Categoría Primera A
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|Number of teams||18|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Categoría Primera B|
|Domestic cup(s)||Copa Colombia|
|International cup(s)||Copa Libertadores
|Current champions||Millonarios (14th title)
|Most championships||Millonarios (14 titles)|
|2013 Categoría Primera A season|
The Categoría Primera A (Spanish pronunciation: [kateɣoˈɾi.a pɾiˈmeɾa ˈa]), commonly referred to as Liga Postobón due to sponsorship by soft drink company Postobón is a Colombian professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's premier football tournament and sits at the top of the Colombian football league system. From 1990 to 2010, the league was referred to as Copa Mustang, due to a contract with Protabaco, a tobacco industry that produced Mustang cigarettes (that ended in 2010 due to an anti-tobacco law).
The league was started in 1947 by Alfonso Senior Quevedo, president of Adefútbol. Due to some political problems between 1947 and 1948, the league's first season was in 1948, and has been held yearly since. Since the 1968 season the league has used the Apertura and Clausura system, although they have only crowned a champion for each tournament since the 2002 season. In 1989, the season was cancelled mid-way through because of the assassination of a referee.
Fourteen teams have been crowned Colombian football champion. The most successful club and the current champion is Millonarios who won their 14th title.
In 1948, Dimayor was founded in Barranquilla to officially organize football. FIFA declared the Colombian league a breakaway league after a dispute with the existing amateur football authority in Colombia. Therefore, all Colombian teams were suspended from playing international football. The Colombia national football team was also under sanction. However, the sanction did not hurt the league. Due to a strike in Argentine football, the best footballers were signed in Colombia. This era was known as El Dorado and lasted until 1953, when Alfredo Di Stéfano was transferred to Spain.
During the league stage, which lasts eighteen games, each team plays against every other team once, plus an additional game against their local rival in the league. The league table is kept like a normal European league table, one point for ties and three points for a win. The top eight teams advance to the playoffs.
The finals involve two games. The team with the highest aggregate score after both home and away games wins and is crowned champion. If the game is a tie it proceeds directly to a penalty shoot-out. The away goals rule is not used.
The setup and fixtures for the Copa Mustang have been changed many times. The current system was established in 1999. Prior to this setup, many complex fixtures and stages were used. One of the worst was the 1996–1997 cup, that actually was played for 18 months, from July 1996 to December 1997. The excuse to make an exceptionally complex league has usually been an effort to spice up the tournament. Several famous Colombian coaches have expressed a dislike of the new format and several teams have been in first place throughout the entire league stage, and then not even reached the final.
Teams from 2013 season
Seasons by club
This is the complete list of the clubs that has took part of the Categoría Primera A, founded in 1948, until 2013 season. Teams who currently plays are indicated in bold.
- 77 seasons: Atlético Nacional (Atlético Municipal)
- 77 seasons: Independiente Santa Fe
- 77 seasons: Millonarios F.C.
- 74 seasons: Deportivo Cali
- 73 seasons: América de Cali
- 73 seasons: Deportes Quindío
- 73 seasons: Independiente Medellín
- 71 seasons: Once Caldas (Deportes Caldas, Deportivo Manizales, Atlético Manizales)
- 69 seasons: Deportes Tolima
- 67 seasons: Deportivo Pereira
- 63 seasons: Atlético Bucaramanga
- 63 seasons: Atlético Junior
- 61 seasons: Cúcuta Deportivo
- 51 seasons: Unión Magdalena
- 31 seasons: Envigado F.C.
- 31 seasons: Atlético Huila
- 22 seasons: Deportivo Pasto
- 20 seasons: Boyacá Chico
- 19 seasons: Real Cartagena
- 16 seasons: Cortuluá
- 13 seasons: La Equidad
- 9 seasons: Boca Juniors de Cali
- 8 seasons: Sporting Club de Barranquilla
- 5 seasons: Itagüí Ditaires
- 5 seasons: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
- 4 seasons: Once Deportivo
- 3 seasons: Huracán de Medellín
- 3 seasons: Patriotas F.C.
- 2 seasons: Centauros Villavicencio
- 2 seasons: Deportivo Samarios
- 2 seasons: Deportivo Unicosta
- 1 season: Alianza Petrolera
- 1 season: Libertad de Barranquilla
- 1 season: Oro Negro
Champions by seasons
Fourteen clubs have been the Primera A champions. Eight of those clubs have been the champion more than once. The most successful club is Millonarios with fourteen titles. Deportivo Cali, Atlético Nacional, América, and Millonarios are the only clubs that have won the title consecutively. América holds the record for the longest title streak winning five titles from 1982 to 1986. Since the start of the Apertura/Clausura championships in 2002, only Atlético Nacional in 2007 has won both championships in the same season.
Los Millonarios is the most consistent team of the long tournaments, with 13 wins out of 52 tournaments disputed from 1948 to 2001, followed by America with 11 (plus two short tournaments), while Atletico Nacional is the most consistent of the short tournaments, with 5 wins out of the 19 disputed from 2002 to date (2012-I). Out of all the six teams with just one championship, four have won their first title during the short tournament period.
The club with the longest dry spell between two titles was Once Caldas with 53 years between titles (1950 to 2003), followed by Independiente Medellin with 45 (1957 to 2002) and Independiente Santa Fe with 37 (1975 to 2012). The club with the longest continuing dry spell is Deportes Quindio, which hasn't won since 1956, followed by Union Magdalena, last championship on 1968; a noteworthy fact, in spite of being notoriously successful on the local tournament, Los Millonarios only achieved their 14th title in 2012-II, after 24 years of wait.
America de Cali has been the most successful Colombian team ever ranked, being included in the top 10 South American clubs in the 20th century; on a different note, the same team is the most successful Colombian club ever to be relegated to the second division on the local tournament; only another three clubs have been relegated after winning a championship: Deportivo Pasto, Deportes Quindio and Union Magdalena.
Out of the finalists, only three teams have never won the championship, namely La Equidad, Atletico Huila and the defunct Boca Juniors de Cali; La Equidad has been in three finals, the most of a team that has never won. Likewise, Atletico Junior participated in three finals (including the 1948 inauguration championship final) and didn't win until the fourth one in 1977, 29 years later. The longest spells for a team that never won a championship before was America de Cali, who won their first title in 1982, 32 years after their inaugural championship in 1950 and having been finalists just two times in between, Cucuta Deportivo, who waited 58 years since their first participation in 1949, and Deportes Tolima with a wait of 48 years since 1955, their first participation; Tolima was also the first team in the Colombian league to have gained a championship after winning also the second division (on non-consecutive years).
Envigado is the most consistent "mid-table" club in the league that has never reached the finals or won any championships since its first promotion from the second division in 1991; as a matter of fact, Envigado was the first team from the second division ever promoted.
The only tournament that was not awarded to a champion occurred on 1989, after the assassination of referee Álvaro Ortega on October 1, 1989 in Medellín. All games, post-season games and international representation for the following year were cancelled.
Titles by club
|Millonarios||14||1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1972, 1978, 1987, 1988, 2012–II|
|América||13||1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1996–97, 2000, 2001, 2002–I, 2008–II|
|Atlético Nacional||11||1954, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2005–I, 2007–I, 2007–II, 2011–I|
|Deportivo Cali||8||1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1995–96, 1998, 2005–II|
|Junior||7||1977, 1980, 1993, 1995, 2004–II, 2010–I, 2011–II|
|Santa Fe||7||1948, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1971, 1975, 2012–I|
|Independiente Medellín||5||1955, 1957, 2002–II, 2004–I, 2009–II|
|Once Caldas||4||1950, 2003–I, 2009–I, 2010–II|
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- Golgolgol (17/06/2009). "Senado aprueba Ley Antitabaco, que obliga al fútbol a buscar otro patrocinio" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- Caracol Radio (17/06/2009). "No habrá publicidad de cigarrillos en eventos deportivos y culturales" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2009-06-17.
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