Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Primera División Argentina
The Argentine league is currently ranked among the top 5 in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. It is one of the most prolific sources of players for the world's other top leagues such as La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), and the Bundesliga (Germany).
The league tournament
The 20 teams play two single-round tournaments each year: the Clausura (February to June), and the Apertura (August to December). Thus, there are two champions each season. Unlike most European countries, Argentina has no official Cup competition.
The names of the tournaments (Closing and Opening, respectively) reflect Northern Hemisphere seasons. This scheme was introduced in the 1980s, and is alien to Argentines - who live in the Southern Hemisphere and are thus used to school years and sports seasons that span a single calendar year (for example 2003, as opposed to 2003/04).
Relegation and Promotion
Relegation is based on an averaging system. At the end of each season, the two teams with the worst three-year averages are relegated, and the best two teams in the second division are promoted. The teams placed 17th and 18th in the averages table play a best-of-three playoff with the 4rd and 3th placed teams in the second division, respectively. Thus, the number of teams promoted each year varies between two and four. Newly-promoted teams only average the seasons since their last promotion.
It is commonly believed that averaging was instituted in the 1980s to minimize the chance of large clubs being relegated, after San Lorenzo de Almagro was relegated in 1981, Racing Club was teetering on the brink, and Boca Juniors had a dismal 1984 season.
Professionalism was instituted in 1931. In the early years, only teams from Buenos Aires, Greater Buenos Aires (notably Avellaneda) and La Plata were affiliated to the national association. Teams from Rosario and Santa Fé joined in later years.
A single tournament would be played each year, and the champion would be the team with them most points. This arrangement lasted until 1966 (in 1936, the winners of Copa de Honor and the Campeonato played a match for the championship title).
Starting in 1967, two championships were played each year: the Metropolitano, with the same structure as the old tournment, and the Nacional, which was open to teams from the provinces.
This change brought about a revolution in Argentine football, as small teams (first Estudiantes, then Vélez Sársfield, Chacarita and others) broke down the hegemony of the five clubs who had won all the championships up to that date.
Originally, the Nacional was a regular one-group championship, from which the six best teams would advance to the Metropolitano. In 1970 the tournaments where separated; the Metropolitano had its own qualifying groups, and the Nacional two groups and play-offs. In 1977 the Metropolitano became a one-group, two-round league championship.
The Metropolitano was always played first, until the order of the tournaments was reversed in 1983.
Following the advice of Argentina national football team's then coach Carlos Salvador Bilardo, the structure of play was modified in 1985. That year, after the Nacional was played, the new single tournament (1985/86) was played for the first time. Five years later, it was split into two single-round tournaments, giving birth to the current arrangement. In 1991 and 1992, the two champions played winner-take-all matches, but this practice was quickly abandoned, so that two equally valid champions are crowned every season.
Even though the current structure provides provincial teams a road to promotion, the dominance of Boca Juniors and River Plate has only increased since the mid-90s. No team from outside the Buenos Aires-Rosario axis has ever won a title, and no major changes in this area are expected in the near future.
Traditionally, two teams from Argentina have played in the Copa Libertadores each year. Since 1987, CONMEBOL sponsors other competitions (first the now-extinct Supercopa, and then the Copa CONMEBOL and the Copa Sudamericana), and the number of Argentine teams playing the Libertadores has gone up to five. Thus, at least eight teams have an international schedule in addition to their league compromises.
The Copa Libertadores remains the most prestigious competition in South America; Independiente has a record seven wins, followed by Boca with five, Estudiantes with three, River Plate with two, and Racing Club, Argentinos Juniors and Vélez Sársfield with one apiece.
Champions of Argentine Football
|Club||Times Champion||Times Second||Times Third|
|Newell's Old Boys||5||2||3|
|Ferro Carril Oeste||2||3||1|
|Gimnasia y Esgrima LP||0||4||3|
- Paraguayan Arsenio Erico (C.A. Independiente) is the league's all-time top scorer with 293 goals in 332 matches from 1934 to 1947. He also holds the record for most goals in one season; 47 in 1937.
- Diego Armando Maradona was top scorer in five tournments (1978M, 1979M, 1979N, 1980M, 1980N), all of them with Argentinos Juniors.
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