A Guide to Football in Costa Rica

Football is the most popular sport in Costa Rica, and the country has a rich footballing history. Costa Rica has long been considered an exporter of footballers within Central America, with many players making their way to European professional football leagues. The Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) is the official association football governing body in Costa Rica and is in charge of the Costa Rica national football team and the Costa Rica women’s national football team.

If you’re a football fan visiting Costa Rica, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to watching games. The country has two professional football clubs, Liga Deportiva Alajuelense (La Liga) and Deportivo Saprissa, both of which have a passionate following. Anytime one of the Costa Rican teams is playing, you can be sure that the neighbourhood bars will be full of people watching the football game and drinking Imperial or Pilsen with their friends.

In this guide to football in Costa Rica, we’ll take a closer look at the country’s footballing culture and history, as well as the top teams and players to watch out for. We’ll also provide tips for attending a football match in Costa Rica, including where to buy tickets and what to expect from the atmosphere. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just looking to experience the local culture, this guide will help you make the most of your time in Costa Rica.

History of Football in Costa Rica

Football, or soccer as it is known in some parts of the world, has a rich history in Costa Rica. It is the national sport and is widely played and followed by the people of the country. The Costa Rican Football Federation (Federación Costarricense de Fútbol) is the governing body of football in Costa Rica and was founded in 1921 by seven clubs, including Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, Club Sport Cartaginés, and Club Sport Herediano.

The first two decades of football in Costa Rica were dominated by Herediano, who won ten titles. Other successful clubs during this period included La Libertad, Cartagines, and Alajuelense. The national team made its debut in the Independence Centenary Games held in Guatemala City in September 1921, winning their first game 7-0 against El Salvador. In the final, Costa Rica defeated Guatemala 6-0 to claim the trophy.

Costa Rica played its first FIFA World Cup in 1990, qualifying for the tournament for the first time in its history. The team reached the round of 16 in the 1990 World Cup, where they were eliminated by Czechoslovakia. Since then, Costa Rica has qualified for four more World Cups, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where they reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Football is a significant part of Costa Rican culture, and the sport has played a crucial role in shaping the country’s identity. The passion for football in Costa Rica is evident in the number of football clubs, leagues, and tournaments that exist in the country. The main professional league in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Primera División, run by UNAFUT. The league has 12 teams, and the season runs from August to May. There is also a second-tier league, Segunda División de Costa Rica, to which the last team of Primera is relegated after each season, and from which the champion is promoted to Primera. Additionally, there are many amateur players and football clubs throughout the country who play the sport for the love of the game.

In conclusion, football has a long and rich history in Costa Rica, and it is an integral part of the country’s culture. The Costa Rican Football Federation has played a vital role in developing the sport in the country, and the national team has achieved significant success on the international stage. With the passion and dedication of its players and fans, football will undoubtedly continue to thrive in Costa Rica for many years to come.

Costa Rica’s Performance in International Tournaments

FIFA World Cup

Costa Rica has participated in five FIFA World Cup tournaments, with their best performance being in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where they reached the quarterfinals. In the group stage of that tournament, they defeated Uruguay and Italy before drawing with England. They then went on to beat Greece in the round of 16 before losing to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

CONCACAF

Costa Rica has been a member of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) since 1961. They have won the CONCACAF Championship (now known as the CONCACAF Gold Cup) three times, in 1963, 1969, and 1989. They have also finished as runners-up on three occasions, in 1985, 2002, and 2019.

UNCAF

Costa Rica is also a member of the Central American Football Union (UNCAF). They have won the UNCAF Nations Cup (now known as the Copa Centroamericana) eight times, in 1991, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013, and 2014. They have also finished as runners-up on three occasions, in 1993, 2001, and 2011.

Overall, Costa Rica has a strong record in international football tournaments, particularly in the CONCACAF and UNCAF regions. Their performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup was a standout moment in their history, and they will be looking to build on that success in future tournaments.

Famous Costa Rican Football Players

Costa Rica has produced some of the most talented football players in the world. Here are a few of the most famous Costa Rican football players:

Keylor Navas

Keylor Navas is one of the most famous Costa Rican football players. He was born on December 15, 1986, in San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica. Navas is a goalkeeper who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. He has also played for Real Madrid, Levante, and Albacete. Navas has won numerous awards and accolades for his performances, including the UEFA Champions League three times, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup twice.

Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell is another famous Costa Rican football player. He was born on June 26, 1992, in San José, Costa Rica. Campbell is a forward who currently plays for Club León in Liga MX. He has also played for Arsenal, Villarreal, and Real Betis. Campbell has represented Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Paulo Wanchope

Paulo Wanchope is a retired Costa Rican football player. He was born on July 31, 1976, in Heredia, Costa Rica. Wanchope was a forward who played for numerous clubs throughout his career, including Derby County, Manchester City, and West Ham United. He also represented Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Bryan Ruiz

Bryan Ruiz is another retired Costa Rican football player. He was born on August 18, 1985, in San José, Costa Rica. Ruiz was a forward who played for numerous clubs throughout his career, including Fulham, Sporting CP, and PSV Eindhoven. He also represented Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Walter Centeno

Walter Centeno is a retired Costa Rican football player. He was born on October 6, 1974, in San José, Costa Rica. Centeno was a midfielder who played for numerous clubs throughout his career, including Saprissa, Genoa, and Puntarenas. He also represented Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

These are just a few of the most famous Costa Rican football players. Costa Rica has a rich history of producing talented football players who have gone on to achieve great success both domestically and internationally.

Costa Rica’s National Football Team

Costa Rica’s National Football Team, also known as “La Sele” or “Ticos,” is considered one of the best football teams in Central America. The team has a strong history of success, having reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and consistently ranking highly in the CONCACAF region.

The team’s home stadium is the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, located in San Jose, the country’s capital city. The stadium has a capacity of 35,000 spectators and is known for its lively atmosphere during matches.

The Costa Rica national football team has a long-standing rivalry with their Central American neighbours, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama. Matches between these teams are often highly anticipated and fiercely contested.

The team’s current manager is Luis Fernando Suarez, who has been in charge since 2021. Suarez has a wealth of experience in international football, having previously managed the Ecuador and Honduras national teams.

The current squad includes a number of talented players, including goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who has won multiple UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid, and forward Joel Campbell, who has played for clubs such as Arsenal and Frosinone.

Overall, Costa Rica’s National Football Team has a proud history and continues to be a strong contender in international football.

Major Football Clubs in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a rich football culture with many clubs competing in the top tier league, Primera División de Costa Rica. Here are some of the major football clubs in Costa Rica.

Liga Deportiva Alajuelense

Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, also known as La Liga, is one of the most successful football clubs in Costa Rica. They have won the Primera División de Costa Rica title 30 times, which is the most by any club in the country. They have also won the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup twice.

Deportivo Saprissa

Deportivo Saprissa is another successful football club in Costa Rica. They have won the Primera División de Costa Rica title 35 times, which is the most by any club in the country. They have also won the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup three times.

Club Sport Herediano

Club Sport Herediano is a popular football club in Costa Rica. They have won the Primera División de Costa Rica title 28 times, which is the second-most by any club in the country. They have also won the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup once.

Club Sport Cartagines

Club Sport Cartagines is a historic football club in Costa Rica. They have won the Primera División de Costa Rica title twice and have been runners-up in the league on several occasions.

These four clubs have a significant following in Costa Rica and are known for their passionate fan base. They have produced many talented players who have gone on to represent the Costa Rica national football team.

Costa Rican Football Leagues

Football is a beloved sport in Costa Rica, and the country has a well-established league system that features several professional and amateur leagues. In this section, we will take a closer look at the two main professional leagues in the country.

Costa Rican Primera División

The Costa Rican Primera División, also known as Liga de Fútbol de Primera División or Liga FPD, is the top professional association football division in Costa Rica. It is administered by the Unión de Clubes de Fútbol de la Primera División (UNAFUT), which is responsible for organising and overseeing the league.

The league consists of 12 teams, each of which plays 22 matches during the regular season. The top four teams at the end of the regular season qualify for the playoffs, which determine the league champion. The team that finishes last is relegated to the Segunda División de Costa Rica.

Segunda División de Costa Rica

The Segunda División de Costa Rica is the second-tier league in the Costa Rican football league system. It consists of 16 teams, with the champion being promoted to the Primera División at the end of the season.

The league is organised by the Liga Nacional de Fútbol, which is responsible for overseeing and regulating the league. The format of the league is similar to that of the Primera División, with each team playing 30 matches during the regular season.

Overall, the Costa Rican football league system is well-organised and competitive, with several talented teams and players competing at the highest level. Whether you are a fan of the sport or simply interested in learning more, the Costa Rican football leagues offer plenty of exciting action and entertainment.

Football Culture in Costa Rica

Football, or “fútbol” as it is known locally, is an integral part of Costa Rican culture. It is the most popular sport in the country and is played and watched by people of all ages and backgrounds. The national team has had considerable success on the international stage, including qualifying for the FIFA World Cup four times and winning the Copa Centroamericana (Central American Cup) nine times.

The Costa Rican football league, known as the Liga FPD, is the top professional league in the country. It is made up of 12 teams and is overseen by the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL). The league season runs from August to May, with each team playing 22 games. The team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned the champion.

Football matches in Costa Rica are known for their lively and passionate atmosphere. Fans are known to create a carnival-like atmosphere, with music, singing, and dancing in the stands. The most popular teams in the country include Deportivo Saprissa, Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, and Club Sport Herediano.

Football is also an important part of the school system in Costa Rica. Many schools have their own teams, and inter-school tournaments are held throughout the year. The sport is seen as a way to promote teamwork, discipline, and physical fitness among young people.

Overall, football is deeply ingrained in Costa Rican culture and is a source of pride for the country. Whether it is watching a professional match or playing a game with friends, football is a way of life for many Costa Ricans.

Football Stadiums in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a football-loving nation, and it has several world-class stadiums that host exciting matches throughout the year. Here are some of the most popular football stadiums in the country:

Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto

Located in the city of Alajuela, the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto is home to the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, one of the most successful football clubs in Costa Rica. The stadium has a capacity of 17,895 and is known for its electric atmosphere during matches. It has undergone several renovations over the years, including the installation of a new lighting system and the addition of VIP boxes.

Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá

The Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá is located in the capital city of San Jose and is home to Deportivo Saprissa, one of the most popular football clubs in the country. The stadium has a capacity of 23,112 and is known for its intimidating atmosphere during matches. It has undergone several renovations over the years, including the installation of a new sound system and the addition of a new scoreboard.

Both stadiums are known for their passionate fans, and attending a match at either of these stadiums is an unforgettable experience. If you’re a football fan visiting Costa Rica, make sure to catch a match at one of these iconic stadiums.

Costa Rican Football in the Media

Football is an integral part of Costa Rican culture, and it is no surprise that the sport is widely covered in the media. From newspapers to television channels, Costa Ricans have access to a wealth of information about their favourite teams and players.

One of the most prominent sources of football news in Costa Rica is La Nación, a daily newspaper that has been covering the sport for decades. La Nación is known for its in-depth analysis of matches, players, and teams, and it is highly regarded by football fans across the country. The newspaper also publishes an annual census of Costa Rican footballers playing in professional leagues around the world, known as “Legionnaires.”

In addition to La Nación, there are several other newspapers and websites that cover football in Costa Rica. These include Diario Extra, Al Día, and Teletica Deportes. These sources provide up-to-date information on the latest matches, scores, and player transfers, as well as interviews with coaches and players.

Television is also an important medium for football coverage in Costa Rica. The national broadcaster, Teletica, airs live matches and highlights on its sports channel, Teletica Deportes. Other channels, such as Repretel and Multimedios, also provide coverage of football matches and news.

Social media has also become a popular platform for football news and discussion in Costa Rica. Fans can follow their favourite teams and players on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and engage in lively debates about the sport.

Overall, the media landscape for football in Costa Rica is diverse and comprehensive, providing fans with a wealth of information and analysis about the sport they love.

Costa Rican Players in Foreign Leagues

Football in Costa Rica has a long history of producing talented players, many of whom have gone on to play in foreign leagues. These players, known as “legionnaires,” have made a significant impact on football around the world.

During 2006, Costa Rica had 19 players in European professional football leagues, making it a significant exporter of footballers within Central America. The newspaper La Nación has prepared an annual census of these “Legionnaires” since 1994.

Some of the most successful Costa Rican players in foreign leagues include Keylor Navas, who has won multiple UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid and played for Paris Saint-Germain. Bryan Ruiz has played for clubs in Portugal, England, and Brazil, while Joel Campbell has played in Spain, England, and Italy.

Costa Rican players have also made an impact in the Mexican Primera Division, with players such as Celso Borges, Francisco Calvo, and Johan Venegas playing for clubs in Mexico.

Overall, Costa Rican players have proven to be successful in foreign leagues, showcasing their skills and helping to raise the profile of football in Costa Rica.

Future of Football in Costa Rica

Football in Costa Rica has a bright future ahead, with numerous initiatives in place to develop and promote the sport at all levels. The country has already achieved significant success in football, with the national team qualifying for four FIFA World Cups and reaching the quarterfinals in 2014.

Looking ahead, Costa Rica is set to host the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will take place in August and September of that year. This is a major event for the country and will provide a significant boost to the development of women’s football in Costa Rica. The tournament will feature 16 teams from around the world, and all matches will be played in four venues across the country.

In addition to hosting major events, Costa Rica is also investing in grassroots football development. The Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) has launched several initiatives to promote the sport at the youth level, including the creation of a national youth league. The league features teams from all over the country and provides a platform for young players to develop their skills and compete at a high level.

Furthermore, the country is also investing in the development of football infrastructure. The National Football Centre, located in San Rafael de Alajuela, is a state-of-the-art facility that provides training and development opportunities for players, coaches, and referees at all levels. The centre features multiple training pitches, a gymnasium, and other amenities to support football development in the country.

Overall, the future of football in Costa Rica looks bright, with significant investment in infrastructure and youth development, as well as the upcoming hosting of major international events. These initiatives will help to ensure that football continues to thrive in Costa Rica and that the country remains a major force in international football.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular sport in Costa Rica?

Football, also known as soccer, is the most popular sport in Costa Rica. It is deeply ingrained in the culture and is played by both children and adults.

Who is the best soccer team in Costa Rica?

Deportivo Saprissa and Liga Deportiva Alajuelense are two of the most successful and popular football teams in Costa Rica. The rivalry between these two teams is fierce and attracts a lot of attention from fans.

What is the name of the Costa Rica football league?

The Costa Rican Primera Division is the top professional football league in Costa Rica. It consists of 12 teams and is divided into two seasons: the Apertura and the Clausura.

Where is the San Jose Costa Rica soccer stadium located?

The Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica is the largest and most important stadium in Costa Rica. It is located in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.

What is the schedule for Costa Rica soccer games?

The schedule for Costa Rican football games varies depending on the season and the teams involved. The best way to stay up-to-date with the latest fixtures is to check the official website of the Costa Rican Primera Division.

How good are Costa Rica at football?

As of 2023, the Costa Rica national football team is ranked 39th in the FIFA World Rankings. The squad consists of 23 players with an average age of 25.4 years. The team’s total market value is €10.75 million.

This ranking and market value suggest that Costa Rica has a competitive football team, particularly within the CONCACAF region, but it is not among the top-tier teams globally. Performance in international competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, can also be an important indicator of a national team’s strength

How does the Costa Rica national football team rank internationally?

As of June 2023, the Costa Rica national football team is ranked 39th in the world by FIFA. The team has had some success in international competitions, including reaching the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

What is football called in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, as in most of the world, football is referred to as “fútbol”. This term is derived from the Spanish word for football and is pronounced similarly to “football” in English. The sport is extremely popular in Costa Rica, as it is in many Latin American countries.


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