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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Copa America UF brings soccer and culture to the playing field

Nations collided on Hume Field on Sunday as students competed for a gold-colored cup and the right to be called champion of the Americas.

More than 200 participants represented 18 different countries in Copa America UF, an annual soccer tournament presented by Hispanic Heritage Month 2007 and FOX Sports en Español.

Players settled their nations' rivalries by squaring off on the soccer field throughout the day. Most contenders played for the nations of their heritage, but it was not a requirement.

Mexico won the tournament, beating Guatemala 4-3, but the event was as much cultural as it was competitive.

Melissa Nobles, the director of Copa America UF, said this year's tournament pulled in record numbers of participants from diverse backgrounds.

Non-Hispanic countries including the United States, Haiti and Suriname also participated.

"This is not just a Hispanic event," she said. "Soccer relates to all cultures."

Nobles said the event's slogan, "Different Roots, Same Passion," represents this diversity.

"It's about individuals celebrating their culture," she said. "Through soccer, we can share and celebrate."

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