Football in Portugal

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Football in Portugal
Country Portugal
Governing body Portuguese Football Federation
National team men's national team
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions
Football fans at the Estádio da Luz

Association football (Portuguese: futebol), the most popular sport in Portugal, has a long and storied history in Portugal, following its 1875 introduction. The country's top domestic league, the Primeira Liga, was founded in 1934 and is home to internationally successful clubs such as S.L. Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting CP, the "Big Three" who usually dominate the league. In total, Portuguese clubs have won the UEFA Champions League (the most prestigious club competition in European football) four times, the UEFA Europa League (UEFA Cup) twice, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (European Cup Winners' Cup) once, the UEFA Intertoto Cup once, the UEFA Super Cup (European Super Cup) once and the Intercontinental Cup twice.

Football is the most popular sport in Portugal and in the 2011–12 Primeira Liga season Benfica had an average attendance of 38,029 people, Porto 34,843 and Sporting 30,638 with the season overall having an average attendance of 10,958 and a total attendance of 2,629,950.

Internationally lauded players such as Eusébio, Luís Figo, Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo have played for the Portugal national football team. They were third in the FIFA 1966 World Cup and fourth in the 2006 World Cup. The country hosted the UEFA Euro 2004, where they were runners-up to Greece. Then, A Selecção were semi-finalists in Euro 1984, Euro 2000 and Euro 2012. Twelve years later, Portugal won their first major title, the Euro 2016, beating host nation France.


Monument in Camacha, celebrating the first ever organised football game in Portugal

Football started to gain popularity in Portugal in the late 19th century, brought by Portuguese students who returned from England.

The first organized game in the country took place in 1875 in Camacha, Madeira, organized by Madeira-born Harry Hinton, who brought a football from England where he was studying. Popularity quickly spread across the island. Harry would go on to become Honorary President of CS Marítimo.[1] [2]

The person responsible for its spread in mainland Portugal, was Guilherme Pinto Basto (according to some people, his brothers Eduardo and Frederico brought the ball from England). He organized an exhibition in October 1888 and a match on in January the following year. The match, played where today's Campo Pequeno bullring is located, involved opposing teams from Portugal and England. Portugal won the game 2–1. Consequently, football started attracting the attention of high society, distinguished by the Luso-British rivalry.

The game reached colleges and led to clubs across the country. By century's end, associations such as Clube Lisbonense, Carcavelos Sport Club, Braço de Prata, Real Ginásio Clube Português, Estrela Futebol Clube, Futebol Académico, Campo de Ourique, Oporto Cricket, and Sport Clube Vianense had been founded.

The first domestic match, between Lisbon and Porto, took place in 1894, attended by King Carlos.

Clube Internacional de Futebol (founded in 1902) was Portugal's first team-play abroad, defeating Madrid Fútbol Clube in 1907 in Madrid, Spain.

On 31 March 1914, the 3 regional associations that existed in Portugal (Lisbon, Portalegre and Porto), merged to create a national association called "a União Portuguesa de Futebol" the ancestor of the current national association "Federação Portuguesa de Futebol" which was formed on 28 May 1926.

Club football[edit]

The main domestic football competition is the Primeira Liga. The dominant teams are S.L. Benfica, F.C. Porto and Sporting Clube de Portugal.

The oldest team is Académica, which was founded in 1876. Futebol Clube do Porto, after an unsuccessful attempt in 1893 (the current foundation date), reappeared in 1906. Boavista FC was founded in 1903. Sport Lisboa e Benfica was born as the result of the fusion in 1908 between Sport Lisboa, founded in 1904, and Grupo Sport Benfica, founded in 1906; the club maintained the foundation date of Sport Lisboa. Sporting Clube de Portugal was founded in 1906. Belenenses was founded in 1919. These clubs sponsor several sports activities, but give great emphasis to football, making use of teams of professional players, which frequently participate in European competitions.[3]

List of teams (2015–16 season)[edit]

Conventional name UEFA short name Official name Location
Académica de Coimbra A.Académica de Coimbra Associação Académica de Coimbra Coimbra
Arouca FC Arouca Futebol Clube de Arouca Arouca
Belenenses CF Os Belenenses Clube de Futebol Os Belenenses Lisbon
Benfica S.L. Benfica Sport Lisboa e Benfica Lisbon
Boavista Boavista F.C. Boavista Futebol Clube Porto
Braga or
Sporting de Braga
SC Braga Sporting Clube de Braga Braga
Estoril or
GD Estoril-Praia Grupo Desportivo Estoril-Praia Estoril
Marítimo CS Marítimo Club Sport Marítimo Funchal,
Moreirense Moreirense FC Moreirense Futebol Clube Moreira de Cónegos
Nacional or
Nacional da Madeira
CD Nacional Clube Desportivo Nacional Funchal,
Paços de Ferreira F.C. Paços de Ferreira Futebol Clube Paços de Ferreira Paços de Ferreira
Porto F.C. Porto Futebol Clube do Porto Porto
Rio Ave Rio Ave F.C. Rio Ave Futebol Clube Vila do Conde
Sporting Sporting
Clube de Portugal
Sporting Clube de Portugal Lisbon
Tondela CD Tondela Clube Desportivo de Tondela Tondela
União or
União da Madeira
CF União Clube de Futebol União Funchal,
Madeira Islands
Vitória de Setúbal or
Vitória FC Vitória Futebol Clube Setúbal
Vitória de Guimarães or
Vitória SC Vitória Sport Clube Guimarães


List of teams by major honours[edit]

Below is listed every team to have won any of the major domestic competitions (organized by LPFP and FPF) and international trophies (organized by UEFA and FIFA).

Rank Club PL CP TP TL ST CL EL UCWC UIC USC IC Total Last honour
1 Benfica 36 3 26 7 7 2 - - - - - 81 2017 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira
2 Porto 27 4 16 - 20 2 2 - - 1 2 74 2013 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira
3 Sporting CP 18 4 16 - 8 - - 1 - - - 47 2015 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira
4 Boavista 1 - 5 - 3 - - - - - - 9 2000–01 Primeira Liga
5 Belenenses 1 3 3 - - - - - - - - 7 1988–89 Taça de Portugal
6 Vitória de Setúbal - - 3 1 - - - - - - - 4 2007–08 Taça da Liga
6 Braga - - 2 1 - - - - 1 - - 4 2015–16 Taça de Portugal
8 Académica - - 2 - - - - - - - - 2 2011–12 Taça de Portugal
8 Vitória de Guimarães - - 1 - 1 - - - - - - 2 2012–13 Taça de Portugal
10 Olhanense - 1 - - - - - - - - - 1 1923–24 Campeonato de Portugal
10 Marítimo - 1 - - - - - - - - - 1 1925–26 Campeonato de Portugal
10 Carcavelinhos[5] - 1 - - - - - - - - - 1 1927–28 Campeonato de Portugal
10 Leixões - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1 1960–61 Taça de Portugal
10 Estrela da Amadora - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1 1989–90 Taça de Portugal
10 Beira-Mar - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1 1998–99 Taça de Portugal
10 Moreirense - - - 1 - - - - - - - 1 2016–17 Taça da Liga

National team[edit]

Portuguese football fans supporting the Portugal national team

As of 26 May 2010, the Portugal was ranked third in FIFA world ranking, their highest ever. Their lowest rank was 43rd overall in 1998.

Portugal hosted UEFA Euro 2004, but were upset by champions Greece in the final. Portugal reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup twice; in 1966, when Eusébio was the top scorer, with nine goals, and also in 2006, led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo. This was the first time since 1966 that Portugal had advanced this far in a World Cup tournament.

All players of the "golden generation" have retired, except Cristiano Ronaldo, who became team captain. Led by manager Fernando Santos, Portugal won the UEFA Euro 2016, beating hosts France in the final 1–0.[7]

Stadiums in Portugal
Estádio da Luz
Capacity: 65,647
Estádio do Dragão
Capacity: 50,948
Estádio José Alvalade
Capacity: 50,466
Estádio Nacional
Capacity: 37,593
Estádio Municipal de Aveiro
Capacity: 30,498

Portugal also participates to the Lusophony Games and takes part in its football tournaments. In 2014, Portugal was one of the eight nations to take part in the first Unity World Cup.


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Camacha". 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2017-03-23. 
  3. ^ Football Bible. "Portuguese football | Portugal soccer league, clubs, players, history". Retrieved 2017-03-23. 
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ Carcavelinhos is an extinct club. It merged with União de Lisboa in 1942, resulting in Atlético de Portugal.
  6. ^ From 1922 to 1938, the Portuguese champion was determined in a knock-out competition called Campeonato de Portugal (Championship of Portugal).
  7. ^ "Portugal 1-0 France (AET)". BBC. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2017.