Categoría Primera A

Liga Águila
Country Colombia
Confederation CONMEBOL
Founded 1948
Number of teams 20
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Categoría Primera B
Domestic cup(s) Copa Colombia
Superliga Colombiana
International cup(s) Copa Libertadores
Copa Sudamericana
Current champions Independiente Medellín (6th title)
Most championships Atlético Nacional
(15 titles)
Most capped player Gabriel Berdugo (733)
Top goalscorer Sergio Galván Rey (224)
TV partners Win Sports (8 games by round)
RCN Colombia (2 games by round)
RCN Nuestra Tele
BandSports in Brazil
2016 season

The Categoría Primera A (Spanish pronunciation: [kateɣoˈɾi.a pɾiˈmeɾa ˈa]), commonly referred to as Liga Águila[1] due to sponsorship by brewery company Bavaria (manufacturer of Águila beer), 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. The league was ranked 11th by the IFFHS in its list "The Strongest National League in The World 2015", being the third best in South America.[2]

A total of twenty clubs compete in the league's regular season. División Mayor del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano, better known as Dimayor, operates the league system of promotion and relegation for both Categoría Primera A and Categoría Primera B leagues. Since its founding in 1948, fourteen teams have been crowned as Colombian football champions. The most successful club is Atlético Nacional with 15 titles.


League stage

During the league stage, which lasts for twenty matches, each team plays against every other team once. The league table follows a normal European league table, one point for ties and three points for a win. The top eight teams advance to the playoffs.


The playoffs have been organized in two different ways over the course of the short tournaments. They were first organized by dividing the eight teams into two groups where they would play home and away games; then, the two group winners would play the final. In later years, the playoffs are organized in pairs and play direct elimination in home and away games until only two teams reach the finals.


The finals involve two games. The team with the highest overall points achieved during the league stage gets to play the second game in their home stadium; if the aggregate points are the same, the home game is determined by the goal difference. The team with the highest aggregate score after both home and away games wins and is awarded the championship. If the games end up in a tie, there is no additional time and it proceeds directly to a penalty shoot-out. The away goals rule is not used.


Relegation from Primera A is based on an averaging system. At the end of each season, the two teams with the worst three-year average are relegated to Primera B.

Superliga Colombiana

Once the torneo Finalización is over, the winner of Apertura and Finalización face each other off in Superliga Colombiana and the winner is given a spot in the Copa Sudamericana.


Before 1948 there was no professional football league in Colombia. The first clubs were formed in Barranquilla and Bogotá: Barranquilla FC, Polo Club, Escuela Militar and Bartolinos, although the game took a while to develop in popularity.[3] The 1918 Campeonato Nacional was the first tournament played between Colombian clubs, followed by the Copa Centenario Batalla de Boyacá. Independiente Medellín, founded on 15 April 1913, is the oldest club that remains as a professional club.[4] The first tournament was organised by Colombian Football Federation and DIMAYOR in 1948. In the tournament 10 teams signed up (each had to pay a fee of 1,000 pesos): one of Barranquilla, two of Bogotá, two of Cali, two of Manizales, two of Medellín and two of Pereira.[5] 252 players were registered as follows: 182 Colombians, 13 Argentines, 8 Peruvians, 5 Uruguayans, 2 Chileans, 2 Ecuadorians, 1 Dominican and 1 Spanish.[5]

From 1949 to 1954 the DIMAYOR, the organiser of the league, broke away from FIFA after a dispute with Adefútbol, the existing amateur football authority in Colombia, in a period known as El Dorado. Therefore, all Colombian teams were suspended from playing international football. The Colombian national team was also under sanction. However, FIFA sanction did not hurt the league; instead, the Colombian league reached its golden era during the period.[6] During the early 1950s the league was dominated by Millonarios FC as they won consecutive championship with recognised players such as Alfredo di Stéfano.

In 1968 the league followed the pattern common in South America by splitting into two separate competitions per season, the Apertura (February to June) and the Finalización (July to December). During the 1980s saw the emergence of América de Cali as they won 5 consecutive championships and so far are the only ones who have done it. In 1991 a second division was added to the first with a third, now defunct. The Copa Colombia appeared in 1950 although this knockout competition was only contested from time to time until 2008 when it became an annual tournament.[7] Since 2002 the Apertura and Finalización tournaments became separate with each having their own champion, which meant two champions per year. Since that change Atlético Nacional of Medellín have dominated the league, in the 2007 season they would become the first and only club to win both the Apertura and Finalización tournaments, they would repeat this in the 2013 season as well.

Current teams

Teams for 2016 season

Team City Stadium Head Coach First season
in the Primera A
Last title
Alianza Petrolera Barrancabermeja Daniel Villa Zapata Colombia Jorge Luis Bernal 2013 None
Atlético Bucaramanga Bucaramanga Alfonso López Colombia Flabio Torres 1949 None
Atlético Huila Neiva Guillermo Plazas Alcid Colombia Virgilio Puerto 1993 None
Atlético Nacional Medellín Atanasio Girardot Colombia Reinaldo Rueda 1948 2015-II
Boyacá Chicó Tunja La Independencia Uruguay Nelson Olveira 2004 2008-I
Cortuluá Tuluá Doce de Octubre Colombia Jaime de la Pava 1994 None
Deportes Tolima Ibagué Manuel Murillo Toro Colombia Alberto Gamero 1955 2003-II
Deportivo Cali Cali Deportivo Cali Colombia Mario Yepes 1948 2015-I
Deportivo Pasto Pasto Libertad Colombia José Santa 1999 2006-I
Envigado Envigado Polideportivo Sur Spain Ismael Rescalvo 1992 None
Fortaleza Bogotá Metropolitano de Techo Colombia Carlos Barato 2014 None
Independiente Medellín Medellín Atanasio Girardot Colombia Leonel Álvarez 1948 2009-II
Jaguares Montería Jaraguay Colombia Germany Hubert Bodhert 2015 None
Junior Barranquilla Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez Colombia Giovanni Hernández 1948 2011-II
La Equidad Bogotá Metropolitano de Techo Colombia Arturo Boyacá 2007 None
Millonarios Bogotá Nemesio Camacho Argentina Diego Cocca 1948 2012-II
Once Caldas Manizales Palogrande Argentina Hernán Lisi 1948 2010-II
Patriotas Tunja La Independencia Colombia Harold Rivera 2012 None
Rionegro Águilas Rionegro Alberto Grisales Colombia Néstor Otero 2011 None
Santa Fe Bogotá Nemesio Camacho Argentina Gustavo Costas 1948 2014-II

Seasons by club

This is the complete list of the clubs that have taken part in at least one Categoría Primera A season, founded in 1948, until 2016 season.[8] Teams that currently play are indicated in bold.

Clubs in international competitions



As of 13 March 2016[9]
Rank Name Years Appearances
1 Colombia Gabriel Berdugo 1973–1981773
2 Colombia Alexis García 1980–1998723
3 Colombia Arturo Segovia 1963–1979706
4 Colombia Jorge Bermúdez 1989–1996, 2005, 2006–2007682
5 Colombia Misael Flórez 1962–1981652

Top scorers

As of 13 March 2016[10]
Rank Name Years Goals
1 Argentina Sergio Galván Rey 1996–2011224[11]
2 Colombia Iván Valenciano 1988–2009217
3 Argentina Colombia Hugo Lóndero 1969–1981211
4 Argentina Oswaldo Palavecino 1975–1985204
5 Colombia Jorge Ramírez Gallego 1962–1975201
6 Argentina Omar Devanni 1962–1975198
7 Colombia Víctor Aristizábal 1963–1971187
8 Colombia Arnoldo Iguarán 1977–1997186
9 Colombia Willington Ortiz 1972–1988184
10 Uruguay José Verdún 1962–1971184

Champions by seasons

The only tournament that was not awarded to a champion occurred on 1989, after the assassination of referee Álvaro Ortega on October 1 in Medellín. All games, post-season games and international representation for the following year were cancelled.[12][13]


Season Champion (Title count) Runner-up Leading goalscorer(s)[14]
1948 Santa Fe (1) Junior Argentina Alfredo Castillo (Millonarios; 31 goals)
1949 Millonarios (1) Deportivo Cali Argentina Pedro Cabillón (Millonarios; 42 goals)
1950 Deportes Caldas (1) Millonarios Paraguay Casimiro Ávalos (Deportivo Pereira; 27 goals)
1951 Millonarios (2) Boca Juniors Argentina Alfredo Di Stéfano (Millonarios; 31 goals)
1952 Millonarios (3) Boca Juniors Argentina Alfredo Di Stéfano (Millonarios; 19 goals)
1953 Millonarios (4) Atlético Quindío Argentina Mario Garelli (Atlético Quindío; 20 goals)
1954 Atlético Nacional (1) Atlético Quindío Argentina Carlos Alberto Gambina (Atlético Nacional; 21 goals)
1955 Independiente Medellín (1) Atlético Nacional Argentina Felipe Marino (Independiente Medellín; 22 goals)
1956 Atlético Quindío (1) Millonarios Colombia Jaime Gutiérrez (Atlético Quindío; 21 goals)
1957 Independiente Medellín (2) Deportes Tolima Argentina José Vicente Grecco (Independiente Medellín; 30 goals)
1958 Santa Fe (2) Millonarios Argentina José Américo Montanini (Bucaramanga; 36 goals)
1959 Millonarios (5) Independiente Medellín Argentina Felipe Marino (Cúcuta Deportivo / Independiente Medellín; 35 goals)
1960 Santa Fe (3) América Argentina Walter Marcolini (Deportivo Cali; 30 goals)
1961 Millonarios (6) Independiente Medellín Argentina Alberto Perazzo (Santa Fe; 32 goals)
1962 Millonarios (7) Deportivo Cali Uruguay José Omar Verdún (Cúcuta Deportivo; 36 goals)
1963 Millonarios (8) Santa Fe Argentina Omar Devani (Bucaramanga; 36 goals)
Uruguay José Omar Verdún (Cúcuta Deportivo; 36 goals)
1964 Millonarios (9) Cúcuta Deportivo Argentina Omar Devani (Unión Magdalena / Bucaramanga; 28 goals)
1965 Deportivo Cali (1) Atlético Nacional Argentina Perfecto Rodríguez (Independiente Medellín; 38 goals)
1966 Santa Fe (4) Independiente Medellín Argentina Omar Devani (Santa Fe; 31 goals)
1967 Deportivo Cali (2) Millonarios Argentina José María Ferrero (Millonarios; 38 goals)
1968 Unión Magdalena (1) Deportivo Cali Argentina José María Ferrero (Millonarios; 32 goals)
1969 Deportivo Cali (3) América Argentina Colombia Hugo Lóndero (América; 25 goals)
1970 Deportivo Cali (4) Junior Argentina José María Ferrero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 27 goals)
Uruguay Walter Sossa (Santa Fe; 27 goals)
1971 Santa Fe (5) Atlético Nacional Argentina Colombia Hugo Lóndero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 30 goals)
Paraguay Apolinar Paniagua (Deportivo Pereira; 30 goals)
1972 Millonarios (10) Deportivo Cali Argentina Colombia Hugo Lóndero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 27 goals)
1973 Atlético Nacional (2) Millonarios Uruguay Nelson Silva Pacheco (Cúcuta Deportivo / Junior; 36 goals)
1974 Deportivo Cali (5) Atlético Nacional Brazil Víctor Ephanor (Junior; 33 goals)
1975 Santa Fe (6) Millonarios Argentina Jorge Ramón Cáceres (Deportivo Pereira; 35 goals)
1976 Atlético Nacional (3) Deportivo Cali Argentina Miguel Angel Converti (Millonarios; 33 goals)
1977 Junior (1) Deportivo Cali Argentina Oswaldo Marcial Palavecino (Atlético Nacional; 33 goals)
1978 Millonarios (11) Deportivo Cali Argentina Oswaldo Marcial Palavecino (Atlético Nacional; 36 goals)
1979 América (1) Santa Fe Argentina Juan José Irigoyén (Millonarios; 36 goals)
1980 Junior (2) Deportivo Cali Argentina Sergio Cierra (Deportivo Pereira; 26 goals)
1981 Atlético Nacional (4) Deportes Tolima Argentina Víctor Hugo del Río (Deportes Tolima; 29 goals)
1982 América (2) Deportes Tolima Argentina Miguel Oswaldo González (Bucaramanga; 27 goals)
1983 América (3) Junior Argentina Hugo Gottardi (Santa Fe; 29 goals)
1984 América (4) Millonarios Argentina Hugo Gottardi (Independiente Santa Fe; 23 goals)
1985 América (5) Deportivo Cali Argentina Miguel Oswaldo González (Bucaramanga; 34 goals)
1986 América (6) Deportivo Cali Argentina Héctor Ramón Sossa (Independiente Medellín; 23 goals)
1987 Millonarios (12) América Chile Jorge Aravena (Deportivo Cali; 23 goals)
1988 Millonarios (13) Atlético Nacional Colombia Sergio Angulo (Santa Fe; 29 goals)
Championship not awarded
1990 América (7) Atlético Nacional Colombia Antony de Ávila (América; 25 goals)
1991 Atlético Nacional (5) América Colombia Iván Valenciano (Junior; 30 goals)
1992 América (8) Atlético Nacional Colombia John Jairo Tréllez (Atlético Nacional; 25 goals)
1993 Junior (3) Independiente Medellín Colombia Miguel Guerrero (Junior; 34 goals)
1994 Atlético Nacional (6) Millonarios Colombia Rubén Darío Hernández (Independiente Medellín / Deportivo Pereira / América; 32 goals)
1995 Junior (4) América Colombia Iván Valenciano (Junior; 24 goals)
1995–96 Deportivo Cali (6) Millonarios Colombia Iván Valenciano (Junior; 36 goals)
1996–97 América (9) Atlético Bucaramanga Colombia Hamilton Ricard (Deportivo Cali; 36 goals)
1998 Deportivo Cali (7) Once Caldas Colombia Víctor Bonilla (Deportivo Cali; 37 goals)
1999 Atlético Nacional (7) América Argentina Sergio Galván Rey (Once Caldas; 26 goals)
2000 América (10) Junior Colombia Carlos Alberto Castro (Millonarios; 24 goals)
2001 América (11) Independiente Medellín Colombia Carlos Alberto Castro (Millonarios; 29 goals)
Colombia Jorge Horacio Serna (Independiente Medellín; 29 goals)
2002 Apertura América (12) Atlético Nacional Colombia Luis Fernando Zuleta (Unión Magdalena; 13 goals)
Finalización Independiente Medellín (3) Deportivo Pasto Colombia Orlando Ballesteros (Bucaramanga; 13 goals)
Colombia Milton Rodríguez (Deportivo Pereira; 13 goals)
2003 Apertura Once Caldas (2) Junior Colombia Arnulfo Valentierra (Once Caldas; 13 goals)
Finalización Deportes Tolima (1) Deportivo Cali Colombia Léider Preciado (Deportivo Cali; 17 goals)
2004 Apertura Independiente Medellín (4) Atlético Nacional Colombia Sergio Herrera (América; 13 goals)
Finalización Junior (5) Atlético Nacional Colombia Leonardo Fabio Moreno (América; 15 goals)
Colombia Léider Preciado (Santa Fe; 15 goals)
2005 Apertura Atlético Nacional (8) Santa Fe Colombia Víctor Aristizábal (Atlético Nacional; 16 goals)
Finalización Deportivo Cali (8) Real Cartagena Colombia Jámerson Rentería (Real Cartagena; 12 goals)
Colombia Hugo Rodallega (Deportivo Cali; 12 goals)
2006 Apertura Deportivo Pasto (1) Deportivo Cali Colombia Jorge Díaz Moreno (Cúcuta Deportivo; 15 goals)
Finalización Cúcuta Deportivo (1) Deportes Tolima Colombia Diego Álvarez (Independiente Medellín; 11 goals)
Colombia Jhon Charría (Deportes Tolima; 11 goals)
2007 Apertura Atlético Nacional (9) Atlético Huila Colombia Fredy Montero (Atlético Huila; 13 goals)
Colombia Sergio Galván Rey (Atlético Nacional; 13 goals)
Finalización Atlético Nacional (10) La Equidad Colombia Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas; 16 goals)
2008 Apertura Boyacá Chicó (1) América Argentina Miguel Caneo (Boyacá Chicó FC; 13 goals)
Colombia Iván Velásquez (Deportes Quindío; 13 goals)
Finalización América (13) Independiente Medellín Colombia Fredy Montero (Deportivo Cali; 16 goals)
2009 Apertura Once Caldas (3) Junior Colombia Teófilo Gutiérrez (Junior; 16 goals)
Finalización Independiente Medellín (5) Atlético Huila Colombia Jackson Martínez (Independiente Medellín; 18 goals)
2010 Apertura Junior (6) La Equidad Colombia Carlos Bacca (Junior; 12 goals)
Colombia Carlos Rentería (La Equidad; 12 goals)
Finalización Once Caldas (4) Deportes Tolima Colombia Wilder Medina (Deportes Tolima; 16 goals)
Colombia Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas; 16 goals)
2011 Apertura Atlético Nacional (11) La Equidad Colombia Carlos Rentería (Atlético Nacional; 12 goals)
Finalización Junior (7) Once Caldas Colombia Carlos Bacca (Junior; 12 goals)
2012 Apertura Santa Fe (7) Deportivo Pasto Paraguay Robin Ramírez (Deportes Tolima; 13 goals)
Finalización Millonarios (14) Independiente Medellín Colombia Henry Hernández (Cúcuta Deportivo; 9 goals)
Colombia Carmelo Valencia (La Equidad; 9 goals)
Argentina Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 9 goals)
2013 Apertura Atlético Nacional (12) Santa Fe Colombia Wilder Medina (Santa Fe; 12 goals)
Finalización Atlético Nacional (13) Deportivo Cali Colombia Dayro Moreno (Millonarios; 16 goals)
Colombia Luis Carlos Ruiz (Junior; 16 goals)
2014 Apertura Atlético Nacional (14) Junior Colombia Dayro Moreno (Millonarios; 12 goals)
Finalización Santa Fe (8) Independiente Medellín Argentina Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 16 goals)
2015 Apertura Deportivo Cali (9) Independiente Medellín Colombia Fernando Uribe (Millonarios; 15 goals)
Finalización Atlético Nacional (15) Junior Colombia Jefferson Duque (Atlético Nacional; 15 goals)
2016 Apertura Independiente Medellín (6) Junior Colombia Miguel Borja (Cortuluá; 19 goals)

Source for champions and runners-up by season: RSSSF[15]


The trophy that is given to the champion of the league is the same one since 1948, the winners are given replica for their trophy rooms. Meanwhile, the original one used in 1948 Campeonato Profesional is in the DIMAYOR headquarters and is engraved with all the names of the clubs who have won it.[16] Another trophy is given as well by the sponsor of league, the design is changed once the current sponsorship of the tournament is over.

List of Champions and Runners-Up

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years Runners-up years
Atlético Nacional 15 10 1954, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2005–I, 2007–I, 2007–II, 2011–I, 2013–I, 2013–II, 2014–I, 2015–II 1955, 1965, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2002–I, 2004–I, 2004–II
Millonarios 14 9 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1972, 1978, 1987, 1988, 2012–II 1950, 1956, 1958, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1984, 1994, 1995–96
América 13 7 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1996–97, 2000, 2001, 2002–I, 2008–II 1960, 1969, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2008–I
Deportivo Cali 9 13 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1995–96, 1998, 2005–II, 2015–I 1949, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1986, 2003–II, 2006–I, 2013–II
Santa Fe 8 4 1948, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1971, 1975, 2012–I, 2014–II 1963, 1979, 2005–I, 2013–I
Junior 7 9 1977, 1980, 1993, 1995, 2004–II, 2010–I, 2011–II 1948, 1970, 1983, 2000, 2003–I, 2009–I, 2014–I, 2015–II, 2016–I
Independiente Medellín 6 9 1955, 1957, 2002–II, 2004–I, 2009–II, 2016–I 1959, 1961, 1966, 1993, 2001, 2008–II, 2012–II, 2014–II, 2015–I
Once Caldas 4 2 1950, 2003–I, 2009–I, 2010–II 1998, 2011–II
Deportes Tolima 1 5 2003–II 1957, 1981, 1982, 2006–II, 2010–II
Deportivo Pasto 1 2 2006–I 2002–II, 2012–I
Deportes Quindío 1 2 1956 1953, 1954
Cúcuta Deportivo 1 1 2006–II 1964
Boyacá Chicó 1 0 2008–I
Unión Magdalena 1 0 1968
La Equidad 3 2007–II, 2010–I, 2011–I
Atlético Huila 2 2007–I, 2009–II
Boca Juniors 2 1951, 1952
Real Cartagena 1 2005–II
Atlético Bucaramanga 1 1996–97

Source: RSSSF


  3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Ruíz Bonilla, Guillermo (2008). La gran historia del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano. Ediciones Dayscript. pp. 12–14; 19. ISBN 978-958-987-1300.
  5. 1 2 Ruíz Bonilla, Guillermo (2008). La gran historia del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano. Ediciones Dayscript. p. 51. ISBN 978-958-987-1300.
  6. El Tiempo - Colombia entra en la élite del fútbol mundial con 'la época de El Dorado' (Spanish)
  7. Acosta, Andrés (2013-01-10). "Colombia - List of Cup Winners". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Andrés Acosta and RSSSF. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  8. Acosta, Andrés; Ballesteros, Frank (15 January 2010). "Colombia - All-Time Table First Division".
  12. Ruiz Bonilla, Guillermo (October 2008). La gran historia del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano [The Grand History of Colombian Professional Football] (in Spanish). Ediciones Dayscript. p. 223. ISBN 978-958-98713-0-0.
  13. The 1989 on RSSSF
  14. Arteaga, José; Ballesteros, Frank (March 6, 2008). "Colombian League Top Scorers". website. RSSSF. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  15. Juan Pablo Andres and Frank Ballesteros, 22 May 2014. "Colombia - List of Champions and Runners-Up". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  16. Caracol Radio, ed. (14 July 2012). "Estos son los trofeos que reciben los campeones" (in Spanish).

External links

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