Sport in Portugal

Sport in Portugal

Football is the most popular and practised 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, 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 and Cup of Portugal 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
*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 a great tradition in athletics, and is the place of birth of legends like Rosa Mota, Carlos Lopes, Fernanda Ribeiro and Manuela Machado. Rui Silva, in men's athletics, has won several gold, silver and bronze medals in the European, World and Olympic Games competitions. Francis Obikwelu in the 100 m and the 200 m, had silver in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Naide Gomes in pentathlon and long jump, is another Portuguese elite athlete. In the triathlon, Vanessa Fernandes has won a large number of medals and major competitions across the world, including the 2008 silver medal in the Olympics. Nelson Évora is world and olympic champion in triple jump.


Cycling, with Volta a Portugal being the most important race, is also a popular sports event and include professional cycling teams such as S.L. Benfica, Boavista, Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira, and União Ciclista da Maia. Noted Portuguese cyclists include, among others, names as Joaquim Agostinho, Marco Chagas, José Azevedo and Sérgio Paulinho.


:"See main:" Football in Portugal
Football is the most popular and practised sport in Portugal, and the country has produced an amazing amount of talented footballers who became known worldwide. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Rui Costa, Nani, Deco, Simão Sabrosa, Quaresma, Fernando Couto, Paulo Sousa, Vitor Baia, Paulo Futre, Rui Barros, Pauleta and the top scorer of 1966 World Cup striker Eusébio da Silva Ferreira ("Eusébio") with 9 goals, are among the most noted Portuguese football players. Portuguese football managers are also noteworthy, with José Mourinho, Carlos Queirós, 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, 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 S.L. Benfica, Sporting and F.C. 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.


:"See main:" Futsal in PortugalThe 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

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.

In fencing, Joaquim Videira won the silver medal at the épée 2006 World Fencing Championships and has conquered numerous medals in the world cup.

Motor sports

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) and, also famous, Rally Madeira). Off-road (with the Baja Portugal 1000 and recently Lisboa-Dakar) events also have international recognition.


:"See main:" Portugal at the OlympicsBeing 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 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.

Rink hockey

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, S.L. Benfica, Sporting CP, and Óquei de Barcelos.

Rugby union

:"See main:" Rugby union in PortugalThe 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 team of rugby sevens has performed well, becoming one of the strongest teams in Europe, and proved their status as European champions in several occasions.

Water sports

The country has also achieved notable performances in sports like surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and sailing.

Manuel Centeno is also a major name in Portuguese sports as he conquered the national, European and the world titles, in 2006 in bodyboarding after being the European champion back in 2001.

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 will probably be part of the main surfing competition. Ruben Gonzalez is an international acclaimed surfer and the only one to acchieve the national title in two consecutive tournaments.


Golf is also worth mentioning, since its greatest players play in the sunny region of the Algarve during the "Algarve Open".

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).

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