Sport in Portugal
Sports in Portugal are important in Portuguese culture. Football is the most popular sport in Portugal. Other than football, many other professional or semi-professional well organized sport competitions take place every season in Portugal, including basketball, swimming, athletics, tennis, gymnastics, futsal, rink hockey, team handball, volleyball, surfing, canoeing and rugby union championships among the hundreds of sports played in this country.
The major Portuguese professional sports leagues, championships and events include:
- Portuguese Football Championship, Cup of Portugal, Taça da Liga and Supertaça in football.
- Portuguese Futsal First Division in futsal.
- Portuguese Basketball League in basketball.
- Portuguese Rink Hockey Championship in rink hockey.
- Portuguese Handball League in handball.
- Campeonato Nacional Honra/Super Bock in rugby.
- Portuguese Volleyball League A1 in volleyball.
- Portuguese Beach Soccer League in beach soccer.
- Volta a Portugal in cycling.
- Rally of Portugal in motor racing.
Portugal has been traditionally strong in the sport of athletics in long distance running, and is the birthplace for a number of successful athletes including Rosa Mota, Carlos Lopes, Fernanda Ribeiro, and Manuela Machado. Rui Silva and sprinter Francis Obikwelu have won several gold, silver and bronze medals in European, World and Olympic Games competitions. Naide Gomes is a multiple World and European champion in the women's pentathlon and long jump events and Nelson Évora is world and Olympic champion in the triple jump. In the triathlon, Vanessa Fernandes has won a large number of medals and major competitions across the world, including the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The country has a strong reputation in cross-country running: it hosts two of the world's foremost annual meetings (the Almond Blossom Cross Country and Oeiras International Cross Country), it has hosted the IAAF World Cross Country Championships twice, and Carlos Lopes and Albertina Dias are both former world champions of the sport.
Portugal became in the later years one of the most successful countries in this sport, winning lots of medals at European and world championships. The better athletes including Francisca Laia, Teresa Portela, Joana Vasconcelos, Helena Rodrigues, Beatriz Gomes, João Ribeiro, Emanuel Silva and Fernando Pimenta. These two athletes won the silver medal at 2012 Olympic Games in London in the Men's K2 1000m event.
Cycling, with Volta a Portugal being the most important race, is also a popular sports event and include professional cycling teams such as Sporting Clube de Portugal, S.L. Benfica, Boavista, Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira, and União Ciclista da Maia. Noted Portuguese cyclists include 2013 World Road Race Champion Rui Costa, as well as Joaquim Agostinho, Marco Chagas, José Azevedo, Sérgio Paulinho, and Tiago Machado.
Football is the most popular sport in Portugal, and the country has produced an amazing amount of talented footballers who became known worldwide. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Luís Figo, Nani, Rui Costa, Deco, Simão, Ricardo Quaresma, Fernando Couto, Paulo Sousa, Vítor Baía, Paulo Futre, Rui Barros, Pauleta, and the top scorer of the 1966 FIFA World Cup striker Eusébio with nine goals, are among the most noted Portuguese footballers. Portuguese football managers are also noteworthy, with José Mourinho, André Villas-Boas, Carlos Queiroz, José Peseiro, Manuel José, Fernando Santos, and Artur Jorge, among the most renowned.
The Portugal national football team is among the higher-rated national football teams in Europe and the world despite never actually winning any major competitions, and the Portuguese Liga professional football club championship is one of the most widely known sport events in the country, where such football clubs as Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Sporting Clube de Portugal, and Futebol Clube do Porto are main contenders.
Portuguese football teams have performed well in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions, reaching regularly the last stages of those competitions and winning a number of trophies. Portugal has a large number of top football stadia. There are 3 UEFA 5 star stadia in Portugal along with many other featuring state of the art facilities which are distributed across the country.
The Portuguese futsal league is divided into divisions. The top teams play in the 1a Divisão. In each division, a team plays all other teams twice, once at home and once away, and 1a Divisão the final phase is played under the playoff system.
The Portuguese league teams compete in Europe under UEFA, most notably in the UEFA Futsal Cup. The teams also compete in a domestic cup competition each year, called the Portuguese Cup. The winners of the 1a Divisão play the winners of the Portuguese Cup in the Portuguese SuperCup.
Martial arts like judo have also brought many medals to this country, namely Telma Monteiro who conquered gold twice at the European Championships in the -52 kg category, and Nuno Delgado who conquered the bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and became the European champion in 1999 (in Bratislava) and vice-champion in the year of 2003.
The country has an ancient martial art known as Jogo do Pau (Portuguese Stick Fencing), used for self-protection and for duels between young men in disputes over young women. Having its origin in the Middle Ages, Jogo do Pau uses wooden staves as a combat weapon.
The Autódromo Fernanda Pires da Silva in the Estoril, near Lisbon, is the main Portuguese race track where many motorsport competitions are held, including the World Motorcycling Championship, A1 Grand Prix and formerly F1.
Portugal has great traditions in rallying with one of the most famous rally races in the world (Rally of Portugal). Also famous is the Rally Madeira. Off-road events (with the Baja Portugal 1000 and recently Lisboa-Dakar) also have international recognition. SATA RAlly Açores is part of the ERC.
Being the 13th nation to join the Olympic Movement, in 1909, it first competed at the Summer Olympic Games in 1912, in Stockholm. It has participated uninterruptedly since, building up a total of 21 presences (18th most assiduous, as of 2004), of which it has collected 22 Olympic medals, divided into 4 golds, 7 silvers and 11 bronzes.
The Winter Olympic Games saw Portugal's first participation in 1952, in Oslo. However, being a poorly mountainous country and possessing a mediterranean climate, together with the absence of a winter sporting tradition, explains Portugal's weaker Winter Olympic history, with only 5 (interspersed) presences and no medals.
Portugal has a successful rink hockey team, with 15 World titles and 20 European titles, making it the country with the most wins in both competitions. The most successful Portuguese rink hockey clubs in the history of European championships are F.C. Porto, Sporting Clube de Portugal, S.L. Benfica, and Óquei de Barcelos.
The Portuguese national rugby union team made a dramatic qualification into the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and become the first all amateur team to qualify for the World Cup in the sport's professional era. The Portuguese national rugby sevens team has performed well, becoming one of the strongest teams in Europe, and proved their status as European champions in several occasions.
Portugal has one of the best table tennis team of the world. The team is composed by Marcos Freitas, Tiago Apolónia and João Pedro Monteiro. Portugal reached the quarter-finals at 2012 Olympic Games in London, beating in the first round Great Britain and losing the quarter-finals against South Korea 2-3.
Portugal Davis Cup team is an average team in Tennis,competing between Europe Group I and Europe Group II.Nowadays is composed by João Sousa, Rui Machado, Frederico Gil, Pedro Sousa, Gastão Elias and Leonardo Tavares.The National Coach is Pedro Cordeiro.Every season the city of Estoril host the Portugal Open(formerly Estoril Open),competition won by some of the best tennis players of all time.
American football is played in a national league since 2009, initially with 5 teams. In 2013, the league was split in two conferences, north and south. The fifth edition in 2014, will have 10 teams. Lisboa Navigators won the past four editions of Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Americano.
In surfing, Justin Mujica, European surfing champion in 2004, is now back in the competitions after recovering from a knee injury. Tiago Pires reached the number one position at ASP WQS rating and is now part of the main surfing competition on the ASP WCT. Ruben Gonzalez is an international acclaimed surfer and the only one to achieve the national title in two consecutive tournaments.
In 2010, Portugal became one of the ASP World Championship Tour official stops.
- Airsoft is played across the entire country.
- Equestrianism and Olympic shooting are also popular and have a reputation in Portugal, with many current and former law enforcement or military members adopting this sport.
- Golf is also worth mentioning, since its greatest players play in the sunny region of the Algarve during the Algarve Open.
- Tennis is popular and the facilities for the practice of this sport are widespread.
Traditional sports and games
Other sports and games are the "jogos populares" or "jogos tradicionais", a wide variety of traditional sports and games played for fun. These include the jogo da malha, jogo do pau, and the petanca (pétanque).