It is no secret to anyone how important soccer, football, or futbol is around the world. This sport awakens the deepest passion between its followers especially in the Latin American countries. The participation of the national team in a competition is something that involves the whole nation. If the team wins it is a huge celebration for us, but if the team loses it is a national tragedy for us.
After five months of events, 137 matches, and the participation of 32 of the most important teams in the Latin American continent, the Copa Bridgestone Libertadores de América coordinated by the South American Football Association came to an end on Wednesday, July 27. The tournament is named in honor of the Libertadores, the main leaders of the South American wars of independence against the ancient empires of Spain and Portugal. The clubs that participated in this tournament were from Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Mexico has been a special invite since 1998. The tournament is played for the champion and the runner-up teams of every country, in a random drawing. They have to play two games against each other, one as home and one as the visiting team. The winner advances to the next round, and they go on until they get to the final game.
This is a prestigious tournament because, first, the teams are the best of every country. Second, Bridgestone, the official title sponsor, awards an attractive financial incentive for every round a team wins. Besides that, futbol is a remarkable business, thus this tournament is watched by many fans in Latin America and Europe, being an excellent showcase for the clubs to market their players. Managers and players are committed to put forth their best effort for the spotlight on this grand stage.
A special shout out to the second largest city in the northwest of Colombia, Medellin, and its team Atletico Nacional who played the final games and won against the surprising team Independiente del Valle based in Sangolqui, Ecuador.
The score of the first game played in Quito, Ecuador was 1-1, the scores were made by Orlando Berrio for Atletico Nacional and Arturo Mina for Independiente del Valle. The return game, played in Medellin, Colombia was 1-0 and the score was made by Miguel Angel Borja for Atletico Nacional. For the futbol lovers it was an exciting game, full of technique, tenacity, and strategy where these two teams gave their all to get the goal.
This is the second time Nacional is the champion of La Copa Libertadores, the first time was in 1989 when they beat Olimpia of Paraguay.
Congratulations to Atletico Nacional de Colombia, its managers, and players who made this dream come true for all Colombians.
By Javier Vásquez, Avid Sports Fan, and Sandra Geringer, Acting Director of Sports Studies at the United States Sports Academy.