Football in Puerto Rico
Association Football is one of the leading sports of Puerto Rico, ranking only behind baseball, basketball, boxing, and volleyball in national popularity and is the number one participation sport on the island (as it is on the mainland United States). There has been a significant growth in the sport in recent years, as traditionally football has played a very small role in Puerto Rico. The sport on the island is governed by the Puerto Rican Football Federation an affiliate of FIFA.
Early years (1900-1919)
It is said that the sport was played during Spanish colonial times, mostly by soldiers in the field in front of El Morro. By 1904 games were being played there between sailor of foreign ships wail docked in San Juan Harbor. But it wasn't until 1911 that the first organized club was formed, Comercio Sporting Club which would organize games between members of the club, the club then formed two teams, Minerva and Mercurio, this two teams would take part in the first organized tournament in Puerto Rican history, Copa Porananmiz. In 1913 two more clubs where formed San Juan FC and Ponce Sporting Club. Up until then football was mostly played by the Hispanic population of the island wail the Americans would play sports like baseball, basketball and Rugby, but in 1914 the a group of Americans formed Celtics FC and the first rivalry of Puerto Rican football was born. Celtics composed of Americans and San Juan FC composed of Puerto Ricans and Spaniards, it brought up the tensions between Hispanics and Americans in the island during this period. Later in 1914 Celtics traveled to Ponce to face Ponce Sporting Club, in the first ever reported game between teams of different cities in Puerto Rico.
Since its foundation the Puerto Rico national football team has been one of the weakest teams in the world. It did not even enter the qualification stage for the 2006 World Cup. Their highest FIFA ranking was 97 (March 1994) by using players from the USA, and lowest FIFA ranking was 202 (November 2004). Until 2008 Puerto Rico had not fielded a national team since 2004 when they lost to Grenada 5-2, the last time they had won a match was back in 1993 when they won 4-0 against the Cayman Islands.
From 2007 onwards, there has been an apparent belief in the news and commentaries by the President of FPF, that it is possible to enter a FIFA World Cup in 4 to 8 years, this is in the midst of the foundation of a team that is a member of the United Soccer Leagues First Division, the second tier of the American Soccer.
After a four year absence, the Puerto Rican national team re-emerged on January 16, 2008, with a 2-0 victory in a friendly against the Bermuda national team. This friendly was played in preparation for a World Cup Qualifier against the Dominican Republic scheduled for the 26 March, 2008, which Puerto Rico won in a 1-0 victory.
Until recently club football had been a very limited affair involving a handful of amateur teams in several separate leagues. In recent years, as the domestic game has grown in popularity, this has started to change. The Puerto Rico Islanders began to play in the USL First Division, the second tier of football in the United States at the time, and in 2008 the first ever unified competition the Puerto Rico Soccer League was established, marking a major landmark in the history of the game on the island. Many clubs of the island are now affiliated with larger teams in some of the worlds major football leagues.
In 2011, club football teams on the island made another monumental leap. The Puerto Rico Islanders made a transition to the North American Soccer League, which is the new second tier of football in the United States. In addition, Puerto Rico United, Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico, and Sevilla FC Puerto Rico made a transition to USL Pro, the new third tier of football in the United States. The Puerto Rico Soccer League held a 2011 season. However, the PRSL folded after the 2011 season, making the Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Puerto Rico to become the top tier league, even though it is an amateur league. The LNFPR split into a First Division and Second Division in order to fill the void left by the now-defunct PRSL. Seeking to restructure professional football in Puerto Rico, the PRFF is planning for the Liga Profesional de Fútbol de Puerto Rico, which is supposed to start in 2013.
Puerto Rican association football leagues and associations
- Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Puerto Rico
- Campeonato Nacional de Fútbol de Puerto Rico (defunct)
- Liga Mayor de Fútbol Nacional (defunct)
- Puerto Rico Soccer League (defunct)
- Puerto Rican Football Federation
Puerto Rican teams
- "Puerto Rico U20’s Part of Changing Landscape". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
- "Glimmer of hope amid the gloom for Puerto Rican football « World Soccer World Soccer". Worldsoccer.com. 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
- Reinaldo Álvarez, Luis Reinaldo Álvarez; Toni Lorenti (2007). Fútbol puertorriqueño: crónica de alegrías, sueños y desencantos Tomo I (1911-1949). Museo Casa Roig. pp. 45–56.
- Omar Marrero (2008-05-15). "Nace una liga profesional" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. Retrieved 2008-06-04.[dead link]
- "Con 8 equipos en primera división y 14 en segunda arranca la Liga Nacional de Fútbol | Telemundo de Puerto Rico canal líder en telenovelas, noticias y entretenimiento | Deportes". Telemundopr.com. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
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