Ecuador Liga Pro
The Primera Categoría Serie A, simply known as Serie A or Primera A, is a professional football league in Ecuador. At the head of the Ecuadorian football league system, it is the country's premier football competition. It is contested by 16 clubs and operates a promotion and descent system with the Serie B, the lower level of the Primera Categoría. The season lasts from February to December and is usually held in several stages. It is sponsored by the beer company Pilsener and is officially known as Copa Pilsener Serie A.
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The Serie A is not a league at first, but has its roots in the national championship between the top teams of the two regional leagues Ecuador. In the first nine editions, teams from Guayaquil and Quito qualified for the competition through their regional professionals. The qualification format was abandoned in 1967 to form a proper league. Since the first edition in 1957, the tournament is held annually (except 1958 and 1959). The 2005 season had two champions. It was ranked by IFFHS as the world's 13th strongest football league for 2011 and the 5th-strongest in South America.
Eight different teams became Ecuadorian champions, but four teams have a total of 46 championships. The most successful club is Barcelona with fifteen titles. The defending champion is LDU Quito.
The format for the national championship of Serie A is constantly changing. The most common format is a two-stage tournament in which teams qualify for a mini-league (Spanish: Liguilla) to determine the winner. The current format was introduced for the 2010 season and consists of three levels. The first and second stages follow the double-round-robin format. The winners of each stage compete against each other in the third stage of the championship. A match for third place also takes place in the third phase between the next two best teams in the overall table. If the same team wins both the first and second levels, it is automatically the champion. In this case, the second and third best teams play in the overall table for second place against each other.
The descent takes place after the second stage and is determined on the basis of an aggregate table of the first two stages. In the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana the following season, the teams not only fight for the championship title and avoid relegation.
All football in Ecuador was played at amateur level until 1950, when the Guayas Football Association (Spanish: Asociación de Fútbol del Guayas [AFG]) became a professional and hosted its first professional tournament for affiliated clubs (for clubs in Guayaquil). The professional football championship of Guayaquil (Spanish: Campeonato Professional de Fútbol de Guayaquil) was first held in 1951 and won by Río Guayas. In 1954, the Football Association in Pichincha (currently Asociación de Fútbol No Amatur de Pichincha [AFNA]) decided to become professional and run their own professional tournament for the affiliated clubs (for clubs in Quito & Ambato). The first Inter-Andean Professional Championship (Spanish: Campeonato Professional Interandino) took place in 1954 and was won by LDU Quito.
The two tournaments were the highest football leagues in Ecuador, but the respective champions could not claim to be national champions. That changed in 1957, when a national football tournament was organized for the winners of the two leagues. The first Ecuadorian football championship was held between the champion and runner-up of the 1957 Campeonato Professional de Guayaquil (Emelec and Barcelona) and the 1957 champion and runner-up of the 1957 Campeonato Professional Interandino (Deportivo Quito and Aucas). respectively). Emelec won the tournament and became the first national football champion in Ecuador.
In the years 1958 and 1959 no championship was held. The tournament returned in 1960 in the same format as in 1957. This time the field grew from four to eight teams. This format continued until 1967 when a number of changes were made: 1) The regional tournaments were discontinued after the 1967 season. 2) teams, which denied the national championship from 1968, now belonged to the Primera Categoría; and 3) a second stage of Ecuadorian football (Segunda Categoría) was brought into play and a system of descent and ascent began in 1967.
In 1971, the Primera Categoría was divided into two series: Serie A and Serie B. Serie A should be the highest level of club football, Serie B the second and Segunda the third. Between 1983 and 1988, the B series was merged into the Segunda, but the Serie A was continued. The B series was brought back in 1989 and has been the second stage ever since.
In 2005, the Campeonato Ecuatoriano was split into two tournaments to crown two champions in a year. The two tournaments were called Apertura and Clausura. The tournament returned to its year-round format in 2006.
A total of 55 clubs have participated in the Serie A since the first season of 1957. Although Barcelona is the only club that has never relied, no club has ever played in each season. This anomaly is due to the fact that the teams from Guayaquil (including Barcelona and Emelec) in 1964 refused to participate in the national championship.
The following 16 clubs compete in Serie A in the 2019 season.
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