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Copa America Femenina: Spots up for Grabs in Latin America for the Women’s 2019 FIFA World Cup

Only three teams will qualify to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and only one to the Tokyo Olympics Football Tournament. Who will go on from South America?

Every four years, ten South American nations compete in the crucial qualifiers that decide destiny and partaking for upcoming tournaments - the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Olympics, and Panamerican Games. April 4th marked the start of the western hemisphere’s most important women's soccer tournament, the Copa America. I had the opportunity to represent Colombia in the 2014 edition that was hosted in Ecuador, where we earned second place and qualified for all three of the other major international tournaments.

“The most shocking knockout, in my opinion, was Venezuela...I was hoping to see Deyna, a Best Women's FIFA player nominee, as well as a top player at Florida State University, compete in the globe’s biggest soccer stage.”

The champion will be the only nation to automatically qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The runners-up will rsvp to the World Cup but will have to face-off against the second-place of the African Olympic qualifiers in an additional playoff round for a chance to Olympic qualification. Meanwhile, the third place finisher of the Copa America will have a playoff go at the third-placed CONCACAF qualifier team for a World Cup spot while fourth place will be doomed with no World Cup possibility. Additionally, both third and fourth place teams will play in the 2019 Panamerican Games to be hosted in Lima. Going into the final stage, the four teams have high expectations to win the first game which is by far the most important because each team will only have three games to deem destiny. It is vital to kick-off this stage with a big win to both set the course and accrue goals in case there is a head-to-head that would be determined by goal difference.

Now, with Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Peru knocked out of the tournament; the stake is up for grabs for Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. The premature knockout of Ecuador depicts the lack of development of Ecuadorian women's soccer since their first World Cup stage appearance in 2015. I spoke with Ecuadorian international Giannina Lattanzio and asked her opinion on the country’s progress in terms of soccer development after competing in the #FIFA World Cup. She stated, “After the World Cup we saw a huge increase of female participation in the sport! However, we have lacked representation and support. The majority of us players are not professionals and we only compete for short periods of time.” Just four years ago, they won the 3rd place slot of the Copa America tournament and later beat Trinidad and Tobago in the playoff round to qualify for the World Cup. Unfortunately, Ecuador having being eliminated in the early stages will see little hope of any near future women's soccer action, or upcoming high level FIFA appearances.