Categoría Primera A

The Categoría Primera A (Spanish pronunciation: [kateɣoˈɾi.a pɾiˈmeɾa ˈa]), commonly referred to as Liga BetPlay Dimayor (between 2015 and 2019 Liga Águila)[1] due to sponsorship by online betting company BetPlay, 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.

Liga BetPlay Dimayor
Number of teams19
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toCategoría Primera B
Domestic cup(s)Copa Colombia
Superliga Colombiana
International cup(s)Copa Libertadores
Copa Sudamericana
Current championsDeportes Tolima (3rd title)
Most championshipsAtlético Nacional
(16 titles)
Top goalscorerSergio Galván Rey (224)
TV partnersWin Sports
Current: 2021 season

A total of twenty clubs compete in the league's regular season. División Mayor del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano, better known as DIMAYOR, operates the league system of promotion and relegation for both Categoría Primera A and Categoría Primera B leagues. Since its founding in 1948, fourteen teams have been crowned as Colombian football champions. The most successful club is Atlético Nacional with 16 titles.


Before 1948 there was no professional football league in Colombia. The first clubs were formed in Barranquilla and Bogotá: Barranquilla FC, Polo Club, Escuela Militar and Bartolinos, although the game took a while to develop in popularity.[2] The 1918 Campeonato Nacional was the first tournament played between Colombian clubs, followed by the Copa Centenario Batalla de Boyacá. Independiente Medellín, founded on 15 April 1913, is the oldest club that remains as a professional club.[3] The first tournament was organised by the Colombian Football Federation and DIMAYOR in 1948. Ten teams signed up for this first tournament, paying the required fee of 1,000 pesos). Two teams each signed on from Bogotá, Cali, Manizales, and Pereira, plus one from Barranquilla.[4] 252 players were registered for that year's tournament, 182 of which were Colombians, 13 were Argentine, 8 Peruvian, 5 Uruguayan, 2 Chilean, 2 Ecuadorian, 1 Dominican, and 1 Spanish.[4]

Soon after the league's foundation, disputes between Adefútbol (the body governing amateur football in Colombia) and DIMAYOR (the organizing body behind the new national league) erupted. DIMAYOR broke away from Adefútbol, announcing that it would operate independently of FIFA rules and regulations. In response, FIFA sanctioned Colombian football, banning the national team and all its clubs from international competition. This period, which lasted from 1949 to 1954, is known as El Dorado.

Far from being a dark time in Colombian football, this was its golden age. No longer required to pay transfer fees to clubs from other nations, Colombian clubs began importing stars from all over South America and Europe. The most aggressive signer of international players was Millonarios, which won consecutive championships with stars such as Alfredo di Stéfano. Attendances boomed, and the expanding appetite for club competitions resulted in the creation of the Copa Colombia in 1950. That knockout competition was played sporadically over the next 58 years and only became an annual tournament in 2008.[5] Although the stars returned to their nations when Colombia rejoined the international fold in 1954, the era was never forgotten.[6]

In 1968 the league followed the pattern emerging in South America by replacing its year-long tournament with two shorter ones. From this point forward, Colombian clubs would compete in two tournaments a year; the Apertura from February to June and the Finalización from July to December, which became independent championships in 2002. Another league restructuring came in 1991, with the addition of second and third divisions. The third division had its 2002 edition cancelled for economic reasons, and stopped awarding promotion to the professional tiers in 2003 until it was finally dropped in 2010.


The current format of Colombian football was adopted for the 2019 season. The top flight features 20 teams, all of which play through the Apertura and Finalización tournaments each year. Both tournaments are conducted according to an identical three-stage format.

The first stage is conducted on a single round-robin basis, with each team playing the other teams once for a total of 19 matches. The top eight teams then advance to a knockout round consisting of two groups, each team playing six times in a round-robin format. The two leaders of each group advance to the final, which is played in a home and away leg fashion.

Relegation to Categoría Primera B is determined by averaging the point totals achieved by teams over the previous three seasons. Each year, the bottom two teams drop out and are replaced by the top two from Primera B.[7]

Current teams

Teams for the 2021 season

Team City Stadium Capacity Head Coach First season
in the Primera A
Last title
Águilas Doradas Rionegro Alberto Grisales 14,000 Francesco Stifano 2011 None
Alianza Petrolera Barrancabermeja Daniel Villa Zapata 10,400 Hubert Bodhert 2013 None
América de Cali Cali Pascual Guerrero 33,130 Juan Carlos Osorio 1948 2020
Atlético Bucaramanga Bucaramanga Alfonso López 28,000 Óscar Upegui 1949 None
Atlético Huila Neiva Guillermo Plazas Alcid 22,000 Dayron Pérez 1993 None
Atlético Nacional Medellín Atanasio Girardot 40,043 Alejandro Restrepo 1948 2017–I
Deportes Quindío Armenia Centenario 21,500 Óscar Quintabani 1951 1956
Deportes Tolima Ibagué Manuel Murillo Toro 28,100 Hernán Torres 1955 2021–I
Deportivo Cali Cali Deportivo Cali 44,000 Alfredo Arias 1948 2015–I
Deportivo Pasto Pasto Libertad 20,665 Giovanny Ruiz 1999 2006–I
Deportivo Pereira Pereira Hernán Ramírez Villegas 30,297 Alexis Márquez 1949 None
Envigado Envigado Polideportivo Sur 11,000 Alberto Suárez 1992 None
Independiente Medellín Medellín Atanasio Girardot 40,043 Hernán Darío Gómez 1948 2016–I
Jaguares Montería Jaraguay 12,000 César Torres 2015 None
Junior Barranquilla Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez 49,692 Luis Amaranto Perea 1948 2019–I
La Equidad Bogotá Metropolitano de Techo 8,000 Alexis García 2007 None
Millonarios Bogotá Nemesio Camacho 36,343 Alberto Gamero 1948 2017–II
Once Caldas Manizales Palogrande 32,000 Eduardo Lara 1948 2010–II
Patriotas Tunja La Independencia 20,630 Jorge Luis Bernal 2012 None
Santa Fe Bogotá Nemesio Camacho 36,343 Harold Rivera 1948 2016–II

Seasons by club

This is the complete list of the clubs that have taken part in at least one Categoría Primera A season, founded in 1948, until the 2021 season.[8][9] Teams that currently play are indicated in bold.


The same trophy has been used to commemorate the annual champion since 1948. The original stays at DIMAYOR headquarters and is engraved with all the names of the champion clubs. A replica is given to the winner.[10]

Clubs in international competitions



As of 13 March 2016[11]
Rank Name Years Appearances
1 Gabriel Berdugo 1973–1981773
2 Alexis García 1980–1998723
3 Arturo Segovia 1963–1979706
4 Jorge Bermúdez 1989–96, 2005, 2006–07682
5 Misael Flórez 1962–1981652

Top scorers

As of 13 March 2016[12]
Rank Name Years Goals
1 Sergio Galván Rey 1996–2011224[13]
2 Iván Valenciano 1988–2009217
3 Hugo Lóndero 1969–1981211
4 Oswaldo Palavecino 1975–1985204
5 Jorge Ramírez Gallego 1962–1975201
6 Omar Devanni 1962–1975198
7 Víctor Aristizábal 1990–2007187
8 Arnoldo Iguarán 1977–1997186
9 Willington Ortiz 1972–1988184
10 José Verdún 1962–1971184

Champions by seasons

The only tournament that was not awarded to a champion occurred on 1989, after the assassination of referee Álvaro Ortega on October 1 in Medellín. All games, post-season games and international representation for the following year were cancelled.[14][15]


Seasons Champions (title count) Runners-up Leading goalscorer(s)[16]
1948Santa Fe (1)Junior Alfredo Castillo (Millonarios; 31 goals)
1949Millonarios (1)Deportivo Cali Pedro Cabillón (Millonarios; 42 goals)
1950Deportes Caldas (1)Millonarios Casimiro Ávalos (Deportivo Pereira; 27 goals)
1951Millonarios (2)Boca Juniors Alfredo Di Stéfano (Millonarios; 31 goals)
1952Millonarios (3)Boca Juniors Alfredo Di Stéfano (Millonarios; 19 goals)
1953Millonarios (4)Atlético Quindío Mario Garelli (Atlético Quindío; 20 goals)
1954Atlético Nacional (1)Atlético Quindío Carlos Alberto Gambina (Atlético Nacional; 21 goals)
1955Independiente Medellín (1)Atlético Nacional Felipe Marino (Independiente Medellín; 22 goals)
1956Atlético Quindío (1)Millonarios Jaime Gutiérrez (Atlético Quindío; 21 goals)
1957Independiente Medellín (2)Deportes Tolima José Vicente Grecco (Independiente Medellín; 30 goals)
1958Santa Fe (2)Millonarios José Américo Montanini (Atlético Bucaramanga; 36 goals)
1959Millonarios (5)Independiente Medellín Felipe Marino (Cúcuta Deportivo / Independiente Medellín; 35 goals)
1960Santa Fe (3)América de Cali Walter Marcolini (Deportivo Cali; 30 goals)
1961Millonarios (6)Independiente Medellín Alberto Perazzo (Santa Fe; 32 goals)
1962Millonarios (7)Deportivo Cali José Omar Verdún (Cúcuta Deportivo; 36 goals)
1963Millonarios (8)Santa Fe Omar Devani (Atlético Bucaramanga; 36 goals)
José Omar Verdún (Cúcuta Deportivo; 36 goals)
1964Millonarios (9)Cúcuta Deportivo Omar Devani (Unión Magdalena / Atlético Bucaramanga; 28 goals)
1965Deportivo Cali (1)Atlético Nacional Perfecto Rodríguez (Independiente Medellín; 38 goals)
1966Santa Fe (4)Independiente Medellín Omar Devani (Santa Fe; 31 goals)
1967Deportivo Cali (2)Millonarios José María Ferrero (Millonarios; 38 goals)
1968Unión Magdalena (1)Deportivo Cali José María Ferrero (Millonarios; 32 goals)
1969Deportivo Cali (3)América de Cali Hugo Lóndero (América de Cali; 25 goals)
1970Deportivo Cali (4)Junior José María Ferrero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 27 goals)
Walter Sossa (Santa Fe; 27 goals)
1971Santa Fe (5)Atlético Nacional Hugo Lóndero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 30 goals)
Apolinar Paniagua (Deportivo Pereira; 30 goals)
1972Millonarios (10)Deportivo Cali Hugo Lóndero (Cúcuta Deportivo; 27 goals)
1973Atlético Nacional (2)Millonarios Nelson Silva Pacheco (Cúcuta Deportivo / Junior; 36 goals)
1974Deportivo Cali (5)Atlético Nacional Víctor Ephanor (Junior; 33 goals)
1975Santa Fe (6)Millonarios Jorge Ramón Cáceres (Deportivo Pereira; 35 goals)
1976Atlético Nacional (3)Deportivo Cali Miguel Angel Converti (Millonarios; 33 goals)
1977Junior (1)Deportivo Cali Oswaldo Marcial Palavecino (Atlético Nacional; 33 goals)
1978Millonarios (11)Deportivo Cali Oswaldo Marcial Palavecino (Atlético Nacional; 36 goals)
1979América de Cali (1)Santa Fe Juan José Irigoyén (Millonarios; 36 goals)
1980Junior (2)Deportivo Cali Sergio Cierra (Deportivo Pereira; 26 goals)
1981Atlético Nacional (4)Deportes Tolima Víctor Hugo del Río (Deportes Tolima; 29 goals)
1982América de Cali (2)Deportes Tolima Miguel Oswaldo González (Atlético Bucaramanga; 27 goals)
1983América de Cali (3)Junior Hugo Gottardi (Santa Fe; 29 goals)
1984América de Cali (4)Millonarios Hugo Gottardi (Independiente Santa Fe; 23 goals)
1985América de Cali (5)Deportivo Cali Miguel Oswaldo González (Atlético Bucaramanga; 34 goals)
1986América de Cali (6)Deportivo Cali Héctor Ramón Sossa (Independiente Medellín; 23 goals)
1987Millonarios (12)América de Cali Jorge Aravena (Deportivo Cali; 23 goals)
1988Millonarios (13)Atlético Nacional Sergio Angulo (Santa Fe; 29 goals)
1989Championship not awarded
1990América de Cali (7)Atlético Nacional Antony de Ávila (América de Cali; 25 goals)
1991Atlético Nacional (5)América de Cali Iván Valenciano (Junior; 30 goals)
1992América de Cali (8)Atlético Nacional John Jairo Tréllez (Atlético Nacional; 25 goals)
1993Junior (3)Independiente Medellín Miguel Guerrero (Junior; 34 goals)
1994Atlético Nacional (6)Millonarios Rubén Darío Hernández (Independiente Medellín / Deportivo Pereira / América de Cali; 32 goals)
1995Junior (4)América de Cali Iván Valenciano (Junior; 24 goals)
1995–96Deportivo Cali (6)Millonarios Iván Valenciano (Junior; 36 goals)
1996–97América de Cali (9)Atlético Bucaramanga Hamilton Ricard (Deportivo Cali; 36 goals)
1998Deportivo Cali (7)Once Caldas Víctor Bonilla (Deportivo Cali; 37 goals)
1999Atlético Nacional (7)América de Cali Sergio Galván Rey (Once Caldas; 26 goals)
2000América de Cali (10)Junior Carlos Alberto Castro (Millonarios; 24 goals)
2001América de Cali (11)Independiente Medellín Carlos Alberto Castro (Millonarios; 29 goals)
Jorge Horacio Serna (Independiente Medellín; 29 goals)
2002AperturaAmérica de Cali (12)Atlético Nacional Luis Fernando Zuleta (Unión Magdalena; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónIndependiente Medellín (3)Deportivo Pasto Orlando Ballesteros (Atlético Bucaramanga; 13 goals)
Milton Rodríguez (Deportivo Pereira; 13 goals)
2003AperturaOnce Caldas (2)Junior Arnulfo Valentierra (Once Caldas; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónDeportes Tolima (1)Deportivo Cali Léider Preciado (Deportivo Cali; 17 goals)
2004AperturaIndependiente Medellín (4)Atlético Nacional Sergio Herrera (América de Cali; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónJunior (5)Atlético Nacional Leonardo Fabio Moreno (América de Cali; 15 goals)
Léider Preciado (Santa Fe; 15 goals)
2005AperturaAtlético Nacional (8)Santa Fe Víctor Aristizábal (Atlético Nacional; 16 goals)
FinalizaciónDeportivo Cali (8)Real Cartagena Jámerson Rentería (Real Cartagena; 12 goals)
Hugo Rodallega (Deportivo Cali; 12 goals)
2006AperturaDeportivo Pasto (1)Deportivo Cali Jorge Díaz Moreno (Cúcuta Deportivo; 15 goals)
FinalizaciónCúcuta Deportivo (1)Deportes Tolima Diego Álvarez (Independiente Medellín; 11 goals)
Jhon Charría (Deportes Tolima; 11 goals)
2007AperturaAtlético Nacional (9)Atlético Huila Fredy Montero (Atlético Huila; 13 goals)
Sergio Galván Rey (Atlético Nacional; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónAtlético Nacional (10)La Equidad Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas; 16 goals)
2008AperturaBoyacá Chicó (1)América de Cali Miguel Caneo (Boyacá Chicó; 13 goals)
Iván Velásquez (Deportes Quindío; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónAmérica de Cali (13)Independiente Medellín Fredy Montero (Deportivo Cali; 16 goals)
2009AperturaOnce Caldas (3)Junior Teófilo Gutiérrez (Junior; 16 goals)
FinalizaciónIndependiente Medellín (5)Atlético Huila Jackson Martínez (Independiente Medellín; 18 goals)
2010AperturaJunior (6)La Equidad Carlos Bacca (Junior; 12 goals)
Carlos Rentería (La Equidad; 12 goals)
FinalizaciónOnce Caldas (4)Deportes Tolima Wilder Medina (Deportes Tolima; 16 goals)
Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas; 16 goals)
2011AperturaAtlético Nacional (11)La Equidad Carlos Rentería (Atlético Nacional; 12 goals)
FinalizaciónJunior (7)Once Caldas Carlos Bacca (Junior; 12 goals)
2012AperturaSanta Fe (7)Deportivo Pasto Robin Ramírez (Deportes Tolima; 13 goals)
FinalizaciónMillonarios (14)Independiente Medellín Henry Hernández (Cúcuta Deportivo; 9 goals)
Carmelo Valencia (La Equidad; 9 goals)
Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 9 goals)
2013AperturaAtlético Nacional (12)Santa Fe Wilder Medina (Santa Fe; 12 goals)
FinalizaciónAtlético Nacional (13)Deportivo Cali Dayro Moreno (Millonarios; 16 goals)
Luis Carlos Ruiz (Junior; 16 goals)
2014AperturaAtlético Nacional (14)Junior Dayro Moreno (Millonarios; 12 goals)
FinalizaciónSanta Fe (8)Independiente Medellín Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 16 goals)
2015AperturaDeportivo Cali (9)Independiente Medellín Fernando Uribe (Millonarios; 15 goals)
FinalizaciónAtlético Nacional (15)Junior Jefferson Duque (Atlético Nacional; 15 goals)
2016AperturaIndependiente Medellín (6)Junior Miguel Borja (Cortuluá; 19 goals)
FinalizaciónSanta Fe (9)Deportes Tolima Ayron del Valle (Millonarios; 12 goals)
2017AperturaAtlético Nacional (16)Deportivo Cali Dayro Moreno (Atlético Nacional; 14 goals)
FinalizaciónMillonarios (15)Santa Fe Yimmi Chará (Junior; 11 goals)
Ayron del Valle (Millonarios; 11 goals)
Dayro Moreno (Atlético Nacional; 11 goals)
Carmelo Valencia (La Equidad; 11 goals)
2018AperturaDeportes Tolima (2)Atlético Nacional Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 12 goals)
FinalizaciónJunior (8)Independiente Medellín Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 20 goals)
2019AperturaJunior (9)Deportivo Pasto Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 21 goals)
FinalizaciónAmérica de Cali (14)Junior Germán Cano (Independiente Medellín; 13 goals)
Michael Rangel (América de Cali; 13 goals)
2020América de Cali (15)Santa Fe Miguel Borja (Junior; 14 goals)
2021AperturaDeportes Tolima (3)Millonarios Jefferson Duque (Atlético Nacional; 11 goals)
Fernando Uribe (Millonarios; 11 goals)
Diego Herazo (La Equidad; 11 goals)

Source for champions and runners-up by season: RSSSF[17]

List of champions

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years Runners-up years
Atlético Nacional16111954, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2005–I, 2007–I, 2007–II, 2011–I, 2013–I, 2013–II, 2014–I, 2015–II, 2017–I1955, 1965, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2002–I, 2004–I, 2004–II, 2018–I
Millonarios15101949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1972, 1978, 1987, 1988, 2012–II, 2017–II1950, 1956, 1958, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1984, 1994, 1995–96, 2021–I
América de Cali1571979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1996–97, 2000, 2001, 2002–I, 2008–II, 2019–II, 20201960, 1969, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2008–I
Deportivo Cali9141965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1995–96, 1998, 2005–II, 2015–I1949, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1986, 2003–II, 2006–I, 2013–II, 2017–I
Junior9101977, 1980, 1993, 1995, 2004–II, 2010–I, 2011–II, 2018–II, 2019–I1948, 1970, 1983, 2000, 2003–I, 2009–I, 2014–I, 2015–II, 2016–I, 2019–II
Santa Fe961948, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1971, 1975, 2012–I, 2014–II, 2016–II1963, 1979, 2005–I, 2013–I, 2017–II, 2020
Independiente Medellín6101955, 1957, 2002–II, 2004–I, 2009–II, 2016–I1959, 1961, 1966, 1993, 2001, 2008–II, 2012–II, 2014–II, 2015–I, 2018–II
Once Caldas421950, 2003–I, 2009–I, 2010–II1998, 2011–II
Deportes Tolima362003–II, 2018–I, 2021–I1957, 1981, 1982, 2006–II, 2010–II, 2016–II
Deportivo Pasto132006–I2002–II, 2012–I, 2019–I
Deportes Quindío1219561953, 1954
Cúcuta Deportivo112006–II1964
Boyacá Chicó12008–I
Unión Magdalena11968
La Equidad32007–II, 2010–I, 2011–I
Atlético Huila22007–I, 2009–II
Boca Juniors21951, 1952
Real Cartagena12005–II
Atlético Bucaramanga11996–97

Source: RSSSF


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  2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. Ruíz Bonilla, Guillermo (2008). La gran historia del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano. Ediciones Dayscript. pp. 12–14, 19. ISBN 978-958-987-1300.
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  10. Caracol Radio, ed. (14 July 2012). "Estos son los trofeos que reciben los campeones" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  11. " - Imprimir".
  12. "¿Marca inalcanzable?". Liga Postobón (in Spanish). 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  13. "Hace 20 años empezó la historia de Sergio Galván Rey en el Once Caldas". La Patria (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2016-01-29. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  14. Ruiz Bonilla, Guillermo (October 2008). La gran historia del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano [The Grand History of Colombian Professional Football] (in Spanish). Ediciones Dayscript. p. 223. ISBN 978-958-98713-0-0.
  15. "Colombia 1989".
  16. Arteaga, José; Ballesteros, Frank (March 6, 2008). "Colombian League Top Scorers". website. RSSSF. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  17. Juan Pablo Andres and Frank Ballesteros, 22 May 2014. "Colombia - List of Champions and Runners-Up". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 September 2014.