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The Copa America Centenario Was The Best Bad Tournament Of All Time

In many ways, the Copa America Centenario resembled an A-Plus B-movie; an event so bizarre that it couldn’t help but capture the imagination. 

From Brazil’s decision to essentially forfeit before the matches had even kicked off, to the final drama of Lionel Messi retiring from international football after missing a decisive penalty kick, the 2016 Copa America was camp to the extreme — it had a certain self-acknowledged theatricality.

The 2016 Copa America was like the 1997 film Anaconda. Ultimately, was it really necessary? With the previous edition coming only the summer before in Chile, the 2016 affair was always going to feel lacking in legitimacy. 

However, much like Anaconda made $136.8 million off of a $45 million budget, this Copa America was a smashing success. 1.5 million fans attended the 32 matches, including over 82,000 at the final. Over 100 million spectators tuned into FOX and Univision to watch, and over 3.5 millions fans engaged with the tournament through social media. 

Forbes Copa America numbers

The Copa America was a success, like Anaconda before it. Photo: @AllAboutThe216 | Twitter

Anaconda brought the star power with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Owen Wilson; this Copa America gave us an intimate look at Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, and James Rodriguez. 

Sure, Luis Suarez resembled Jon Voight’s Golden Raspberry nominated role in the film as psychotic Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Serone, but that only added to the legend of this cult classic tournament. His tantrum was so-bad-it’s-unmissable. 

The record-breaking giant anaconda of the film was ridiculously large, coming in at around 30 feet. This tournament’s size, with the inclusion of CONCACAF nations and matches spread around the vast American landscape, was equally as derisible. 

The CONCACAF nations ended the tournament with a collective goal difference of negative 29. Negative 29. Yet, much like watching a giant snake crush Owen Wilson to death and eating him, it was enjoyable watching Mexico and the USA get utterly annihilated by the likes of Chile and Argentina.


Critics do well to point out the swaths of empty seats at many matches (the result of ridiculous ticket prices) just like critics of Anaconda criticized the film’s awful special effects. 

However, Anaconda gave us the unforgettable scenes of a snake attacking a riverboat, and Jennifer Lopez being covered in a bucket of monkey blood for live bait.

The Copa America Centenario gave us unforgettable goals from Lionel Messi, Mexico’s Jesus Corona and Bolivia’s Jhasmani Campos

We can only hope that, like 2004’s Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, we get to do it all again soon.  

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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