Football in Paraguay

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Football is by far the most popular sport in Paraguay to the point that it is part of the nation's culture.

History[edit]

Football arrived to Paraguay in the late 1800s. There are differing versions as to how this happened. The most commonly held account is that of William Paats. This account has much primary source documentation (newspaper articles) As this version goes, football was first introduced in Paraguay by Dutchman William Paats, who moved from the Netherlands to Asunción (the capital of Paraguay) in 1888. During a trip to Buenos Aires Paats bought a football and brought it back to Asunción in order to teach the sport, which was unknown among Paraguayans.[1] At first, football was only practiced by the "elite" (upper class) but it soon became very popular and spread quickly throughout the whole country to people of all social classes.

Another version brings the genesis of football in Paraguay a bit further back, to 1886 and in the area around Borja. Miguel Angel Bestard, in his authoritative volume "Paraguay: One Century of Football" recounts a story about how English railroad workers organized games against the local Paraguayans. The English team was named "Everton", as a clear homage to the club from Liverpool, England.

In 1900, small tournaments were held at the Plaza de Armas, a plaza located in downtown Asunción. Because of the huge success of the tournaments and the large attendances for the games, Paats decided to found the first Paraguayan football club, which he named Olimpia Football Club (later renamed Club Olimpia) in 1902. By 1906 the number of football clubs in Paraguay had increased and the Paraguayan Football Association (governing body of football in Paraguay) was founded. In 1910, Paraguay formed its first national squad to play against the squad from Corrientes, Argentina, but it would have to wait till 1919 for the Argentine national team to take a boat upriver on the Parana River and visit Asuncion for the first official international games Paraguay would ever play.

The Paraguayan Football Association joined CONMEBOL in 1921, and FIFA in 1925.

Football has grown enormously since then, and there are over 1600 teams spread throughout Paraguay participating in bla leagues.[2] Each of those teams try to make their way to the first division by clearing the different levels of lower divisions. The growth and evolution of Paraguayan football can be seen in the achievements made in the club level and by the Paraguayan national football team. The national team has participated in seven World Cups, won two Copa América tournaments and obtained a silver medal at the Olympic Games in 2004. All these accomplishments established Paraguay as the fourth most successful football nation in South America behind Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. At the club level, Olimpia Asunción has won a total of eight international tournaments, including three Copa Libertadores and one Intercontinental Cup.

Among the most important and successful football players in Paraguayan history are Arsenio Erico, Aurelio González, Romerito and José Luis Chilavert.[3]

League system[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]