GA), East Rutherford (NJ), Houston (TX), Austin (TX), Inglewood (CA), Glendale (AZ), Kansas City (KS), and Kansas City (MO) are among the 14 cities.

The tournament will begin at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium and conclude at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium.

The event will be held outside of South America for only the second time, following the centennial Copa América in 2016.

Ecuador was initially scheduled to host the event but withdrew in November 2022 because of economic and security concerns, as well as a lack of acceptable venues.

According to reports, only the United States and Peru are interested in hosting the 2024 edition, with CONMEBOL and CONCACAF - the federations of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean - mutually selecting the United States in January of this year.

Though the United States certainly has greater stadium infrastructure than any South American country, the idea of holding the event in the United States drew significant criticism in Latin America.

“South America is having a hard time organising its historic national team tournament,” Ezequiel Fernández Moores wrote in Argentine outlet La Nación in February.

CONMEBOL has had challenges in staging the previous three Copa América tournaments in South America.

Because Brazil was already hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, the host country was shifted to Chile in 2015.

Colombia was supposed to co-host the 2020 edition with Argentina, however, it was pushed back a year because of the Covid epidemic. Protests across the country the next year forced Colombia to withdraw as a co-host, and Argentina quickly followed suit as the country battled with high Covid cases.

The competition was later relocated to Brazil, where it was contested behind closed doors.

The host country has been changed for the third time in a row, with the United States taking over organising duties from Ecuador.

However, Fernández Moores questioned why the United States is not subjected to the same scrutiny, particularly in terms of safety.

“It doesn’t matter that games can be played in California, the State that has just suffered four mass shootings in just 10 days in January,” Fernández Moores wrote.

“For the third year in a row, the United States suffered more than six hundred mass shootings in 2022. In the first three weeks of 2023, there have already been 39 shootings.

“It is unthinkable that CONMEBOL for its 2024 Copa América or FIFA for its 2026 World Cup would demand that the United States review its festival of naturalised violence, which kills in shopping malls, schools or on any street.”

However, hosting the 2024 Copa América is surely a significant boost for the United States as it prepares to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

A good tournament for the US Men's public Team might play a big part in growing public interest ahead of 2026 in a country where football is still occasionally played in the shadows of the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

According to La Nación, the 2016 edition was also a huge success, with a record average attendance of 46,000 and becoming the most profitable Copa América in history.

Coupled with Lionel Messi's entrance to Inter Miami, which has sparked international interest and increased ticket sales and attendance, the 2024 Copa América might serve as an ideal warm-up for both organisers and fans.