Which is Latin America’s most complex championship? Peru
Peru’s new system, introduced after the league increased the number of teams from 12 to 16, is particularly curious.
The “Decentralised” championship, as it is known, begins with the 16 teams playing each other twice in the conventional style. For most people, with matches being played from the jungle of Iquitos to the dizzy heights of the central Andes, that would be enough. But the Peruvian league has decided to follow this up with a sort of playoff system.
The difference with this playoff is that everybody qualifies: the teams which finish in odd positions (first, third, fifth etc) go into one group while those finishing in an even position will go into another. (Fortunately, the teams carry through their points total to the group stage, otherwise the initial phase would have been merely an academic exercise).
The winners of each group then meet in an end-of-season final. Apparently, the motive for the change was the wish to have a final and to stop a team running away with the title with several rounds of matches to spare.
The downside is that a team could find themselves having to play a two-leg final against opponents who accumulated far fewer points over the regular season.
Nolberto Solano has just returned home after 12 years playing abroad in Argentina, Greece and England. He must be wondering what has hit him.
Next time we’ll look at Uruguay.
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