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Author Topic: Can someone explain Latin American football to me?
Antonio Gramsci
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OK, so in a number of countries (Mexico, Argentina...any others?), there are "apertura" and "clausura" tournaments.

But how does one qualify for the continental tournaments? Do you get to the Libertadores by doing well in the apertura or the clausura - or is it some type of two-season, total point deal? What about the Copa Sudamericana?

Why are the two tournaments held at different times of the year? Can a team end up in both tournaments in the same year?

Answers greatly appreciated.

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Inca
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Wikipedia actually has some decent information on this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copa_Libertadores_de_Am%C3%A9rica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copa_Libertadores_2008
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copa_Sudamericana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copa_Sudamericana_2008

Don't know why the scheduling is how it is. The qualification is squirrelly with some countries having a team qualify from a tournament (Mexico's InterLiga; Brazil's Copa do Brasil) in addition to league winners.

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Rogin the Armchair fan
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Have you never seen a Latin American general's chest? It's all about the medals. They love medals, your latin Americans. love them. Why have one championship a year, when you can have several? Not for them this North American nonsense of having one, single, all-encompassing World Champions of the Universe every year. No, in Latin America there are plenty of trophies to go around, and if the coach is clever enough, he'll make damned sure the one his team wins was viewed by his fans as the most important one all along, like Rafa Benitez and the European Cup.
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ursus arctos
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Rogin has identified the essential "reason", but it can also be seen as a formalization of the "winter/autumn champion" title the Continental media like to award after the completion of the first round of matches. I also think that the significant attention given to the pre-season "summer/new year" tournaments (played in January and early February) have had an impact (at least in Argentina).

Qualification for continental tournaments and relegation are the primary complications. Argentina is trying to address the "time lag" issues in the first regard, and uses a rather opaque system that averages points over a multi-year period for the latter.

The J League originally had a similar system, with the winners of the two halves playing for the title in a grand final. I think that one of the reasons that they abandoned that was that there was more than one occasion on which the same team won both halves.

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Rogin the Armchair fan
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Argentina, although quite forward-looking in having relegation to begin with (it took Brazil decades to accept any such concept), hurriedly introduced the "average points" relegation rule in the middle of one season when it looked like one of the big two (Boca or River Plate, I forget which) were in trouble.
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SamLKelly
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Rogin - it was Racing. And whilst I agree with the general point about wanting loads of medals to hand out, it does strike me that if that were the sole cause, Brazil wouldn't be the only country in South America to have a knockout cup competition.

Antonio, each country has their own way of deciding which teams they send to the Copas, but in Argentina at least, it works thus: the two champions (Apertura and Clausura), and then the top three sides not including those champions from a season-long league table that is used for no other purpose than to decide the participants in the Copa. Those go to the Libertadores (or the qualifying round for it), and the fourth-best-but-not-counting-champions team also go to the Copa Sudamericana.

I think that's how it works, anyway. To be honest I just copy the stuff from the local media onto my site, and hope no-one asks. One complication is that Boca Juniors and River Plate are 'invited' by CONMEBOL to take part in the Sudamericana (not the Libertadores) every season, regardless of how they've done in the league.

Another complication is that, of course, teams qualify for the following season's Libertadores, which in the case of the Apertura champions will kick off 13 1/2 months after they won the championship to qualify for it. So Estudiantes de La Plata are in this season's competition due to having won the Apertura in December 2006, and it's pure coincidence that the reigning champions of Argentina, Lanús, also happened to qualify for this year's Copa by virtue of an impressive season in 2006-2007.

Argentina is going to be solving this problem soon by moving to a Brazil-style season-long championship, played from around February until November / December. That's if you listen to some rumours from people-who-know-people in the media, anyway. The Copa qualifiers are being rejigged this year so that (I THINK) the winners of the 2008 Apertura will go into the 2009 Libertadores (only a month and a bit later), which seems to pave the way for a switch to a year-long championship in either 2009 or 2010.

This is conjecture for now, but it'll be interesting to see, and football in Argentina will feel a little odd at first without the short championships.

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Antonio Gramsci
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That's great, everyone, thanks!

Sam, I take it from your answer that it is quite possible for River and Boca at least to compete in both the Libertadores and the Sudamericana in the same year - but has this ever actually happened?

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goldstone97
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It's also worth noting, amidst all the hullabaloo over the 39th game, that Mexico's InterLiga competition to determine their Copa Libertadores entrants is played entirely in the United States.
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Antonio Gramsci
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Good point.

Also worth mentioning that Mexico is eligible to send teams to both CONMEBOL tournaments and CONCACAF ones. Raising the question: who will Mexico nominate to play in the new CONCACAF Champions League, which manages to conflict with both the Sudamericana and the Libertadores? The InterLiga losers, perhaps?

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ursus arctos
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Gramsci, the playing in each of the continental cups has definitely happened. In 2004, Boca Juniors won the Sudamericana and were losing finalists in the Libertadores.
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Antonio Gramsci
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Morning, Urs.

That's a lot of matches in one year. Presumably 12 or so in each competiton plus 17(19?) per championship. Plus cup matches...actually, does Argentina have a Cup? Come to think of it, do any Latin American countries have domestic cups as they do in Europe? Brazil has regional championships - are those a kind of cup substitute?

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ursus arctos
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As Sam notes above, only Brazil has a national cup, and that came about as the federation's attempt to introduce a genuine national competition (Brazilian football having long been dominated by the state championship competitions).

It is a huge number of matches, and my recollection is that Boca essentially had two teams during that period, with the "first" team playing in the cups. It actually isn't that unusual for a club to favour the Libertadores over its national competition, and now that I think about it, that may be one additional reason for the "split season" approach. If you tank the first half of your year in an unsuccessful bid for Copa glory, the apertura/clausura structure allows you to completely recover in the second half.

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Antonio Gramsci
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Missed that bit from Sam, sorry.
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Rogin the Armchair fan
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quote:
It actually isn't that unusual for a club to favour the Libertadores over its national competition
It's not that unusual for some big clubs in Europe to favour their continental competition in preference to the ultimately meaningless grind of domestic competition, of course. Especially when they're 19 points behind in the League and out of the Cup by mid-February ...
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Exploding Vole, The
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Other people are also looking for Latin American football to be explained.
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