Football in Argentina

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Football in Argentina
Estadio Ciudad de La Plata 20140510 2.jpg
Country Argentina
Governing body AFA
National team Argentina
First played 1867
Registered players 331,811 [1]
Clubs 3,337 [1]
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

Football is Argentina's most popular sport, the one with the most players (2,658,811 total, 331,811 of which are registered and 2,327,000 unregistered; with 3,377 clubs and 37,161 officials, all according to FIFA)[1] and is the most popular recreational sport, played from childhood into old age.[2] The percentage of Argentines that declare allegiance to an Argentine football club is about 90%.[3]

Football was introduced to Argentina in the latter half of the 19th century by the British immigrants in Buenos Aires. The first Argentine league was contested in 1891, making it the third oldest league (after Great Britain and the Netherlands).[4] The Argentine Football Association (AFA) was formed in 1893 and is the eighth oldest in the world.

The Argentine national team is one of the eight to have won the football World Cup, having done so in 1978 and 1986, and also being runner-up in 1930, 1990, and 2014. They have also won the top continental tournament, the Copa América, on fourteen occasions, and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1992. The nation's Olympic representative has won two Gold Medals (in 2004 and 2008), while the under-20 team has won a record six U-20 World Cups. At club level, Argentine teams have won the most Intercontinental Cups (9) and the most Copa Libertadores (22).

Women's football has a national league since 1991, the Campeonato de Fútbol Feminino. In turn, the female national representative qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 2007 and won their first Campeonato Sudamericano Femenino (top continental competition) in 2006.

In futsal, Argentina were FIFUSA/AMF Futsal World Cup champions in 1994.[5] They also compete in the FIFA code of futsal, where they finished third in the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Cup. The team also won the FIFA Futsal Copa América in 2003. Moreover, Argentina was world champion in futsal for the visually impaired in 1998.

Argentina also compete in the beach football World Cup, where their best finish was third in 2001.[6]

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

The first football match played in Argentina, as covered by The Standard.
The Buenos Aires Cricket Club Ground in Palermo, Buenos Aires held the first football match on 20 June 1867.

By 1867 there was a large British community in Buenos Aires who had arrived fresh from establishing their aforementioned, and slightly fictitious "Great British" league (see introduction) (which according to most other accounts was two leagues; a Scottish league and an English league, which would make the Argentine the 4th oldest, but for the sake of this article we will say it was just one.) Most of them had established themselves in Argentina coming from the United Kingdom as managers and workers of the British-owned railway companies that operated in Argentina. British citizens founded social and sports clubs where they could practise their sports, such as bowls, cricket, football, golf, horse riding, rugby union and tennis amongst others.

Two English immigrants Thomas and James Hogg organized a meeting on 9 May 1867 in Buenos Aires where the Buenos Aires Football Club was founded. The club was given permission by the Buenos Aires Cricket Club to make use of the cricket field in Parque Tres de Febrero, Palermo, Buenos Aires, on the site now occupied by the Galileo Galilei planetarium. The first recorded football match in Argentina took place on this pitch on 20 June 1867,[7] being covered by English language daily newspaper The Standard. This newspaper, published in Argentina, was the first one to cover football matches in the country.[8]

The game was played between two teams of British merchants, the White Caps and the Red Caps. In the 19th Century it was common practice for teams to be distinguished by caps rather than jerseys. The teams consisted of 8 players each as the organisers were unable to find more players for the match. The line-ups were: Thomas Hogg, James Hogg, William Forrester, T.B. Smith, J.W. Bond, E.S. Smith, J. Rabsbottom and N.H. Smith (one team); William Heald, T.R. Best, U. Smith, H.J. Barge, H. Willmont, R.M. Ramsay, J. Simpson and W. Boschetti (second team). The team led by Hogg won 4-0, according to The Standard newspaper published on June 23.[9]

The so-called "father of Argentine football" was a Glaswegian schoolteacher, Alexander Watson Hutton, who first taught football at St Andrew's School in Buenos Aires in the early 1880s. On 4 February 1884[10] he founded the Buenos Aires English High School, where he continued to instruct the pupils in the game.[11] In 1891 the Association Argentine Football League was established by Alex Lamont of St. Andrew's Scots School,[8] being the first football league outside of the British Isles.[12] Five clubs competed but only one season was ever played.

In this early period a number of football clubs were set up by the employees of the various British-owned railway companies in Argentina and a number of these teams have survived to the present day, including Ferro Carril Oeste, Ferrocarril Midland, Rosario Central and Talleres.

A new league, the The Argentine Association Football League was formed February 21, 1893 which eventually became the Argentine Football Association. In these early days of football in Argentina nearly all of the players and officials were expatriate Britons or of British extraction and the oldest football clubs in Argentina like Rosario Central, Newell's Old Boys and Quilmes were all founded by British expatriates.

The most successful and admired team of this early period was Alumni founded by graduates and students of Watson Hutton's English High School. Like all of the early clubs it was mainly made up of British players.

Towards the end of the 19th Century the game became increasingly popular amongst other European immigrants especially the Italians.

Most of the early clubs had a policy of excluding the local creole population. The backlash against this policy at Quilmes Athletic Club resulted in the formation of Argentino de Quilmes in 1899, the first of many Argentine clubs for Argentine players. The name Argentino or Argentinos has remained popular in Argentine football. The most famous team with the name is Argentinos Juniors who won the Copa Libertadores in 1985.

The early years of the 20th Century saw a huge number of new clubs formed, by 1907 there were over 300 teams in Argentina.[13] Most of the major clubs were created around this period; they played in the national amateur tournament or in local championships. By this time matches had a considerable attendance and as the popularity of the game increased the British influence on the game waned. In 1911 Alumni folded and by 1912 the Association was renamed in Spanish as the Asociación Argentina de Football, although the tradition of giving the clubs English names continued for many years.

During the early 20th Century many new football leagues were started in cities across Argentina as the popularity of the game spread out from Greater Buenos Aires, these include Rosario (1905), Córdoba (1912), Santa Fe (1913), San Miguel de Tucumán (1919) San Luis (1920) and Salta (1921).

The first official match played by the Argentina national team took place on May 16, 1901 against Uruguay resulted in a 3-2 win for Argentina.[14] This game marked the beginning of the Argentina and Uruguay football rivalry.

The first trophy won by Argentina was the Copa Lipton in 1905. They won their first tournament in 1910 (Copa Centenario de la Revolución de Mayo) which was contested between Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile.

In 1916 Argentina competed in the first Copa América which was won by Uruguay, they won the tournament for the first time in 1921 and have gone on to win it a total of 14 times.

In 1928 Argentina competed at the 1928 Olympics where they finished runners up to Uruguay. Two years later they competed in the first FIFA World Cup again finishing runners up to Uruguay.

Following two seasons of disrupted play due to mass cancellation and suspension of matches and the mid-season withdrawal of teams in the 1929[15] and 1930,[16] 18 teams decided to form a breakaway professional league for the 1931 season.[17] The amateur league carried on in parallel until it folded in 1934 with many of the teams joining the new professional second division[18] The creation of the professional league helped curb the exodus of Argentine talent to high paying European football clubs. The 1934 FIFA World Cup Italian national team championship side featured Oriundo in the squad composed of Argentine born players such as Raimundo Orsi, Enrique Guaita, and Luis Monti who also played for Argentina in the 1930 FIFA World Cup.

In 1964 Independiente became the first Argentine club to win the Copa Libertadores, Argentine clubs have won the competition a total of 22 times, Brazil clubs have the second most with 17.[19]

In 1967 Racing became the first Argentine team to win the Intercontinental Cup. Argentine clubs have won the tournament a record nine times.[20]

In 1978 Argentina hosted the FIFA World Cup, they beat Holland 3-1 After extra time to win their first World Cup. They won their second World Cup 1986.

In 1979 a young Diego Maradona was part of the Argentina under-20 team that won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Argentina have gone on to win a record six U-20 World Cups.[21]

In 1995 Rosario Central became the first club not based on Buenos Aires team to win the CONMEBOL Cup. Argentine clubs have won the tournament a record three times.[22]

In 2004 the Argentina Olympic football team won Gold at the Athens Olympic games, they defended their title in 2008 to become the first team to defend the Olympic football title since Hungary in 1968.[23]

Club football[edit]

League system[edit]

Around 450 registered football clubs play in the Argentine Football Association (AFA) league system, which is organized into a pyramid of eight leagues, divided at the third tier between the Greater Buenos Aires conurbation and the rest of the country (Interior). Below the fifth level there are a further 250 regional leagues which are affiliated with AFA and compete for the right to enter the league system at the lowest tier.

The Primera División is the highest level of club football in Argentina. It was founded in 1891 as an amateur competition, and founded again in 1931 as a professional league by 18 teams which were dissatisfied with the amateur system they were participating on until 1930. This group of 18 founding members of the present league included nearly all of the most prominent clubs of those times, unified by the idea that full and compulsory amateurism was no longer sustainable (many of those teams are still today among the most popular clubs in Argentina). For many years since the foundation of the professional Primera División, the only winners were the so-called "big five"[24] (Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing, River Plate and San Lorenzo de Almagro). This dominance was finally broken in 1967 by Estudiantes de La Plata; since then, ten other teams have won the championship, resulting in a total of 16 teams having been champions of Argentina as of 2012. River Plate have the most championships with 33. The only teams outside the Greater Buenos Aires conurbation to have won the championship are Rosario Central and Newell's Old Boys from Rosario, and Estudiantes de La Plata from La Plata.

The Primera División uses the Apertura and Clausura format, which is the standard in Latin American football, consisting of two championships or tournaments per season (seasons are one-year long): Apertura is the name of the championship or tournament that opens the season, Clausura is the championship or tournament that closes it, and relegations and promotions from the lower tiers are defined at (or just after) the ending of each Clausura. In the particular case of Argentina, the Apertura is contested in the second half of the calendar year, and the Clausura is played in the first half of the following year (in order to synchronize the seasons with those of the European football).

The Argentine Primera División league is made up of twenty teams, and each Apertura or Clausura championship is organized in a single round robin schedule, resulting in a total of nineteen rounds per championship and ten matches per round. If two given teams face each other in the Nth round of the Apertura championship (where N is a number between 1 and 19), the same given teams will face each other in the Nth round of the Clausura championship, but swapping the conditions of home and away teams.

At the end of each Clausura, around the middle of each year, the most successful teams of the whole season qualify to play in the Copa Sudamericana, and the least successful teams of the last three seasons (i.e., a period of three years instead of one) are either relegated to the second tier, or compelled to play two additional end-season matches with a team of the second tier (Primera B Nacional league) in an away and home format, wherein the winner after these two matches gains the right to play the next season in the Primera División, and the loser is condemned to the second tier. This system of two end-season additional matches is named Promoción, Spanish for Promotion or Graduation. Each year, two Primera División teams are relegated immediately, and two others are forced to play Promoción; therefore, depending on the Promoción results of the latter two teams, the number of relegated teams per year varies between two (if both Primera División teams win their respective Promoción) and four (if both Primera B Nacional teams win, as happened at the ending of the 2006-2007 season).

The qualification for the Copa Libertadores follows an irregular criterion: the most successful teams are not defined on a season basis (mid-year to mid-year), but on a calendar year basis instead, taking into account the Clausura championship of the previous season and the Apertura championship of the current one.

Below the Primera B Nacional the league system is regionalized, with a further three divisions for the Greater Buenos Aires, and three tournaments covering the so-called Interior (the rest of the country). Even below these eight leagues, the Argentine football outside the Buenos Aires metropolitan area is further regionalized into nearly 250 regional leagues, consisting of teams which participate in championships and tournaments not directly organized by the Argentine Football Association in order to obtain the right to enter the Torneo Argentino C (a.k.a. Torneo del Interior, at the 5th tier of the league system).

Titles by club[edit]

From 1891 to date, River Plate is the most winning team with 36 domestic championships, followed by Boca Juniors with 30 titles. Independiente and Racing Club share the 3rd position with 16 titles each.

Rivalries[edit]

There are many local rivalries in Argentine football. The most important is the Superderby, which is contested between Argentina's two most popular[25] and successful[24] teams, Buenos Aires rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors. The English newspaper The Observer put the Superclásico at the top of their list of "The 50 Sporting Things You Must Do Before You Die".[26]

The second most important rivalry in Argentine football is the Avellaneda derby, which is contested between Independiente and Racing, the 3rd and 5th most popular and 3rd and 6th most successful teams of the country respectively, both of Avellaneda. Other important derbies include the derby between Huracán and San Lorenzo de Almagro (has no particular denomination), the Rosarian derby (between Newell's Old Boys and Rosario Central), the Platense derby (between Estudiantes de La Plata and Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata), the West derby (between Ferro Carril Oeste and Vélez Sarsfield), the derby between Atlanta and Chacarita Juniors (formerly denominated "Villa Crespo derby"), the Santafesino derby (between Colón and Unión), the North Zone derby (between Platense and Tigre), the Cordovan derby (between Belgrano and Talleres), the derby between Instituto and Racing de Córdoba (has no particular denomination) and the Tucumanian derby (between San Martín and Tucumán).

National cups[edit]

Since the creation of the first league in 1891, several cups have been played in Argentine apart from the main competition, the Primera División championship. The first cup held in the country was the Copa de Honor Municipalidad de Buenos Aires; launched in 1905, it was played until 1936.[27]

The Copa Campeonato, originally awarded to Primera División champion, is the oldest trophy of Argentine football for a current competition,[28] having been established in 1896, three year after the Association was created,[29] and played without interruption until 1926.[30] The Cup received several names, such as "Championship Cup", "Copa Campeonato", "Challenge Cup" and "Copa Alumni",[31] due to the association offered legendary team Alumni to keep the Cup definitely for having won it three consecutive times (1900-02), but the club from Belgrano declined the honour to keep the trophy under dispute.[28][32]

All those competitions, although not considered league tournaments, are regarded as official titles. For example, the two stars on the jersey of Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP) represent both championships won by the club, the 1993 Copa Centenario de la AFA and the 1929 league title.

Clubs at international competitions[edit]

The most successful Argentine club on the international stage is Boca Juniors. The club has won a total of 18 officially recognised international tournaments, being the 2nd most winner club along with Italian AC Milan (the most winning team is Egyptian Al Ahly SC with 19 international titles).[33] Three of its wins are the Intercontinental Cup titles of 1977, 2000 and 2003.[34]

Independiente has won the most important continental title on the most occasions, its seven Copa Libertadores titles is a record, as is its feat of winning the title on four consecutive occasions (1972–1975).[19] Also, Independiente was the most successful club on international cups by more than twenty years (now has 16 cups and is overcome by Boca Juniors and Milan). These achievements earned them the nickname of Rey de copas (King of cups).

A number of other Argentine clubs have won the Copa Libertadores, including Estudiantes de La Plata who won it four times (1968, 1969, 1970 & 2009), River Plate (1986 & 1996), Racing (1967), Argentinos Juniors (1985), Vélez Sarsfield (1994) and San Lorenzo (2014).

Many Argentine teams have won international titles without having won the Argentine Primera: Talleres won the Copa CONMEBOL in 1999 and Arsenal de Sarandí won the Copa Sudamericana in 2007 (although the team then won a title, the 2012 Torneo Clausura).

Argentine clubs have taken part of the following international competitions:

Culture[edit]

Football plays an important part in the life of many Argentines. Even those supporters who usually do not attend the matches watch them on television and comment on them the next day with friends and co-workers. When the Argentina national football team plays (especially during world cup matches), streets tend to look completely deserted as everyone is watching the match. After the victories in 1978 FIFA World Cup and 1986 FIFA World Cup, streets were flooded with people celebrating the championship, making it impossible not to become part of the celebration.

It was in 1986 when the figure of Diego Maradona exploded, becoming an icon not only of Argentine football but of football itself. In Argentina, Maradona became something resemblant of a god (see Maradonian Church), admired by fans of every club (even River Plate).

Argentine fans are not allowed to travel to see their teams in away matches, as they have been banned since 2013.

Hinchas (fans) create an emotional ambiance in many stadiums, singing and cheering loudly all game long, but since the away fan ban, the atmosphere in many stadia has been poor, with goals for away teams greeted by silence. Also, there has been a preponderance of home wins in the league, as players struggle to perform with no terrace support. Sides such as Newell's Old Boys, whose fans are famous for creating an exciting atmosphere[who?], have particularly struggled in away games where this has been absent.

Barra bravas (Argentine organized groups -like the English hooligan firms-) also create occasional problems, usually in riots after the match.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Country info on FIFA website
  2. ^ Secretaría de Deportes de la Nación e INDEC; Censo sobre Hábitos en actividades físicas y deportivas de la población argentina, Buenos Aires, 2000.
  3. ^ Consulto Aequis
  4. ^ Argentina 1891 at RSSSF
  5. ^ AMF statistics (Spanish)
  6. ^ AFA - Fútbol Playa (Spanish)
  7. ^ "Early History of Football in Argentina'" - RSSSF. URL accessed on 21 January 2013.
  8. ^ a b Historia del Fútbol Amateur en la Argentina, by Jorge Iwanczuk. Published by Autores Editores (1992) - ISBN 9504343848
  9. ^ "El fútbol nacional cumple años", Clarín, 20 June 2007
  10. ^ "Alumni Athletic Club" - RSSSF. URL accessed on June 6, 2006.
  11. ^ "Buenos Aires English High School" URL accessed on 21 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Salvation army", The Guardian, 4 June 2006
  13. ^ EFD Deportes (Spanish)
  14. ^ AFA - 1901-1930 |(Spanish)
  15. ^ 1929 in Argentine football at rsssf
  16. ^ 1930 in Argentine football at rsssf
  17. ^ 1931 in Argentine football at rsssf
  18. ^ Argentine 2nd division champions at rsssf.
  19. ^ a b Copa Libertadores at rsssf
  20. ^ Intercontinental Cup at rsssf
  21. ^ Under 20 World Cup at rsssf
  22. ^ Copa CONMEBOL
  23. ^ Olympic football tournament at rsssf
  24. ^ a b Argentina - List of champions at rsssf
  25. ^ Argentine football statistics PDF
  26. ^ 50 sporting things you must do before you die
  27. ^ Argentina - Domestic Cup History on RSSSF
  28. ^ a b "El trofeo más añejo del fútbol argentino" at AFA website, 26 Jun 2013
  29. ^ Orígenes de la Asociación on AFA website
  30. ^ Memoria y Balance 1935 - Argentine Football Association Library
  31. ^ "Presentaron Superfinal Vélez-Newell's" ESPN
  32. ^ "Una Copa con mucha historia", Diario Uno, 27 Jun 2013
  33. ^ "Al Ahly, el nuevo Rey de Copas" on Pasión Libertadores, 20 Feb 2014
  34. ^ Intercontinental Cup ar rsssf

External links[edit]