The 2016 edition of the Copa America is a tournament of firsts. The first time ever it is experiencing a centenary year, first time it is being played outside of South America, the first time it is being played in the USA and the first time the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of the competition will get to experience the sights and sounds of what America has to offer.
While the NFL is on its summer break – their stadiums will be getting spicy hot. Passion for the game is unparalleled across Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia and the entire continent. Not only is bragging rights for the region on offer, but the chance to represent the Americas at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, 12 months prior to the World Cup.
Throw in the likes of Mexico, Costa Rica and the red, white and blue, all of a sudden team USA can get a tangible feeling for what it is to host such a grand occasion for the first time since 1994 when they hosted the World Cup. Who knows if or when the Copa will be back on United States soil? So soak it up.
Criticize soccer players all you want for being pampered, overpaid prima donnas who fall on the ground at the smallest hint of contact. The fact of the matter remains that they play the biggest sport in the world on huge salaries in front of fanatical packed crowds – and that’s just covering their profession.
These WAGs should feel right at home on the California beaches, even putting some of the regular models, actresses and R&B singers to shame with their unique style and laissez-faire attitude to fame and fortune. TMZ and the Hollywood complex don’t jade the Copa ladies – they live their life in the manner their partners play their football, defined by swagger and expression of the heart.
Without any further ado, these are the 19 hottest WAGs turning up to the 2016 Copa America right here in the US of A.
18 Anna Mariana Casemiro (Casemiro)
Fresh off starring for Real Madrid to help the giant Spanish club to their 11th Champions League title, Brazilian midfielder Casemiro has truly found his feet making the difficult transition from promising South American to established European in the space of a few years. He tied the knot during the 2014 World Cup, a tournament which he just missed out on making the Brazilian National Team, to Anna Mariana Ortega, a makeup artist and popular social media starlet. Anna Mariana Casemiro now follows her man wherever she goes, even getting pitch side at the San Siro in Milan to witness her hubby lifting the coveted European Cup in May.
17 Sofia Balbi (Luis Suarez)
A global soccer phenomenon who outshined Lionel Messi and Neymar in a Barcelona shirt would seemingly have the world at his feet. Uruguay striker Luis Suarez missed Uruguay's first encounter with Mexico due to injury, but the controversial forward will be expected to spearhead the country deep into the tournament. With all the talk and furor surrounding the player, it contradicts his otherwise normal, humble existence off the pitch, marrying his beloved Sofia Baldi, 26, from Uruguay and having two children together. The gorgeous blonde has a tough time dealing with biting and racism scandals, but her native country is relying on her to keep his eyes on the prize.
16 Abra House (Graham Zusi)
Far from the glitz and glamor that comes about with the European-based soccer stars across the pond, MLS stalwart Graham Zusi has shacked up with the cute-girl-from-next-door Abra House. The brunette largely keeps to herself, so don’t expect the school teacher to be strutting down the red carpet anytime soon. House and Zusi have been an item for a few years and much like her Sporting Kansas City partner, she is just happy to be there and contribute where necessary.
15 Chiara Picone (Javier Pastore)
Argentina is blessed with talent and beauty in equal measure. PSG attacking midfield maestro Javier Pastore will struggle to even get on the pitch for his country at the Copa as he competes with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Ever Banega and Erik Lamela – illustrating the depth and talent on measure for the 2014 World Cup Finalists. But one place he won’t have to compete is for the heart of partner Chiara Picone, as the couple have shared a loving relationship for a number of years, even prior to his big money move to Paris from Italian football.
14 Jaydy Michel (Rafa Marquez)
At 37 years of age, Rafa Marquez was expected to be put out to pasture long ago. But the veteran Mexico defender and inspirational captain has revived his career in Atlas after a poor spell in the MLS and put all the haters on notice by scoring his country’s third and decisive goal against Uruguay in their opening game in Arizona. Someone who never doubted Marquez is wife Jaydy Michel. The pair tied the knot some five years ago and the Mexican actress is now pregnant with the couple’s child.
13 Carla Pardo (Claudio Bravo)
Life on the field can be frustrating at times for Claudio Bravo. Being the goalkeeper for Barcelona can require long stretches of play without having any sort of influence and the Chile shot stopper has had to play second fiddle in the UEFA Champions League. Yet he does have the honor of captaining the defending champions (Chile) and he is always first choice for wife Carla Pardo, a childhood sweetheart and mother of his children. Whether it’s coming out to prevent crosses, parrying away attempts on goal or changing dippers – Claudio is going to be a busy man over the next couple of months.
13. Daniela Ospina (James Rodriguez)
With a name not too dissimilar too his teammate and goalkeeper David Ospina, Colombian captain and star Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez probably doesn’t have too hard a time differentiating between his friend between the sticks and his gorgeous partner Daniela Ospina. If Daniela’s Instagram account is any guide, the stunning brunette has taken to life in the USA like a duck to water, popping up on the beaches and a Golden State Warriors Finals game while her hubby inspired Colombia to a 2-0 win over the hosts in Santa Clara. Speculation continues to link James with a move away from Spain and depending how much money is on offer, Rodriguez might one day pop up in a Galaxy shirt. The couple look picture perfect and made for Hollywood.
12 Maria Teresa Matus (Arturo Vidal)
Arturo Vidal can’t help but stand out on a football pitch. The tattoos, the Mohawk haircut, the box-to-box running, the tackles, the goals, the trophies – the Chilean midfielder is all action all the time. It’s any wonder the Bayern Munich starlet has time to start a family and settle down, but he’s done well with the sexy blonde Maria Teresa Matus. The couple are parents to little Alonso and if he can harness the ball skills of dad Arturo and being comfortable in front of a camera like mom Maria, the kid will be a superstar in the making.
11 Bethany Dempsey (Clint Dempsey)
Clint Dempsey is the heart and soul of the American soccer team. The 33-year old Seattle forward has been part of the national set up since 2004, taking part in three World Cups and two generations of rosters that have evolved since he donned a USA shirt. A constant in his life has been longtime partner Bethany Dempsey, with the couple meeting in College and immediately hitting it off. The married duo have enjoyed the spotlight together being big fish in the MLS pond and Bethany’s beauty really came to the public’s conscious when she posed for Sports Illustrated in 2010. US Soccer never looked so hot.
10 Yanina Screpante (Ezequiel Lavezzi)
Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi won’t have anyone pulling out a violin if he complains about a lack of game time this Copa America. The explosive winger was snatched from the already wealthy PSG in France to go to the aptly named Hebei China Fortune in Asia, where he is pocketing a reported $14.5 million a year for two years. Although he is away from the spotlight, his reputation and past deeds have given him a berth to Argentina's Copa America squad and he has brought along the cute Yanina Screpante for company. Not an ultra famous extrovert by any stretch of the imagination, but looks amazing in a bikini.
9 Antonella Roccuzzo (Lionel Messi)
Living with the most famous athlete on the planet must be an unusual feeling at times. For all the love and adulation Lionel Messi receives around the world, Antonella Roccuzzo is one of the few people who knows the real Lionel intimately. The couple have come through a lot together, having a baby boy and experiencing the highs and lows of seeing her man captain Argentina – a nation that demands so much of the Barcelona star. Many still think he is a shadow of Diego Maradona for failing to win the World Cup, even after leading them to the Final in 2014. There’s just no pleasing some people.
8 Lucia Villalon (Javier Hernandez)
Don’t be shocked if Mexico go on to win the Copa America in 2016. Close to home, brimming with talent and spurred on by playing in a country where one of their presidential candidates wants them all deported – the nearby neighbors are primed to go the distance this summer. The star man at the top of the tree will be German-based striker and former Manchester United player Javier Hernandez. He’s rediscovered his scoring verve in the Bundesliga and with the gorgeous Lucia Villalon by his side, he could accomplish anything. The beautiful television presenter is rumored to be getting married after the tournament to ‘Chicharito.’
7 Carol Cabrino (Marquinhos)
Hooking up with a pop star, fitness enthusiast and model sounds like one hell of a weekend – but not as much when they happen to be the one person. Brazilian defender Marquinhos is one of the hottest properties in European football, outperforming high earners in Paris as clubs from around England and Spain line up their checkbooks to make him a global star. His partner’s music career isn’t quite in the same level, yet Carol Cabrino still looks to be living the life of the rich and famous regardless of record sales and iTunes downloads.
6 Joana Sanz (Dani Alves)
Dani Alves had enough. Enough of winning the La Liga title, the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish Cup and living in one of the most sort after locations on the planet in Barcelona. Life had become stale, and he wanted to take his Spanish model girlfriend Joana Sanz with him for a new challenge in Italy with Juventus. Dani is captaining Brazil at the Copa and after their dull 0-0 opening game with Ecuador at the Rose Bowl, he might need Joana to entertain him. Such was the lack of excitement in California, Neymar and Justin Bieber stole the cameraman’s attention with their selfie in the grandstand. Poor form Brazil, we expect better.
5 Karin Jimenez (Santiago Arias)
Colombian fullback Santiago Arias won’t be playing his football in Holland for much longer. Although he is winning most titles domestically with PSV, the right back is an emerging star at 24 and is expected to land at one of the big leagues sooner rather than later. Going under the radar isn’t something his partner Karin Jimenez will want to endure either, with the stunning model setting pulses racing on photo shoots and regular Instagram posts to her 161,000 followers and counting. Nothing against Eindhoven, but this couple look destined for a bigger stage.
4 Eugenia Lusardo (Marcos Rojo)
Manchester United and Argentina defender Marcos Rojo isn’t a man loved by most neutrals. It’s not just the bad boy image with the tattoos and physical play, it’s the desire to rub the opposition up the wrong way whenever the chance presents itself. That will be an attribute surely loved by his new manager at Old Trafford in Jose Mourinho and it is also something that hasn’t deterred Eugenia Lusardo away from her gaze. The magazine model’s personal affairs became public when an alleged rendezvous with a fitness instructor with Rojo leaked out, but as things stand they’re still an item.
3 Jessica Sterling (David Ospina)
Since Petr Cech’s introduction at Arsenal last season, David Ospina has wanted to give life in the English Premier League away. The Colombia number one is rock solid between the posts for his country and if they are to go deep at the Copa, Ospina will have to be in red hot form. His wife and mother of his children Jessica Sterling never has a problem being red hot, with the model and actress following David around the world to help him pursue his soccer dreams.
2 Alondra Garcia Miro (Paolo Guerrero)
Backing Peru to do anything at the Copa is a fool's errand but tracking Paolo Guerrero’s life off the pitch? Well that’s a different case altogether. The 32-year old striker based in Brazil with club Flamengo started off his soccer career in Germany where he learned the skills of the sport in a country that masters the basics. Yet ultimately home is where the heart is and fellow South American Alondra Garcia Miro shows why the continent is known for its samba flair and exotic beauties.
1 Irene Martinez (Hector Moreno)
At 28 years old, the big move might be off the cards for the PSV Eindhoven defender. In Mexico’s eyes, he is the backbone of the side and regardless of how far they go in Copa 2016, he’ll have Irene Martinez to go home to. The cute, diligent, private partner of Hector keeps a lock on her social media comings and goings, illustrating that even the hottest can be modest. Win, lose or draw, Irene Martinez will be screaming and dancing in her green kit.