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The Copa Sudamericana, officially Copa Sudamericana de Clubes, also known as Copa Nissan Sudamericana for sponsorship reasons, is an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 2002. It is the second most important competition in South American club football. Despite being a organized by CONMEBOL, they invited Mexican teams between 2005 and 2008. It can be said that the Copa Sudamericana is an equivalent of sorts to the now-defunct Copa Conmebol with the exception that some top teams can play both in this tournament and in the Copa Libertadores. The winner faces the Copa Libertadores' champion the following year in the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tournament's format has changed since it started but the current format includes five rounds or stages. Each round consists of two-legged ties with the defending champion getting a bye to the round of 16. The tournament has been won by 6 different teams and played 7 times. The tournament has been won by Argentine clubs 4 times and once by a Peruvian, Brazilian, and Mexican club. Boca Juniors is the only team to have defended the title. The current champion is Sport Club Internacional of Brazil.


In 1992, the Copa CONMEBOL became South America's first secondary international tournament. This tournament was discontinued in 1999 and replaced by the Copa Merconorte and Copa Mercosur. These tournaments started in 1998 and discontinued in 2001. A Pan-American club cup competition was intended, under the name of Copa Pan-Americana, but instead, the Copa Sudamericana was introduced in 2002.

In 2003, the Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan Motors started sponsoring the tournament. Thus, the competition has since been officially called Copa Nissan Sudamericana, much in the style of the Copa Libertadores branding as Copa Toyota Libertadores. Also, Brazilianmarker teams participated for the first time, after refusing to play in the first edition due to scheduling conflicts with the Campeonato Brasileiro.

In 2005, D.C. United of the Major League Soccer, Club América and UNAM from Mexico accepted invitations to play in the tournament. The only South American club competition in which teams from the United States had played before was the rather minor Copa Merconorte, while Mexican teams had already participated in the Copa Libertadores since 1998.

The tournament has been won 4 times by Argentine clubs. The first edition was won by San Lorenzo de Almagro. The second edition was won by Cienciano, the first Peruvian team to win an international title. The two following editions were won by Boca Juniors. C.F. Pachuca won Mexico's first international title in a South American competition. Arsenal won the 2007 edition and won its first major trophy and international title. In December 2008, Inter became the first Brazilian team to win the cup, after an unbeaten campaign that includes eliminating their archrivals Grêmio, defeating Boca Juniors at the opponent's own ground, La Bomboneramarker, then beating Estudiantes in the final.


Each national association is assigned a number of entries, usually determined by its league's strength, and decides on its own selection criteria to fill those spots. These can include: direct invitation; performance over the first semester of the year; best teams from previous season that did not qualify for the Copa Libertadores (similar to UEFA Cup entries); a qualifying tournament previous to the competition, etc. The tournament itself is played in two-legged knockout stages (there have also been cases of 3-team groups, with each team playing one home and one away game). In the first rounds of the competition the teams from the same country play against each other.

The format of the tournament has changed year after year. The current format includes a Preliminary Round, the First Round, and a knockout bracket starting from the Round of 16. 8 teams contest the Preliminary Round with 4 proceeding to the First Round. 28 teams contest the First Round and 14 qualify for the Round of 16. The invitees Boca Juniors and River Plate are directly seeded in the Round of 16. The final has the same rules as the Copa Libertadores; no away goals rule and extra time will be played if the finalists are tied on goals.


The media has brought up allegations of gerrymandering involving the set up and automatic invitations of Buenos Aires based clubs Boca Juniors and River Plate onto the second round in each tournament. In the Copa Libertadores, Brazil and Argentina have more representatives than the other countries. Their fate is decided on merit; theoretically they could all be eliminated in the group phase, and there is no pre-organisation of the clashes in the knock-out rounds, which depend on results in the group games. In contrast the Copa Sudamericana is set up in such a way that in the second round all eight ties are guaranteed to feature a team from either Brazil or Argentina diminishing the tournaments credibility. An adjustment in format, starting in 2010, will see an end of automatic qualification for Boca Juniors and River Plate, and one more bid for every country except Brazil and Argentina. Teams from CONCACAF will no longer be invited, starting in 2009.

Some critics also suggest that the Copa Sudamericana is made for TV competition to fill a hole in the second half of the year. Others suggest that both the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana are played at different times of the year so the Argentinian teams River Plate and Boca Juniors can play both tournaments.

The Brazilians usually enter with reserve sides. In 2008, clubs like Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and Gremio played with reserves. Even Internacional played the early rounds with reserves, and then picked the first team when they had a chance of winning. The Copa Sudamericana comes at a decisive stage of the Brasileiro, and clubs can't afford to hurt their chances at the expense of international recognition. Even teams who face possible relegation decided to reserve their starters for league play, such was the case with Atlético Paranaense. Boca Juniors along with River Plate are unfairly granted automatic entry into the round of 16 stage irrespective of their league position. They also took the competition as a second priority in 2008. Boca fielded alternative sides in the team's four Copa matches.


Season Champion Score Runner-up Venue
San Lorenzo 4–0 Atlético Nacional Estadio Atanasio Girardotmarker
0–0 Estadio Pedro Bidegainmarker
San Lorenzo won 4–0 on aggregate
Cienciano 3–3 River Plate Estadio Antonio V.marker Libertimarker
1–0 Estadio UNSAmarker
Cienciano won 4–3 on aggregate
Boca Juniors 0–1 Bolívar Estadio Hernando Silesmarker
2–0 Estadio Alberto J.marker Armandomarker
Boca Juniors won 2–1 on aggregate
Boca Juniors 1–1 Universidad Nacional Estadio Olímpico Universitariomarker
1–1 * Estadio Alberto J.marker Armandomarker
2–2 on points, aggregate 2–2, Boca Juniors won 4-3 in a penalty shootout
Pachuca 1–1 Colo-Colo Estadio Hidalgomarker
2–1 Estadio Nacionalmarker
Pachuca won 4–1 on points
Arsenal 3–2 América Estadio Aztecamarker
1–2 Estadio Juan D. Perón
3–3 on points, aggregate 4–4, Arsenal won on away goals
Internacional 1–0 Estudiantes Estadio Ciudad de La Platamarker
1–1 † Estádio Beira-Riomarker
Internacional won 4–1 on points
LDU Quito 5–1 Fluminense Estadio Casa Blancamarker
Estádio Mário Filho marker
To be played

Winner won after extra time
* Winner won by a penalty shootout after extra time


By club

Team Winners Runners-Up Years Won Years Runner-Up
Boca Juniors 2 0 2004 and 2005
San Lorenzo 1 0 2002
Cienciano 1 0 2003
Pachuca 1 0 2006
Arsenal 1 0 2007
Internacional 1 0 2008

By country

Nation Winners Runners-up
4 2
1 2
1 0
1 0
0 1
0 1
0 1

Top scorers by year

Year Player Club Goals
2002 Rodrigo Astudillo
Gonzalo Galindo
Pierre Webó

San Lorenzo de Almagro

2003 Germán Carty Cienciano 6
2004 Horacio Chiorazzo Bolívar 5
2005 Bruno Marioni UNAMmarker 7
2006 Humberto Suazo Colo-Colo 10
2007 Ricardo Ciciliano Millonarios 6
2008 Alex

Media coverage

See also


  2. Diario On Line "Edición Nacional"
  3. "Breve historia de la Copa Sudamericana"
  4. Información sobre la Copa Conmebol
  5. Globo Esporte
  6. "¡Internacional brillante campeón de la Copa Nissan Sudamericana!",, 04/12/2008
  9. Sudamericana in need of a rewrite

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