South American Championship of Champions

The South American Championship of Champions (Spanish: Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones,[1] Portuguese: Campeonato Sul-Americano de Campeões[2]) was a football competition played in Santiago, Chile in 1948 and the first continental-wide clubs football tournament in South America. Hosted and organized by Chilean club Colo Colo with the aid of then president of CONMEBOL Luis Valenzuela, it was played between February 11 and March 17. Brazil's Vasco da Gama won the competition after earning the most points in the round-robin tournament.

South American Championship
of Champions
Official poster
Abolished1948; 75 years ago (1948)
RegionSouth America
Number of teams7
Related competitionsCopa Libertadores
Last championsBrazil Vasco da Gama
Most successful club(s)Brazil Vasco da Gama
(1 title)

The tournament was the first tournament ever played to determine the South American club champion,[3] and thus is seen as the precursor to the Copa Libertadores[4] and is considered, along with the Copa Aldao (also named "Copa Río de La Plata"), as an important stepping stone towards its creation.[5][6]

Overview edit

Since the early 1910s, Argentine and Uruguayan clubs disputed the Copa Aldao, a tournament played between the national champions of each nation's top national leagues. The great success of this tournament gave birth to the idea of a continental competition.

In 1929, the head executives of Nacional, Roberto Espil and José Usera Bermúdez, idealized a competition between the national champions of each CONMEBOL member. After analyzing the geographical distributions and distances, Espil devised a project in 1946 which also included the runners-up of every national league. However, it was in 1948 that Colo-Colo's head executive, Robinson Alvarez Marín, and CONMEBOL president, Luis Valenzuela, finally set into motion the precursor to the Copa Libertadores: the "South American Championship of Champions", the first ever tournament played in order to determine the champion club of South America.[5][7][8]

The River Plate v Vasco da Gama match

Vasco da Gama, led by figures such as Augusto, Barbosa, Danilo, Friaça, Ademir and Chico, came away with the trophy after a deciding 0–0 draw against River Plate on the last round of matches. The Argentine squad had arrived in Santiago with most of players of legendary team La Máquina such as José Manuel Moreno, Ángel Labruna and Félix Loustau, with the addition of rising star Alfredo Di Stéfano.[9]

Vasco da Gama had already defeated Lítoral and Emelec 1–0 each, thumped Nacional 3–1, trashed Municipal 4–0 and tied 1–1 with the host club Colo-Colo. The competition was as successful financially as it was on the field: the average public attendance per game was 39,549 spectators and the tournament generated a gross of CLP 9,493,483.[10]

Recognitions edit

Inspiration for the creation of the UEFA Champions League edit

The tournament was the first ever continent-wide club football competition based on the "champions cup" model and intended to determine the club champion of a continental area, and thus was the inspiration for the creation of the European Cup in Europe. In interviews to the Brazilian sports TV programme Globo Esporte in 2015 and Chilean newspaper El Mercúrio in 2018, French journalist Jacques Ferran (recognised by UEFA as one of the founding fathers of the UEFA Champions League, together with Gabriel Hanot)[11] said that the South American Championship of Champions was the inspiration for the European Cup: "How could Europe, which wanted to be ahead of the rest of the world, not be able to accomplish a competition of the same kind of the South American one? We needed to follow that example."[12][13]

Recognition by CONMEBOL as a precursor to Copa Libertadores edit

Alfredo Di Stéfano was the most famous footballer at the competition

Vasco da Gama, though always considered themselves as the first South American club champions, had never asked CONMEBOL for recognition of that honor. However, in 1996 a CONMEBOL book, 30 Años de Pclub asión y Fiesta (30 Years of Passion and Party)[14] was discovered by Vasco da Gama executives. This book told the story of the Copa Libertadores (played from 1960 on), stating that the tournament of 1948 was its antecedente (predecessor). According to the CONMEBOL Press Release of April 29th, 1996,[15] Vasco da Gama's executives asked CONMEBOL's Executive Committee for the recognition of the aforementioned honor, and the acceptance of Vasco da Gama as a participant at Supercopa Libertadores, then a CONMEBOL competition to which were admitted only the previous Copa Libertadores champions (with Supercopa Libertadores not admitting the participation of winners of other official CONMEBOL competitions, such as Copa CONMEBOL, but only the winners of Copa Libertadores, so that Vasco da Gama participation in Supercopa based on its 1948 conquest would result, in practice, in an equalisation between the 1948 championship and the Copa Libertadores.).[16]

In April 1996, CONMEBOL's Executive Committee recognised the meaning and importance of the 1948 competition as the precursor to the Copa Libertadores (though CONMEBOL has not come to regard it as an official CONMEBOL competition), thus Vasco da Gama participated at the 1997 Supercopa Libertadores. As stated by the CONMEBOL Executive Committee, Vasco da Gama's request for Supercopa participation was accepted "in recognition of the sporting achievement and its historical truth" (as written in the 1996 CONMEBOL press release on the aforementioned recognition).[15] In 2014, CONMEBOL web-site congratulated Vasco da Gama on the club's 116th anniversary, stating: "Vasco won the first tournament of clubs at a continental level in 1948, which would 12 years later become the Copa Libertadores which they won in 1998, coinciding with the centenary of their founding".[17] The 1948 South American Club Championship has been regarded as a precursor to Copa Libertadores also at the FIFA web-site.[18][19]

Participants edit

The aim of the organizers was to invite the champion of the most important competition of each South American country. Most notable in the competition were the host Colo-Colo, the Di Stéfano-inspired River Plate (La Máquina), the Atilio García-inspired Nacional, and Vasco da Gama,[20] the respective representatives of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, four countries whose clubs would go on to become the dominant powers of South American football, aggregately winning all Copa Libertadores from 1960 to 1978 and over 90% of the Copa Libertadores from 1960 to the present day.

Country Team Qualification
  Argentina River Plate 1947 Primera División champion
  Bolivia Litoral 1947 La Paz champion [note 1]
  Brazil Vasco da Gama 1947 Campeonato Carioca champion [note 2]
  Chile Colo-Colo Host and 1947 Primera División champion
  Ecuador Emelec 1946 Guayaquil Championship champion [note 3]
  Peru Deportivo Municipal 1947 Primera División runner-up [note 4]
  Uruguay Nacional 1947 Primera División champion


  1. ^ No national club championship existed then in Bolivia so the country was represented by the current champion of capital city La Paz.
  2. ^ No national club championship existed then in Brazil so the champion of Rio de Janeiro Federal District, Vasco da Gama represented the country. They were given preference over Palmeiras, the São Paulo state champion, since Rio won the 1946 Championship of State Teams and thus was considered the champion of the stronger league.
  3. ^ No national club championship existed then in Ecuador so Emelec, the Guayaquil Championship champion of 1946 was given preference over the Pichincha Championship champion as the 1947 South American Championship matches were held all at Emelec's stadium (Estadio George Capwell) and having Emelec's as the cornerstone of Ecuador's national team squad.
  4. ^ Deportivo Municipal took part in place of the Peruvian champions Atlético Chalaco, who declined the invitation to participate.

Additional notes:

  • No organized club championship existed then in Colombia (that would eventually be commenced still in 1948, but later that year, in August, whereas the South American Club Championship was held in Feb-Mar 1948).
  • No reason is clear about the absence of a Paraguayan, though the 1947 Paraguayan Civil War may possibly have been the reason.
  • Venezuela would become a party to CONMEBOL only in 1952, 4 years after the South American Club Championship.

Notable players edit

Players who were considered big names at the time participated in the tournament: Labruna, Loustau, Norberto Yácono, Di Stefano, Moreno and Nestor Rossi for River Plate; Chico and goalkeeper Barbosa for Vasco da Gama; José Santamaría at the age of 19 was part of the Nacional Montevideo squad, which Luis Volpi had joined a year earlier after a short spell with Inter Milan.

Final standings edit

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1   Vasco da Gama 6 4 2 0 12 3 +9 10
2   River Plate 6 4 1 1 12 4 +8 9
3   Nacional 6 4 0 2 16 11 +5 8
4   Deportivo Municipal 6 3 0 3 12 11 +1 6
5   Colo-Colo 6 2 2 2 11 11 0 6
6   Litoral 6 1 0 5 9 18 −9 2
7   Emelec 6 0 1 5 4 18 −14 1
Source: RSSSF
Colo-Colo 1–3 2–2 4–2 3–2 0–1 1–1
Deportivo Municipal 4–0 3–1
Litoral 3–1
Nacional 3–2 4–1 3–1 3–0
River Plate 2–0 4–0 5–1
Vasco da Gama 4–0 1–0 2–1 4–1 0–0
Source: RSSSF
Legend: Blue = home team win; Yellow = draw; Red = away team win.

Match results edit

Complete list of matches played in the tournament:[21][22]

Colo-Colo  2–2  Emelec
Aranda   46'
Varela   57 '
Report Jiménez   14'
Yepes   17'
Attendance: ~70,000
Referee: Nobel Valentini (Uruguay)

Vasco da Gama  2–1  Litoral
Lelé   9', 67' Report Sandoval   70'
Attendance: ~50,000
Referee: C. Leeson (Chile)

Nacional  3–2  Deportivo Municipal
W. Gómez   11', 27'
J. García   51'
Report Cabada   29'
Guzmán   66'
Attendance: ~50,000
Referee: Eduardo Forte (Argentina)

River Plate  4–0  Emelec
Martínez   10', 47' (pen.)
Loustau   25', 40'
Attendance: ~70,000
Referee: Nobel Valentini (Uruguay)

Vasco da Gama  4–1  Nacional
Adhemir   12'
Maneca   66'
Danilo   68'
Friaca   89'
Report W. Gómez   25'
Attendance: ~70,000
Referee: H. Madrid (Chile)

River Plate  2–0  Deportivo Municipal
Loustau   61'
Labruna   71'
Attendance: ~49,000
Referee: Nobel Valentini (Uruguay)

Colo-Colo  4–2  Litoral
López   13', 37' (pen)
Saenz   82'
Report Capparelli   38', 67'
Attendance: ~49,000
Referee: A. da Gama (Brazil)

Nacional  3–1  Litoral
A. García   40', 55'
Orlandi   66'
Report Rodríguez   60'
Attendance: 17,223
Referee: Eduardo Forte (Argentina)

Vasco da Gama  4–0  Deportivo Municipal
Lelé   12'
Friaca   58', 70'
Ismael   61'
Attendance: 17,223
Referee: J. White (Chile)

Vasco da Gama  1–0  Emelec
Ismael   47' Report
Referee: H. Madrid (Chile)

Deportivo Municipal  3–1  Colo-Colo
Mosquera   57', 60'
Torres   85'
Report Varela   46'
Referee: A. da Gama (Brazil)

Litoral  3–1  Emelec
Capparelli   23', 48', 87' (pen) Report Mendoza   70'
Referee: J. White (Chile)

Nacional  3–0  River Plate
A. García   48'
Castro   57'
Orlandi   59'
Referee: C. Paredes (Bolivia)

Deportivo Municipal  4–0  Emelec
Mosquera   12', 51'
Drago   35'
Perales   48'
Referee: J. White (Chile)

Colo-Colo  1–1  Vasco da Gama
Farías   46' Report Friaca   67'
Referee: C. Paredes (Bolivia)

River Plate  5–1  Litoral
Di Stéfano   11', 47', 63'
Moreno   29'
Loustau   81'
Report Capparelli   82' (pen)
Referee: J. White (Chile)

Colo-Colo  3–2  Nacional
Lorca   15'
López   70' (pen)
Peñaloza   74'
Report A. García   4'
W. Gómez   47'
Referee: A. da Gama (Brazil)

Nacional  4–1  Emelec
Gambetta   5'
A. García   29'
Orlandi   37'
Gambetta   56'
Report Fernández   87' (pen)
Referee: S. Bustamante (Chile)

Vasco da Gama  0–0  River Plate
Referee: Nobel Valentini (Uruguay)

Deportivo Municipal  3–1  Litoral
López   15', 80'
Torres   37'
Report Capparelli   48'
Referee: J. White (Chile)

River Plate  1–0  Colo-Colo
Di Stéfano   61' Report
Referee: L. Fernández (Uruguay)

Top scorers edit

List of the competition top scorers:[23]

Rank Player Club Goals
  Roberto Capparelli   Litoral
  Atilio García   Nacional
  Alfredo Di Stéfano   River Plate
  Pedro López   Colo-Colo
  Máximo Mosquera   Deportivo Municipal
  Lelé   Vasco da Gama

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Spanish pronunciation: [kampeoˈnato suðameɾiˈkano ðe kampeˈones]
  2. ^ Portuguese pronunciation: [kɐ̃pjõˈnatu ˈsuwɐmeɾiˈkɐnu dʒi kɐ̃piˈõjs]
  3. ^ The Portuguese language version of this article includes links to Brazilian and Argentine newspapers published in 1948 regarding the competition winner, CR Vasco da Gama, as South American club champion.
  4. ^ Vasco da Gama 1948: Navegante entre Libertadores by José Augusto Giuffra, 7 Jul 2008v
  5. ^ a b Carluccio, Jose (September 2, 2007). "¿Qué es la Copa Libertadores de América?" (in Spanish). Historia y Fútbol. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  6. ^ Título sul-americano completa 60 anos on GloboEsporte, 14 March 2008
  7. ^ La Nación; Historia del Fútbol Chileno, 1985
  8. ^ Hace 60 años, River perdía la gran chance de ser el primer club campeón de América by Esteban Beckerman on, May 10, 2008
  9. ^ Campeonato Sul-Americano de Campeões 1948 Um Expresso na História by Mauro Prais on, 15 Jan 2010
  10. ^ La Nación, Tomo 8, pp. 15–16
  11. ^ UEFA: 50 Years of the European Cup
  12. ^ Especial: Liga dos Campeões completa 60 anos, e Neymar ajuda a contar essa história on Globo Espoerte, 10 May 2015 (archived)
  13. ^ A 70 Años del Torneo que Inspiró la Champions y La Copa Libertadores on El Mercúrio, Chile, March 13th 2018
  14. ^ Que es la Libertadores?
  15. ^ a b CONMEBOL press release, 29 Apr 1996
  16. ^ Note at the former CONMEBOL web-site Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Vasco Da Gama celebrates 116 years" on CONMEBOL website, August 21, 2014
  18. ^ Supercopa Libertadores overview on the RSSSF
  19. ^ Barbosa-inspired Vasco become the maiden kings. Thursday 14 March 2013. Retrieved with the web archive on Nov 9th 2023.
  20. ^ FIFA's Page on Vasco da Gama
  21. ^ South American Club Championship 1948 - match details by Pablo Ciullini on the RSSSF
  22. ^ Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones 1948 on Cero a Cero
  23. ^ Match details on the RSSSF