Categoría Primera A or Liga Águila as it’s called due to the head sponsors is the top football division in Colombia, founded in 1948.
Football is the most popular sport in Colombia (according to FIFA, there are 3,043,229 players total, 291,229 of which are registered and 2,752,000 are unregistered; with 2,773 clubs and 15,800 officials). Colombian first division is the third strongest national league in South America and 9th strongest league in the world according to IFFHS. Their passion for football and evident talent in the country was on display at the recent World Cup in Brazil where Colombia made it to Quarterfinals with some great performances.
There are 20 teams playing in the league where in the first stage of the competition each team plays others once and playing a regional rival once more resulting in a total of 20 matches. The top 8 eight teams then advance to a knockout round, where they are put into four ties similarly to a quarter final of a cup competition where one tie is played home and away. The four winners then advance to the semis and then to the finals, which are also played on a home-and-away basis. The winner of the final is the tournament champion and gets a spot in the next year’s Copa Libertadores.
Number of teams: 20
Level on the pyramid: 1
Domestic cup: Copa Colombia, Superliga Colombiana
International cup: Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana
Current champions: Deportivo Cali
Transfer window: 15th December – 13th February and 19th June – 17th July
Season duration: 30th January – 20th December
Number of allowed foreign players per team: 4 registered, 3 per match squad
Average stadium attendances: 4768
Atlético Nacional and Millonarios share the title of two most prestigious teams in Primera A as they both have 14 trophies to their name. They’re closely followed by América with 13 and current champions Deportivo Cali who have won it 9 times.
The average age of players in the league is 25,9 years and a measly 12,5% of the players are registered as foreign (75 players). The most, 19, come from Argentina with 15 being from Uruguay and 14 from Paraguay. This comes down to the league’s rules as every team can register only 4 foreign players for the league matches, while only 3 are allowed per match squad.
Clubs can transfer players in two transfer windows, where the winter one lasts from 15th December to 13th February and the summer window is opened from 19th June to 17th July. The most transfers happen between the clubs in the Liga Águila with 138 players changing teams in 2014/15 in the top flight. The most popular destination for departures is the top Mexican division Liga MX, followed by the Peruvian top division Torneo Descentralizado. Six players also left for the increasingly popular USA’s MLS while 2 joined clubs from China. Argentina is the top country when it comes to players arriving from with 8 players, again followed by Mexican and Peruvian leagues with 5 both.
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