This is South America’s equivalent of the Europa League (ex UEFA Cup). It is the second most important South American club competition. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure of the qualifying criteria and it varies from country to country. Basically, each country sends the its best teams after those that qualified for the Copa Libertadores.
I don’t think that a team can play in the Copa Sudamericana and the Libertadores. Although back when I initially wrote this in 2011, Independiente from Argentina played in both competitions. The rules and structure of this competition seem to be constantly evolving. As it stands, the winner of the competition qualifies for the next year’s Copa Libertadores.
The competition used to run from July to December each year. It started in April this year and the dates of the final don’t seem to be in the diary.
For the latest results and fixtures, check out the dedicated Sul-Americana page.