Concacaf joins 2024 Copa América: How CanMNT could play Lionel Messi & Argentina

Concacaf announced on Friday that the confederation has agreed with South American governing body CONMEBOL for six of its teams to participate in the 2024 Copa América tournament, to be held in the United States.

That means that the Canadian men’s national team — if they finish among the top six sides in the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League — could find themselves playing competitive tournament matches against footballing powerhouses like Brazil or reigning World Cup champions Argentina. The opportunity to play world-class competition from outside the Concacaf region in meaningful games would serve as crucial preparation for Canada ahead of cohosting the 2026 World Cup.

As part of Concacaf’s announcement surrounding the 2024 Copa América, the confederation also revealed that four CONMEBOL women’s national teams (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay) will participate in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. Plus, the two governing bodies will establish a competition between the top four club teams (two from each region) in a “final four” style, with qualification to be determined by existing continental tournaments such as, potentially, the Concacaf Champions League and Copa Libertadores.

The upcoming Copa tournament will see 16 teams compete for one of football’s most prestigious international trophies, with the six Concacaf nations joining the 10 CONMEBOL member countries. Argentina are the current defending champions, having claimed the 2021 competition over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

This new 16-team format will be the joint-largest Copa América ever, equal with the 2016 Copa América Centenario — which was also held in the U.S., and featured six Concacaf sides. It’s not uncommon for the tournament to invite sides from other confederations to expand its pool, with Mexico competing 10 times and the likes of Qatar and Japan also participating in recent editions.

In 2024, Canada will hope to participate for the first time ever, as long as it can qualify via the Nations League. The Canadians were invited to the tournament in 2001 as reigning Gold Cup champions, though they withdrew shortly before it began.

With 2026 World Cup hosts Canada, the U.S., and Mexico all likely to play in this tournament, the three Concacaf nations will benefit from playing top-level games in this cycle in lieu of having to qualify for the World Cup.

The format for the 2024 Copa has not yet been revealed, though the 2019 tournament featured four groups of four teams each.