Football in Ecuador
The governing body of football in Ecuador is the Ecuadorian Football Federation (Spanish: Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol), also known as FEF or Ecuafútbol. It runs all national football tournaments and manages the national football teams. Its seat is in Guayaquil. In addition, there are 18 provincial association throughout the country.
Club football is the most popular spectator sport in the country. The top-flight league in the country is the Serie A, followed by the Serie B. Both contain a small number of clubs compared to other leagues across the continent (12 each). Both tournaments are organized by FEF. But, for a considerable part of its history, club football was regionalized.
The first amateur tournaments in Ecuador were organized by two regional leagues: one in Guayas for clubs in Guayaquil, and one in Pichincha for clubs in Quito and Ambato. Both held their inaugural tournaments in 1922. Both leagues stayed amateur until 1952, when the Guayas league held their first professional tournament. The Pichincha league, called Interandino followed suit in 1954. Both leagues stayed as the top-flight leagues in the country until 1967, when the status of top-flight was ceded to the national tournament.
No national tournament existed until 1957 when the winners of both regional championships played against each other for the title. The first national title was won by Emelec. After a two year hiatus, the national tournament returned in 1960 and has continued into the present. The Costa and Interandino Championships ceased to exist as a top-level tournament in 1967.
While typically a competitive country, clubs from Ecuador have had little international success. The first club to reach the finals of an international tournament was Barcelona, when they reached the finals of the 1990 and 1998 Copa Libertadores; they lost both. In 2001, Emelec became the second club to reach the finals of an international tournament at the 2001 Copa Merconorte, which they also lost. In 2008, LDU Quito became the first club to win an international title by becoming the 2008 Copa Libertadores champion. LDU Quito also went to win the Recopa Sudamericana and the Copa Sudamericana, both in 2009. To date, those are the only international club titles won by an Ecuadorian team.
The Ecuadorian national football team is controlled by the Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol and represents Ecuador in international football competitions. It was for a long time one of the weaker teams in CONMEBOL, but it has recently had more success, making their first World Cup qualification in 2002, and qualifying again for the 2006 World Cup in which they made it to the last 16, losing to England by 1 goal.
Although without any major tournament achievements until the current millennium, Ecuador was never short of footballing talent,producing players such as Alberto Spencer, Jose Villafuerte, Carlos Raffo and Antonio Valencia. Ecuador has qualified for the World Cup twice in 2002 and 2006 but it has yet to win a Copa América.Their best finish in Copa América was fourth in 1993 (they also finished fourth in the 'extra' South American Championship in 1959).
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