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Primera División Profesional
Primera División de México.png
Countries Mexico México
Confederation CONCACAF
Founded 1943
Number of teams 18
Relegation to Liga de Ascenso
Levels on pyramid 1
International cup(s) CONCACAF Champions League,
Copa Libertadores
Current champions Monterrey (2009 Apertura)
Most championships Guadalajara (11)
TV partners TV Azteca, Televisa
ESPN Mexico, Univision,
Fox Mexico, Sky Sport Mexico
Azteca America, Telemundo
AYM Sports
2010 Bicentenario

The Primera División Profesional (English: Professional First Division), simply known as the Primera División, is the top level of the Mexican football league system and is administered by the Mexican Football Federation. It was established in 1943 and as of 2009 has 18 clubs, divided into three groups competing for league titles. Each season the league holds two tournaments, the Apertura in the winter and the Clausura in the summer.



Amateur era

Prior to the Liga Mayor, there was no national football league in Mexico, and football competitions were held within relatively small geographical regions. The winners of the Primera Fuerza, a local league consisting of teams near and around Mexican Federal District, was considered the national competition. There were other regional leagues such as the Liga Veracruzana, Liga Occidental and Liga del Bajío that also had notable clubs. Many club owners were not keen on the idea of establishing a professional league, despite paying players under the table. With the increasing demand of football, there was a sense of urgency to unite all the local amateur leagues in Mexico to progress as a football nation. The professional national league was finally established in 1943.[1]

logo used in 1943

Professional era

When the F.M.F. announced the formation of the nation's first professional league, many clubs petitioned to join the newly formed league. The F.M.F. announced that ten clubs would form the Mayor League. The first members of the league were founded by six clubs of the Primera Fuerza of Mexico City, two clubs from the Liga Occidental and two members from the Liga Veracruzana.

Founding members

Primera Fuerza: América, Asturias, Atlante, Real España and CD Marte
Liga Occidental: Atlas and Guadalajara
Liga Veracruzana: Orizaba, Veracruz and Moctezuma


Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, many small clubs faced economic difficulties which were attributed to the lack of international competition by Mexican clubs and an unrewarding league format. As a result of the difficulties suffered by smaller teams, financially affluent Deportivo Guadalajara was able to capture 8 championships within a relatively short time span. Mexican clubs that placed high in the league standings could not afford to participate in prestigious international tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores as did many South American and European clubs.

The Mexican League Boom

The 1970 World Cup held in Mexico was the first World Cup televised on a grand scale. The season following the FIFA World Cup, the F.M.F. changed the league format and established a playoff phase to determine the national champion. This was done to regenerate interest and reward teams that placed fairly high in the standings.

Liguilla (The Playoffs)

The birth of liguilla (the playoffs) modernized the league despite the disagreements between the traditionalists and the modernists. Clubs that were near bankruptcy now were able to compete and generate profits. The playoffs have evolved since their inception. Originally the 18 teams are divided into 3 groups, with the top teams from each group qualifying for a playoff phase called Liguilla. This playoff phase starts with 8 teams and is played in the "tie" format in two-leg aggregate-score, similar to the quarterfinals and semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

In 1996, the league decided to split the season into two championships. This measure was done to generate additional revenues to finance the F.M.F.'s lower divisions. The league holds two tournaments per year, originally called invierno (winter) and verano (summer), now changed to apertura (opening - running from August to December) and clausura (closing - running from January to May). The change was done to correspond with FIFA's world footballing calendar, which "opens" in July/August and "closes" in April/May of the next year. So throughout the footballing world, the action lasts about ten months. In Europe, where tournaments are played as one single championship throughout the year, there is only one champion per year. In the case of Mexico, Argentina and other countries in South America, a new champion is crowned about every five months, or two per year.

At the end of a season, after the apertura and clausura tournaments, one team is relegated to the next lower division, Liga de Ascenso, and one team from that division is promoted and takes the place left open by the relegated team. Currently, the relegated team is determined by computing the points-per-game-played ratio for each team, considering all the games played by the team during the last two seasons (four tournaments). The team with the lower ratio is relegated. For teams recently promoted, only the games played since their promotion are considered (two or four tournaments). The team promoted from Liga de Ascenso is the winner of a two-leg match between the champions of the apertura and clausura tournaments of that division. If a team becomes the champion in both tournaments, it is automatically promoted.

Current Teams

Primera División
Name Manager City Stadium First season in

first division

First season of

current spell in top division

América Jesús Ramírez Mexico, D.F. Azteca 1943–1944 1943–1944
Atlante José Guadalupe Cruz Cancún, Quintana Roo Andrés Quintana Roo 1943–1944 1991–1992
Atlas Carlos Ischia Guadalajara, Jalisco Jalisco 1943–1944 1978–1979
Guadalajara José Luis Real Guadalajara, Jalisco Jalisco 1943–1944 1943–1944
Cruz Azul Enrique Meza Enriquez Mexico, D.F. Azul 1964–1965 1964–1965
Chiapas Pablo Marini Tuxtla, Chiapas Víctor Manuel Reyna 2002–2003 2002–2003
Ciudad Juárez Gabino Amparán Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Olimpico Benito Juárez 2008–2009 2008–2009
Monterrey Víctor Manuel Vucetich Monterrey, Nuevo León Tecnológico 1945–1946 1960–1961
Monarcas Morelia Tomás Boy Morelia, Michoacán Morelos 1957–1958 1981–1982
Pachuca Guillermo Rivarola Pachuca, Hidalgo Hidalgo 1967–1968 1998–1999
Puebla José Luis Sánchez Solá Puebla, Puebla Cuauhtémoc 1944–1945 2007–2008
Querétaro Carlos Reinoso Querétaro, Querétaro Corregidora 1985–1986 2009–2010
Pumas U.N.A.M. Ricardo Ferretti Mexico, D.F. Olímpico Universitario 1962–1963 1962–1963
San Luis Ignacio Ambriz San Luis, San Luis Potosí Alfonso Lastras Ramirez 1971–1972 2005–2006
Santos Laguna Ruben Omar Romano Torreón, Coahuila Nuevo Corona 1988–1989 1988–1989
Estudiantes Tecos Miguel Herrera Zapopan, Jalisco 3 de Marzo 1975–1976 1975–1976
Tigres U.A.N.L. Daniel Guzmán San Nicolás, Nuevo León Universitario 1974–1975 1997–1998
Toluca Jose Manuel de la Torre Toluca, Mexico Nemesio Diez 1953–1954 1953–1954

Kit and shirt sponsors

Team Kitmaker Shirt sponsor Second sponsor/s
América Nike Bimbo Coca-Cola
Atlante Atletica Cancún Riviera Maya
Atlas Atletica Jalisco es México Coca-Cola/Corona/Aeroméxico
Guadalajara Reebok Bimbo Toyota
Cruz Azul Umbro Cemento Cruz Azul Telcel/Powerade
Chiapas Atletica Banco Azteca Farmacias del Ahorro
Indios Juárez Kappa S-Mart Grupo Yvasa
Monterrey Nike Bimbo Carta Blanca/Bancomer
Morelia Atletica Roshfrans Elektra/Sol/Cinépolis
Pachuca Puma Gamesa Office Depot/Pepsi
Puebla Atletica Volkswagen IDN
Querétaro Pirma Kellogs Coca Cola
San Luis Voit Caja Popular Mexicana Telcel
Santos Laguna Atletica Soriana Corona/Grupo Peñoles/Lala
Toluca Atletica Banamex Corona
Estudiantes Tecos Somos Estudiantes Riviera Nayarit Guadalajara 2011
Tigres U.A.N.L. Adidas Cemex Carta Blanca
Pumas U.N.A.M. Puma Banamex Martí


The teams of the Primera, like those of Serie A in Italy have the right to sell their own broadcast rights. What this means in practice is that the league is effectively divided between teams broadcast on Televisa, TV Azteca in México and Telemundo & Univision In United States.

Additionally, SKY Latin America and Fox Sports LA hold exclusive broadcasting rights over certain matches, although the majority of the most important ones are shown on free-to-air television.

Most of the matches of the Televisa teams are shown primarily on Galavisión Saturday afternoons and evenings, The games of UNAM, Toluca and America are shown Sundays on Canal de las Estrellas. All of Television Azteca's matches are on Azteca 13 on Saturday or Sunday afternoons except U.A.G. that plays on Fridays and its matches are shown on Azteca 7. Match times are on U.S. Central Time.

The clubs are divided as follows, according to tv chain sponsor:

United States



Azteca America:



TV Azteca:


All-Time Leading Scorers
Rank Player Goals
1 Mexico Cabinho 312 Goals
2 Mexico Carlos Hermosillo 294 Goals
3 Paraguay José Cardozo 249 Goals
4 Mexico Jared Borgetti 249 Goals
5 Chile Osvaldo Castro 214 Goals
6 Mexico Luis Roberto Alves "Zague" 209 Goals
7 Brazil Carlos Perucci 197 Goals
8 Mexico Adalberto Lopez 196 Goals
9 Mexico Sergio Lira 195 Goals
10 Mexico Ricardo Peláez 187 Goals

Teams in bold are currently participating in the Primera División.

Team Championships
Guadalajara 11
América 10
Toluca 9
Cruz Azul 8
U.N.A.M. 6
Pachuca 5
León 5
Atlante 3
Monterrey 3
Santos Laguna 3
Necaxa 3
U.A.N.L. 2
Puebla 2
Veracruz 2
Zacatepec 2
Atlas 1
Morelia 1
U.A.G. 1
Tampico 1
Oro 1
Marte (defunct) 1
España (defunct) 1
Asturias (defunct) 1


External links

Simple English

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