Latin American complexities – Part Four: Ecuador
And so to Ecuador.
With three stages, bonus points and a two-leg final, Ecuador’s championship is a brave attempt to keep as many teams in with a chance of winning the title for as long as possible. In fact, getting knocked out takes some doing.
In the first stage, the 12 teams play each other twice and the top four qualify for the third (repeat third) stage. They also carry through bonus points — three for the winners, two for the second-placed side and one for the third-placed side.
If a team happens to finish bottom of the first stage, there’s no need to fret because there’s still the second stage to come.
This time, teams are divided into two groups of six and the top two in each also qualify for the third stage (joining the four teams from the first stage). Should one of these four teams have also finished in the top four of the first stage, the next-best team will also go through. One bonus point is awarded for the winner of each group.
The bottom two teams over the first two stages combined are relegated.
Meanwhile, the lucky eight who reached the third stage are divided into two groups of four and the winners of each group meet in a two-leg final.
There are several drawbacks to this system. A team which qualifies for the third stage in the first stage will have little to play for in the second stage, apart from one measly bonus point. And it’s quite possible for the eighth-best team over the first two stages to win the title.
As with Peru, it does avoid the possibility of one team running away with the tournament, though.
PHOTO: Deportivo Quito’s Oswaldo Ibarra celebrates after his team scored against Universitario de Deportes during their Copa Sudamericana soccer match in Quito August 5, 2008. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja