The CONMEBOL founder and the member associations

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The CONMEBOL (CONfederación sudaMEricana de fútBOL; South American football association) is the oldest continental football association in the world. It has been formed in July 1916, amidst the First World War. The initiator and first president of the association has been Héctor Rivadavia Gómez, a former journalist, politician, and director of the Uruguayan Football Association.

The founder

Rivadavia Gómez was a jack-of-all-trades. His first career has been in the journalist field, with being a chief at the Uruguayan newspaper “El Día”. Furthermore, he was the director of “El Telégrafo” and the founder of two other newspapers. As a politician, he started in 1908 as deputy for the Uruguayan department of Canelones. From 1923 to 1926 he even represented the capital of Montevideo. He held another position within the Uruguayan government, being in charge of the National Post Office. But the historical weight of his work doesn’t lie within the political sector. Although he only reached an age of 50 years (born in 1880, died in 1931), he created a rich legacy for all South American football fans. Apart from forming the CONMEBOL, he is also known for the creation of the South American national teams tournament that is currently named “Copa América”. One of his major later successes has been the election of Uruguay as host of the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. This love for football and lifelong dedication led to an exceptionally vibrant football ecosystem in South America. Football is by far the number one sports and hobby, practised by nearly all children, and an important part of the culture.

The beginnings

July 9, 1916, was the 100-year anniversary of the Argentine Declaration of Independence, and it couldn’t have been a better date to form the continental association among the countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Amidst the First World War, these countries met in Buenos Aires during the first South American championship (Campeonato Sudamericano), that was held between July 2 and July 17. It was the perfect time for Rivadavia Gómez to propose a national association – and he was successful!

Over the years, more and more member countries joined the association. Five years after the foundation, in 1921, Paraguay was the first addition, 1925 Peru, 1926 Bolivia, 1927 Ecuador, 1936 Colombia, and 1952 Venezuela.

The country associations

The oldest association within the CONMEBOL is the Argentinian (Asociación del Fútbol Argentino). It has been founded in 1893 and is the oldest South American football association and a FIFA member since 1912. It was the host of the already mentioned Campeonato Sudamericano in 1916 that led to the formation of the CONMEBOL.

1895 marks the year that the Chilean football association (Federación de Fútbol de Chile) has been founded. Since 1914 Chile is a full member of the FIFA. Although there have been plans to form a parallel organisation to CONMEBOL, that led to a FIFA ban in 1925. These have soon been dropped, which the result of becoming a FIFA member again in the following year.

In 1899, the Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol was formed. The names of the member clubs show the influence of the emigrants: Albion Football Club, Central Urugay Railway Cricket Club, Deutscher Fussball Klub and Uruguay Athletic Club.

Later in 1906, the Paraguayan association has been founded by the clubs Club Olimpia, Club Guaraní, Club Libertad, Club General Díaz and Club Nacional to hold the national football championship, which was held for the first time in the same year.

In 1914, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol followed suit. In 1923, it joined the FIFA. The national men’s football team under the federation, called the Seleção, is the world’s most successful national football team at World Cups, having won five titles. It is also the only national team to have participated in every World Cup final round so far.

From 1922 to 1926 the remaining associations of the other countries, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, have been founded.The Federación Peruana de Fútbol is a FIFA member since 1924. Bolivia and Ecuador both joined in 1926. Colombia took ten more years until 1936, and Venezuela is a FIFA member since 1952.

The country associations of French-Guayana, Guayana and Suriname, although geographically located in South America, are not part of the CONMEBOL, rather than the CONCACAF, which is the football association for North and Central America as well as the Caribbean countries. This is due to historical and political ties to France and the Netherlands during the colonial times.

We hope that you enjoyed learning about the history of the CONMEBOL. PayRetailers is proud to support this historical association with our Official Sponsorship of the 2021 and 2022 CONMEBOL Sudamericana™ tournaments. We are proud that we can bring fans the joy of football directly into their homes, just like our highly integrated Payment Solution that helps merchants and consumers in Latin America to settle their transactions.