Colombian Football

In a continent comprising Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, Colombia was always likely to be dwarfed in footballing stature by its neighbors. This lack of stature does not diminish the country´s passion for football, however, it being far and away the most popular sport in the country.
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Falcao, Colombian Football TalentThe national federation was established in 1924 and joined FIFA in 1936. Since then the most successful and renowned team in Colombian national football history is undoubtedly the golden generation of the 90s, led by iconic and gifted players Carlos ´El Pibe´ Valderrama and René Higuita.
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> In USA 1994 Colombia reached the 2nd round of the World Cup, achieving an impressive and much celebrated 5-0 victory over Argentina in the process. In 2001, Colombia hosted and won the Copa América.
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At the domestic level the Colombian league has consistently enjoyed emphatic support from locals, experiencing a heyday in the late 80s to mid 90s when an influx of cash arrived from the drug trade. Attendances in this period averaged around 15,000, but, as the mobs began to break up, teams experienced a loss of cash-flow and attendances subsequently dropped.

Currently, under the careful guidance of governing sporting bodies, domestic Colombian football is experiencing a resurgence and events such as the 2011 U20s FIFA World Cup serve both to emphasize this point and build upon it.
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The most successful teams in Colombian history are Millionarios (Bogotá) and América de Cali (Cali), who have 13 titles to their names. Millionarios´s dominance looks soon to end, however. Like Liverpool in England´s Premier League their dominance can be attributed to a successful history rather than recent victories.

Again like Liverpool, it has been 20 years since they last won the league. Nonetheless, the club is one of the most fiercely supported in Colombia, along with América de Cali, Atlético Nacional (Medellín), Independiente Santa Fé (Bogotá), Chicó (Tunja) and Junior (Barranquilla).
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The national Colombian league is divided into 3 divisions: Categoría Primera A (Liga , Postobón),  Categoría Primera B (Torneo Postobón), and Categoría Primera C. The championship is decided in a tournament format, with teams from Primera A playing each other once each with an extra match against their local rivals. The top 8 teams subsequently proceed to the playoffs. The final game of the playoffs is decided over 2 legs, with no away-goal rule and penalties immediately following in the case of a draw.
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In international competitions Colombian teams have enjoyed a small amount of success, with Atlético Nacional winning the Copa Libertadores  in 1984 and Once Caldes pulling off a surprise victory in 2004.

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