Sport in Argentina


Sport in Argentina

Benefiting form a multicultural population and a mostly mild climate, Argentines participate in a variety of sports, though, without doubt, the most important sport in Argentina is Association Football. Other sports with wide following locally include basketball, rugby union, tennis, field hockey, boxing, volleyball, auto racing, golf and polo. Many renowned Argentine sports players excel in group sports, boxing and tennis being the most important examples.

The national sport, though not very popular, is pato. Other sports that are played professionally and recreatively are athletics (track and field), swimming, mountaineering, skiing, cycling, rink hockey, padel tennis and fishing.

Argentina is one of the most important sports powers in South America, ending at the top of the medal count at the South American Games since 1978 except for 2002.

Football (Soccer)

Football in Argentina, it could be said, is more than a sport, as it is arguably part of the country's culture. The sport is played all over the country by children during breaks at school and by grown-ups in the indoor football fields that can be found almost everywhere. The Argentine First Division is considered among the most important in the world{cite}. The Argentina national football team has won two Football World Cups, successive Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008, 14 South American Championships, one Confederations Cup and 6 Youth World Championship. Argentina's most famed national football idol is Diego Maradona.

Women's football is far behind in terms of popularity and professionalism. Nevertheless, the Argentina women's national football team participates of the Sudamericano Femenino (created in 1991) since 1995, obtaining the second place in 3 occasions before finally wining the 2006 edition, with a much-celebrated 2-0 victory over Brazil in the last match of the final group stage. The national team also participated at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2003.

Argentina's fiercest competitor is their South American archrival Brazil (sometimes known as the "Battle of the South Americans"). Both the youth and senior teams have met numerous times in the Copa América also in the FIFA Confederations Cup and other FIFA youth tournaments. In the 2008 Olympics the U-23 teams met in a historic semifinal clash and won 3-0 in a hard-fought game.

Basketball

Basketball is also a very popular sport, mostly in the inner provinces of Argentina, since the game is less popular than football in the capital. The Argentine Basketball Federation organizes the Argentine National Basketball League. Although Argentina also won the first World Championship in 1950, the sport has not gained country-wide popularity until the 2000s, when the Argentine team conquered the Olympic Gold in 2004, and had a good performance in the 2002 and 2006 World Championship finishing respectively in second and fourth position. Argentine NBA star Emanuel Ginóbili also won NBA rings in 2003, 2005 and 2007 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, the last one with Fabricio Oberto.

Though women's basketball is not professional in Argentina, the national team participates in most of the international competitions, reaching perhaps its highest point at the 2006 World Championship, when they finished in 9th place.

Rugby union

Rugby in Argentina is still largely amateur; however, there are many professional players. Nevertheless, "Los Pumas" (the national team) have become one of the most powerful rugby national teams in the world by finishing third in the 2007 Rugby World Cup played in France and being currently in third position in the IRB international ranking. Since November 2004, Argentina have picked up at least one win over all the participants in Europe's Six Nations Championship, drawn with the British and Irish Lions, and narrowly lost to the All Blacks (who had to survive a last-second assault on their try line). Most important Argentine players emigrate to Europe (mainly to England and France) where they play professionally. Probably the best known players are Hugo Porta (played during the 1970s and the 1980s); current "Pumas" captain Felipe Contepomi; his immediate predecessor as captain, Agustín Pichot; current star utility back Juan Martín Hernández; Marcelo Loffreda, a former "Puma" who coached the team during their 2007 World Cup run before leaving to take up the coaching post at English club power Leicester Tigers; and Loffreda's successor as head coach, 1990s "Pumas" star Santiago Phelan.

There has always been discussion regarding the possibility of Argentina joining the Tri Nations alongside the main Southern Hemisphere powers of nrut|Australia, New Zealand and nrut|South Africa, although this proposal and a similar one to join the Super 14 Southern Hemisphere professional league have both been consistently denied. More recently, Argentina has lobbied for inclusion in the Six Nations, which arguably makes more sense for the country, considering that most top Argentine players are based in Europe. In 2006, both Pichot and Loffreda publicly urged that Argentina be admitted to the Six Nations, with both on record as being willing to have the "Pumas" play their "home" fixtures in Europe (possibly in Spain or Portugal) to alleviate travel issues for all teams involved. However, while these discussions were ongoing, "The Sunday Times" of London reported in February 2007 that the sport's world governing body, the International Rugby Board, was brokering a deal with Tri Nations organiser SANZAR that could have seen "Los Pumas" admitted to that competition as early as 2008. However, this plan was not implemented; ultimately, after the "Pumas"' 2007 World Cup run, it was decided that the earliest that the team could enter a major international competition would be 2012, and that the "Pumas" would eventually join the Tri Nations.

The Argentina national rugby league team represents Argentina in the sport of rugby league and are an affiliated member of the International Rugby League Federation. The team played its first matches in March 2005 when they hosted the Australian Police Rugby League team for two matches, which the Australians won.

Tennis

Tennis is, ever since the 1970s with Guillermo Vilas and later with Gabriela Sabatini in the 1980s both reached the number 2 position, quite popular among people of all ages. Even though no Argentine player reached the first place at the ATP rankings, there are many Argentine players within the most important in the circuit. Argentina won the World Team Cup three times, in 1980, 2002 and 2007. During the 2000s, a number of Argentine players were among the top 10 of the ranking, and at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup gathering the top 8 players of the season there were 4 Argentine players, a record for any nationality in the history of the Masters Tournament. The Argentine team also reached the semifinals of the Davis Cup 4 times in the last 5 years, losing in the final in 2006.

Field hockey

"Las Leonas" (Argentina's national women's team) conquered the World Hockey Cup in 2002 and the Olympic silver medal in 2000, as well as bronze in 2004 and 2008. The men's team hasn't been able to win any major tournament except for the hockey tournaments at the 1971 and 2003 Pan American Games, but won the 2005 and 2007 Champions Challenges, and are usually positioned among the top ten teams in the world.

Rink hockey

Rink hockey is mainly played in the Cuyo region (especially in San Juan Province). Argentine players have an international quality, with the men's national team has won 4 Rink Hockey World Championship titles. The woman national team also has won 3 World titles. Argentine Clubs such as Olimpia and UVT have also won international titles. People outside the Cuyo region don't give a great importance to this sport, except perhaps for the national team, when it reaches the final stages of an international competition. hi

Boxing

:"for a list of Argentine boxers see "

Pascual Pérez was Argentina's first world boxing champion. There Argentine boxing legends such as Carlos Monzón, Santos Laciar and Juan Martin Coggi held the world champion's title in their categories. Argentine boxers have, as of 2004, earned 24 olympic medals, including seven gold medals.

Argentine boxer Victor Galindez was the third Hispanic to win the world's Light-Heavyweight title (after Puerto Rico's Jose Torres and Venezuela's Vicente Rondon, WBA-recognized champion during the middle 1970s). Galindez died after he was run over by a car during an auto racing competition that he took part of.

In 1994, WBA world Middleweight champion Jorge Castro knocked out John David Jackson in the ninth round to retain his title in Monterrey, Mexico. Since Castro was on the brink of suffering a technical knockout loss when he won the fight, the punch with which he beat Jackson has become known as boxing's version of Diego Maradona's Hand of God goal.

Marcela Acuna is a world champion female boxer and arguably one of the most popular fighters of the 2000s in Argentina.

Other fighters, such as Oscar Bonavena, Juan Roldan and Luis Firpo, did not win world championships but were also popular among boxing fans during their years as professional fighters.

Volleyball

Volleyball has a professional male league. Argentina national volleyball team's best achievement was the bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and is usually ranked by the FIVB among the best 10 national teams in the world.

Female volleyball is not played professionally. The national team is less important internationally than its male counterpart (FIVB's 17th place).

Auto racing

From rally to Formula One, auto racing is a sport followed by a number of fans in Argentina. Formula one legend Juan Manuel Fangio was five time world champion and has held the record of most victories for many years. Years after Fangio's career was over, Carlos Reutemann was the best known Argentine driver of the 1970s. Argentine competitions include the TC 2000 and Turismo Carretera road racing series as well as Rally Argentina of the World Rally Championship. Former events include the defunct Formula One Argentine Grand Prix and World Sportscar Championship's 1000 km Buenos Aires.

Golf

Among the best in South America, important Argentine golfers include José Cóceres, Roberto DeVicenzo, Eduardo Romero, Ángel Cabrera and Ricardo González. Roberto DeVicenzo and Antonio Cerda won the 1953 World Cup of Golf.

Polo

Argentina's polo team won their first Olympic Gold Medal in 1924. Adolfo Cambiaso Jr., Gonzalo Pieres Jr. his brother Facundo, the Novillo Astrada brothers, the Heguy's, Tommy Iriarte are amongst the best polo players in the world. The three most important Polo tournaments in the world, The Argentine Open, The Hurlingham Open and the Tortugas Open are held in Argentina. In the history, Argentina was and nowadays is the leader of this international handicapped sport. However, less handicapped national teams have defeated Argentina. Argentina has been the uninterrupted world champion since 1949 and is today the source of most of the world's top ten players.

Olympic games

Argentina was one of eight founding members of the International Olympic Committee and first participated in the Olympic Games in 1900 with one single athlete. Argentine olympic competitors have, from 1900 to 2004, garnered 60 medals (gold, 15; silver, 23; bronze, 22); from 1924 to 1952 its athletes had good showings, giving the Argentine delegations global ranks of between 16th and 19th. From 1956 to 2000, however, Argentina did not win any gold medals, a situation that was reversed in 2004 when it acquired two and further so, in 2008.

Other sports

Padel tennis

Padel Tennis is played by four and a half million amateur players in thirty five thousand courts: it is the most participated sport in Argentina. [http://www.paddleitalia.it/numeri.htm] Professional players compete in national circuit of tournaments and Argentinian professional wrestling.

Cricket

Cricket has been played in Argentina since 1806, with the international side making its first appearance in 1868 against Uruguay. The sport regained some popularity due to the national team's participation at the World Cricket League, and the Argentina national women's cricket team at the Women's version of the ICC Americas Championship.


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