Bolivar won the title but may have to wait to be crowned champions.
By Rex Gowar
Bolivar won the opening championship by one point from Real Potosi to claim a record 16th league title and their first in three years since taking the 2006 closing championship.
However, there is a chance that they could be stripped of their crown after bottom team Real Mamore protested that the champions fielded an ineligible player when the met in their final match of the season.
The home side claimed that Bolivar’s Argentinian defender Augusto Mainguyague was out of contract when the match was played on July 5, their argument being that the player’s contract had ended on June 30.
The case is most likely to be drawn out over several months while the clubs wait for a decision by the federation and, after that, any appeal.
Bolivar secured the title with virtually with the last kick of the season. Real Potosi – who won 4-1 away to outgoing champions Aurora, who had three men sent off – must have thought the title was theirs with Mamore holding Bolivar 1-1, until Charles Da Silva scored the visitors’ winner in injury time.
With three games to go, six teams had been in the running for the title, while two of the country’s stronger sides finished in the bottom half of the table, with Blooming ninth and Wilstermann 11th.
The Strongest – the country’s second-most successful club with six titles, replaced Argentinian coach Julio Cesar Toresani with Brazilian midfielder Sandro Coelho after a string of poor results culminated in a 5-1 humiliation by San Jose, but could still only finish sixth.
Despite the government’s revenue office tightening the rules to ensure all professional players pay their taxes by changing their status to employees from independent workers – with clubs being made responsible for deducting tax at source – three sides, including Aurora, were hit with fines for failing to hand in the requisite documentation.
Meanwhile, Bolivar – whose Uruguayan striker William Ferreira was the tournament’s top scorer with 16 goals – immediately began looking ahead to the closing championship by negotiating with Newells’ Old Boys to retain on-loan Mainguyague, who was a key component in the league’s best defence.
Player of the tournament
Alejandro Schiaparelli (Bolivar)
Argentinian centre-back who marshalled the league’s best defence in his first tournament for the club. He continued to play in the final games of the season despite muscle fatigue in his left thigh.
Coach of the tournament
Gustavo Quinteros (Bolivar)
The Argentinian steered his side to the title on a limited budget which was carefully administered by the club’s owners, the BAISA investment company.