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The Apertura [apeɾˈtuɾa] and Clausura [klawˈsuɾa] tournaments is a split season format for sports leagues. It is a relatively recent innovation for many Latin American football leagues in which the traditional association football season from August to May is divided in two sections per season, each with its own champion. Apertura and Clausura are the Spanish words for "opening" and "closing". In French-speaking Haiti, these are known as the Ouverture and the Fermeture, while in English-speaking Belize, they are respectively the Opening and Closing seasons. The North American Soccer League (NASL) adopted a split season in 2013; the season is divided into a Spring Championship and Fall Championship.
In an organized sports league, a typical season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session: for example, in Major League Baseball the season lasts approximately from April to October. In other team sports, like association football or basketball, it is generally from August or September to May although in some countries - such as Northern Europe or East Asia - the season starts in the spring and finishes in autumn, mainly due to weather conditions encountered during the winter.
A sports league is a group of sports teams that compete against each other in a specific sport. At its simplest, it may be a local group of amateur athletes who form teams among themselves and compete on weekends; at its most complex, it can be an international professional league making large amounts of money and involving dozens of teams and thousands of players.
Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Western Hemisphere where Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French are predominantly spoken; it is broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America. The term "Latin America" was first used in an 1856 conference with the title "Initiative of the America. Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics", by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was used also by Napoleon III's French government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas, along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed, including the Spanish-speaking portions of the United States Today, areas of Canada and the United States where Spanish, Portuguese and French are predominant are typically not included in definitions of Latin America.
The Apertura is held in the first half of the calendar year in Colombia, Haiti and Paraguay while it is held in the second half of the calendar year in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
The Categoría Primera A, commonly referred to as Liga Águila due to sponsorship by brewery company Bavaria, 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 6th in the world and 2nd in South America by the IFFHS in its list "The Strongest National League in The World 2017".
Ligue Haïtienne, is a Haitian professional league, governed by the Haitian Football Federation, for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the Haitian football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Division 2.
The División Profesional de la Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol, also known as the Primera División[pɾiˈmeɾa ðiβiˈsjon], or due to sponsorship reasons Copa TIGO[ˈkopa ˈtiɣo], is the top-flight professional football league in Paraguay. Currently, there are 12 teams in the first division.
The words Apertura and Clausura are used in most Latin American countries. Some, however, use different terminology:
In most leagues, each tournament constitutes a national championship in itself. On the other hand, in the leagues of Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, the winners of the Apertura and Clausura play each other in a playoff for the season title, or there is a final stage where teams qualify based on placements in the Apertura and Clausura. Thus, two championship titles are awarded per year in the first group of leagues, and only one in the second. In Mexico and Colombia, for instance, the winners of each tournament play each other at the beginning of the following season for another title, but this is a rather minor season curtain-raiser, akin to national Super Cups in European leagues. Some Apertura and Clausura tournaments also have second stages to decide the winner.
The Superliga Colombiana is an official competition contested between the winners of the Apertura and Finalización tournaments of the Colombian Categoría Primera A. The tournament is organized by the División Mayor del Fútbol Colombiano, DIMAYOR. The competition was created in 2012 and it is played by the end of January of every year. Its current champion is Junior.
The Union of European Football Associations is the administrative body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, although several member states are primarily or entirely located in Asia. It is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.
In leagues with 12 or fewer teams, each Apertura and Clausura has a double round-robin format, as a means to fill in the gaps caused by the lack of elimination cup competitions as in most European countries. In leagues with 16 or more teams, each tournament has a single round-robin format.
Relegations, if any, are done on an aggregate basis; usually the combined table for both tournaments determine relegation placements. In some leagues, the average points over the previous two or three seasons are used to determine relegation.
Peru abolished its Apertura and Clausura format after the 2008 season but brought it back for the 2014 season. Ecuador adopted the Apertura and Clausura in 2005 featuring two champions in the season, however, its subsequent tournaments renamed the Apertura and Clausura as first and second stages, respectively, with the top placed teams advancing to a third stage to determine the champion and international qualification. Starting in 2009, the Ecuadorian championships were decided by a final between stage or group winners, maintaining the half-year tournament format. Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona proposed in December 2008 the return to a single championship per season format,and at the conclusion of the 2014 Primera season this happened, with the 2015 season taking a European style year long season from February to December. The AFA later decided to change its season to one spanning two calendar years; as such, the 2016 season is an abbreviated tournament held from February to May, followed by an August-to-June season from 2016–17 forward.
The Argentine Football Association is the governing body of football in Argentina based in Buenos Aires. It organises the lower divisions of Argentine league system, including domestic cups Copa Argentina and Supercopa Argentina. The body also manages all the Argentina national teams, including the Senior, U-20, U-17 and Olympic squads. Secondly, it also organizes the amateur leagues for women, children, youth, futsal, and other local leagues, as well as the national women's team.
Julio Humberto Grondona was an Argentine football executive. He served as president of the Argentine Football Association from 1979 until his death in 2014. He also served as Senior Vice-President of FIFA.
The 2014 Torneo de Transición or Torneo Doctor Ramón Carrillo was the 124th season of top-flight professional football in Argentina. The season was scheduled to start on August 1, 2014 but was postponed after the death of Julio Grondona, president of the AFA on July 30. Finally, it began on August 8, 2014 and ended on December 14, 2014. Originally the last match of the tournament was scheduled on December 7 but as River Plate played the finals of the 2014 Copa Sudamericana the matches Racing-Godoy Cruz and River Plate-Quilmes were played on December 14. Twenty teams compete in the league, seventeen returning from the 2013–14 season and three promoted from the 2013–14 Primera B Nacional.
The Premier League of Belize, created in 2012 by the merger of two rival top-level leagues, began a split season in 2012–13. The Opening Season takes place in the second half of the calendar year, with the Closing Season following in the first half of the next calendar year. Like most Latin American leagues, it crowns two separate champions in each season. However, its format is significantly different from that of most other leagues, being more similar to the system used by Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada.
The Premier League of Belize is the highest competitive football league in Belize. It was founded on 28 December 2011 after the merger between the Belize Premier Football League and the Super League of Belize.
Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation which represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The league comprises 24 teams—21 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada and constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues in both countries. The regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games; the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. Fourteen teams compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs through October and November, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League. The league plans to expand to 27 teams with the addition of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC in 2020 and Austin FC in 2021, with further plans to expand to 28 teams by 2022 and 30 teams at a later date.
In the first split season (2012–13), the league's 12 teams were divided into two six-team zones. During the first half of the season, every team played a double round-robin within its zone, plus single games against four teams from the opposite zone, resulting in a 14-game schedule. The top two teams from each zone qualified for a playoff round, with the top team from each zone matched against the second-place team from the other zone in the two-legged semifinals. The semifinal winners advanced to a two-legged final. In the second half of the season, only eight of the initial 12 teams competed; all teams played a double round-robin in that half of the season, followed by a four-team knockout playoff (again two-legged throughout).
The number of teams participating in the top flight dropped to seven for the 2013–14 season. Each half of that season will have the same format as the 2013 Closing Season.
The Brazilian national league is a notable tournament in Latin America not to split the season into two parts, using a single-season double round-robin format to decide the champions, similar to those in European leagues, though played between May and December. Brazilian clubs also participate in the state leagues from January to April, some of which do feature a split season format. Brazil also has, unlike most Latin American nations, a national cup.
For most of its history (except in 1996) the J. League in Japan had a similar system for its first division, although it was called 1st Stage and 2nd Stage. The seasons became unified in 2005, partially to avoid conflicts with the Emperor's Cup. It briefly resumed the same format for 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The K-League of South Korea also had the same system in 1984, 1986, 1995, 2004, 2005, and 2006. In 2007, it again became unified because of confusion among fans.
The NASL adopted a split-season format in 2013, divided into Spring and Fall Championships. Following the traditional standard for soccer in the United States and Canada, the season is entirely contained within a calendar year. It follows a format more similar to that of Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela — each part of the season is conducted in a double round-robin format, with the winner of each part of the season advancing to a championship final known as the Soccer Bowl.
In Belgium a large reform of the Belgian football league system was performed in 2016, which reduced the number of professional teams to 24, with only 8 teams remaining at the second level, called Belgian First Division B. From the 2016–17 season, the 8 teams will play two tournaments, with the winners of both tournaments playing a two-legged playoff to determine the overall champion.
All the following leagues are their country's top national division (Div 1) unless otherwise indicated.
|Primera División||Both (Since 1991–92)||European (August–June)||1990–91–2014|
|Canadian Premier League||One||American (April–October)||2019–present|
|First Division B (Div 2)||One||European (August–May)||2016–17–present|
|Premier League||Both (Since 2012–13)||European (August–May)||2012–13–present|
|Liga de Fútbol Profesional||Both (Since 2003)||European (August–May)||1991–present|
|Primera División||Both||European (July–June)|
|Primera A||Both||American (February–December)||2002–present|
|Primera División||Both||European (August–May)||2007–08–present|
|Serie A||Both||American (February–December)||2005|
|Primera División||Both||European (August–June)||1998–99–present|
|Liga Nacional de Fútbol||Both||European (July–May)||1999–00–present|
|Elite League||One||European (September–June)||2015–16–present|
|Ligue Haïtienne||Both (Since 2002, except in 2005–06)||American (April–November)||2002, 2003, 2004–05, 2007–present|
|Liga Nacional de Fútbol||Both (Since 1997–98)||European (August–May)||1997–98–present|
|J1 League||One||American (March–November)||1993–1995, 1997–2005, 2015–2016|
|Japan Football League (Div 4)||One||American (March–November)||2014–2018|
|Liga MX||Both||European (July–May)||1996–97–present|
|Liga de Fútbol||Both (Since 2007)||European (July–May)||2001–present|
|Primera División||Both (Since 2007)||American (February–December)||1996–present|
|Primera División||One||American (February–November)||1997–2008, 2014–present|
|K League Classic||One||American (March–November)||1984, 1986, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2006|
|Primera División||One||European (August–June)||1994–present|
|NASL (unsanctioned)||One||American (April–November)||2013–present|
|Primera División||One||American (January–December)||1996–97–present|
In baseball, the Double-A Southern and Texas Leagues in the United States both use a similar system, dividing the March–October regular season in half, with records being cleared mid-season, and the top teams mid-season and at the end of the season clinching spots in the playoff for the league pennant (the remainder of playoff slots being filled by wild cards). This system is used in some Single-A leagues, as well. The March–September Chinese Professional Baseball League and winter Mexican Pacific League also follow the same structure, using a team's win record in each stage to determine which advance to the playoffs. Japan's Pacific League had a split season format from 1973 to 1982, with a mini-playoff between the two winners to determine the league's champion.
While Little League Baseball does not mandate any specific scheduling format to be used by local leagues, it recommends dividing the regular season in half and having the first-half winner play against the second-half winner at the end of the season for the championship.
The Philippine Basketball Association also conducts a split season similar in many ways to the Apertura and Clausura.
All League of Legends leagues operate on a split-season system, with one split in the spring and one in the summer. The fall is reserved for each league's playoffs and the League of Legends World Championship. Qualification to the World Championship is decided through two avenues: winning the second split of the season, or, for the five biggest leagues, through a system that awards points based on a team's performance in each of the splits. Unlike most other split-season formats, the summer split is more important than the spring split; coming second in the summer split is worth as many points as winning the spring split.
The first four seasons of the National Hockey League used a half-season system, with the winners of the two half-seasons playing in the league final.
The playoffs, play-offs, postseason and/or finals of a sports league are a competition played after the regular season by the top competitors to determine the league champion or a similar accolade. Depending on the league, the playoffs may be either a single game, a series of games, or a tournament, and may use a single-elimination system or one of several other different playoff formats. Playoff, in regard to international fixtures, is to qualify or progress to the next round of a competition or tournament.
The Primera División of the Liga de Fútbol Profesional, more commonly known as La Liga Mayor or La Primera, is the top professional football league in El Salvador.
The Primera División, named Superliga Argentina since the 2017–18 season, is a professional football league in Argentina, organised by the homonymous entity, that is administrated independently and has its own statute. Nevertheless, the Superliga is contractually linked with the main football body, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) that organized all the championships from 1893 to 2017.
Liga de Ascenso is the second division of Honduran football; it was founded on 17 December 1979 as Segunda División and renamed Liga de Ascenso on 21 July 2002. The league is divided into 4 groups: Zona Norte y Atlántica, Zona Norte y Occidente, Zona Centro y Sur, Zona Sur y Oriente. The top 2 teams of each group qualifies for the liguilla (play-offs). Each season is divided into two tournaments, apertura (opening) and clausura (closing). The champion of the opening and closing tournament, compete for the promotion to Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Honduras in a two-legged match.
The Liga Panameña de Fútbol (LPF) is the top division football league in Panama. Until 2009, the league was named "Asociación Nacional Pro Fútbol" (ANAPROF).
Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala, formerly known as Liga Mayor "A" is a professional football division in Guatemala, the highest one in the country. It is sanctioned by the Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala. The champion and runner-up teams of the Liga Nacional's official tournaments qualify to participate in international competitions within their regional confederation. Twelve teams currently compose the league and compete for the national title. Comunicaciones and C.S.D. Municipal, both with 30 national titles, are the most successful clubs in the league to date.
The 1997 Torneo Descentralizado was the 82nd season of the top category of Peruvian football (soccer). It was played by 14 teams. The national champion was Alianza Lima, their first title in 19 years.
A split season is a schedule format implemented in a variety of sports leagues. The season is divided into two parts, with the winners of both halves playing each other at the end for the overall championship.
The Apertura and Clausura system was a single round-robin tournament format used for the Argentine Primera División championships. Introduced in 1990-91, it lasted until the 2012-13 season when it was replaced by the "Inicial and Final", a similar tournament.
The 2007 Primera División del Fútbol Profesional Chileno season is the 76th season of top-flight football in Chile. The season is composed of two championship: the Torneo Apertura & Torneo Clasura.
The Copa Libertadores remains the most prestigious competition in South America for clubs, and the Primera División Argentina was the most successful league in the cup's history, having won the competition for 24 times; Independiente has a record seven wins, followed by Boca Juniors with six, Estudiantes (LP) with four, River Plate with three, while Racing Club, Argentinos Juniors, Vélez Sarsfield and San Lorenzo have one apiece.
The 1990–91 Argentine Primera División was the 101st season of top-flight professional football in Argentina. Starting with this season, both Apertura and Clausura tournaments were recognised as separate championships, and no final decider was played between the winners of each tournament. River Plate won the Apertura and Newell's Old Boys won the Clausura.
The Primera División A is the main league competition for women's football in Argentina. The tournament is ruled by the Argentine Football Association (AFA), with its first season held in 1991.
The 2009 Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano season was the 33rd of Bolivia's top-flight professional football league. The season was split into two championships—the Apertura and the Clausura—and the Play-off
The 2009–10 Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala season is the 11th season in which the Apertura and Clausura season is used.
The 2010–11 Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala season is the 12th season in which the Apertura and Clausura season is used.
The 2011–12 CONCACAF Champions League is the 4th edition of the CONCACAF Champions League under its current format, and overall the 47th edition of the premier football club competition organized by CONCACAF, the regional governing body of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The tournament began on July 26, 2011 and finished with the second leg of the final April 25, 2012.
The 2011–12 Primera División Profesional season was the 65th professional season top-flight football league in Mexico. The season was split into two championships—the Torneo Apertura and the Torneo Clausura—each an identical format and each contested by the same eighteen teams.
The 2012–13 Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala season was the 14th season in which the Apertura and Clausura season is used. The season began on 15 July 2012 and ended in May 2013. Comunicaciones won both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments.