CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, only has 10 member nations. This makes it somewhat awkward to organize a tournament, which has led them to invite teams from outside the continent in order to make up the numbers for Copa America.
The other continental tournaments do not bring in guest teams, but it is now the norm for the Copa América. There are only 10 members in Conmebol, the South American football federation, so they have welcomed two guests since the 1993 tournament onwards.
This has been common practise since 1993, when Mexico and the United States took part in the championship held in Ecuador.
Mexico actually played in every Copa from 1993-2016, even reaching the final on two occasions.
While other CONCACAF nations such as Costa Rica and Jamaica have taken part over the years
CONMEBOL have also extended invitations westward. Japan were the first Asian team to take part, participating in the 1999 edition.
Australia and Qatar have already accepted invitations to the 2020 edition.
Having been played in various formats through the years, it was decided to add two guest nations for the 1993 tournament onwards.
No invitational team has progressed from the group stage of the Copa America since 2007
CONMEBOL intended to have 16 teams in this year’s championship and invite some of Europe’s top nations to take part but,
That plan was disrupted due to Schedule clashes with the Gold Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations and those European tournaments meant that Asia was the only place to go for guests that could send their best teams
The guests are generally only expected to pad out the schedule, bring along their TV money and viewing figures, then make a swift exit before the real action begins in the later rounds.
USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica have all made up the numbers at the Copa América
Mexico took part in 10 straight tournaments from 1993 until the Copa América Centenario in 2016.
The USA also made their debut in 1993, taking the opportunity to test themselves in a competitive environment before they hosted the World Cup the following summer.
They didn’t win a single game in 1993, but came back stronger two years later and reached the quarter-finals, where they faced their great rivals Mexico.
The United States is the only Non-CONMEBOL country to host, having hosted the event in 2016.
Costa Rica, made the first of their guest appearances in 1997 to little acclaim, with Jamaica doing likewise in 2015.
The horizons were expanded in a different direction in 1999 when Japan was invited, becoming the first non-American team to participate.
Nine different nations have received invitations for Copa:
Costa Rica (1997, 2001, 2004, 2011, 2016), Honduras (2001), Japan (1999, 2019), Jamaica (2015, 2016), Mexico(1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016), Haiti (2016), Panama (2016), the United States (1993, 1995, 2007, 2016), Qatar (2019, 2020) and Australia (2020).