Copa América is big; it’s even gargantuan, or so marketing teams would have you believe. Soccer supremo Lionel Messi is the poster boy. Both Brazil and Mexico add further appeal for the Centenario edition of CONMEBOL’s flagship tournament. In 1916, Uruguay won the inaugural Copa América.
So gear up for another summer of crunch games, brilliant dribbles, and wonderful strikes, all with El Tri in the fray. You can understand why soccer officials would want to bring Copa to the States: let’s disrespect history, but grab every last dollar we can. The U.S. was chosen as host, because of lucrative financial incentives: bigger revenue from TV rights, ticketing, and sponsorship deals – a dollar-generating slugfest for CONMEBOL, but in a hemisphere of soccer corruption that has somewhat backfired after the FBI and the Department of Justice got involved.
In spite of all the cash slushing around, the Copa América is still very much dwarfed by the European Championship when it comes to big bucks, highlighted by the prize money on offer. France will host an expanded version of the tournament with 24 countries playing at 10 different venues. Spain is the defending champion, but both the host and Germany are touted as favorites to win the Henri Delaunay trophy.
The winner of EURO 2016 can bank up to a staggering $30 million, a top-up of $3.9 million from the previous European Championship. Money talks – as soon as Iceland, Hungary, Albania and the other participants touch down in France they will receive $8.9 million for the mere fact of having qualified for the tournament.
In the group phase, a win brings in $1.1 million and a draw $560,000. UEFA incrementally increases the prize money per knockout phase: $1.6 million in the round of 16, $2.8 million in the quarterfinals, $4.5 million in the semis. The final is a jackpot: the winner will receive $9 million, the losing finalist $5.6 million.
In this sense, Copa América is relegated to a competition for beggars. Chicharito Hernández, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, James Rodríguez, and Alexis Sánchez will be playing for pennies. The overall prize money at Copa is $21.5 million, a pittance compared to UEFA’s total kitty of $337 million. The winner of EURO 2016 will cash in more than all Copa América participants combined. Copa América rewards only the top eight teams, with the champion taking home $6.5 million. Do the math, and you’ll find that the European Championship is worth 15 times more than Copa América! Take that!