THE BIRTH OF A CONTINENTAL PASSION
Official competitions among clubs from different countries started in South America in the year 1900 when Francis Chevallier Boutell assumed the presidency of the Argentine Football Association (AFA). He created the Cup Competition and donated the trophy that would be fought over among clubs from Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Montevideo.
COLO COLO AND THE CHAMPIONS CUP
Chilean Luis Valenzuela, president of the Chilean Federation from 1937 and the CSF from January 15, 1939, was one who also worked on making club competitions a reality. In his third presidency of Colo Colo, Robinson Álvarez made known his desire to organize in Santiago the Champions Cup. During February and March of 1948 the competition was played between the champions of each nation’s top national leagues from 1947. Brazilian club Vasco da Gama won the tournament.
THE PROPOSAL TAKES SHAPE
In September of 1958 the new president of the CSF, José Ramos de Freitas (Brazil), sent a telegram to the associations of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile announcing that he would be visiting, in that order, those countries “with the purpose of considering important problems with the leaders of soccer relating to future activities on the continent”.
THE IDEA IS CONSALIDATED IN CARACAS
On July 30, 1959 the CSF summoned a new congress in Caracas, which at that time was the headquarters of the Federation. The part that was most important in the meeting was the creation of the Champions Cup. The original Chilean idea now had the fervent support of Argentina and Brazil.
Finally on August 2, 1959 this extensive meeting made history. With 8 votes in favor and 1 against (Uruguay), there was 1 abstaining (Venezuela), the CSF resolved to create the Champions Cup (the name at that time). A little bit later after this historic meeting between the 27th and 30th of August in 1959 it was decided that the competition would carry the name “Libertadores de América” in honor of the heroes who helped create the nations of South America.
The first game in the history of the tournament took place April 19, 1960 and was played between Uruguayan club Peñarol and Bolivian club Jorge Wilstermann. Peñarol won the game 7-1. Peñarol would go on to win the tournament by beating Olimpia of Paraguay in the final.
The winner of this competition gets to play in the Recopa Sudamericana and the FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament is played annually from January until July. The reigning champion is Corinthians who defeated Boca Juniors. The club with the most titles is Independiente with seven. The all-time leading goal scorer is Ecuadorian Alberto Spencer with 54 goals scored.
The 54th edition of this tournament is now being played among the best clubs from the continent: The Copa Libertadores of América.