Argentina is not only known for its rich history and beautiful sights, but it has also risen to a prominent place in the global sports landscape. The country offers a wide range of sports for its residents to watch and play, which is why sports are an important aspect of Argentina’s culture. Argentina is also one of the most successful sports-playing nations in the region, and the numerous awards won in various categories and tournaments are a testament to its skill and ability.
While there are plenty of global sports one can watch or participate in, this article highlights five of the most popular sports in Argentina.
Football in Argentina
Football is hands down the most popular sport in Argentina and is deeply embedded in the social and cultural practices of the country. Argentina has produced some of the greatest football players of all time, including Diego Maradona, the football idol who ignited the love for the sport in the residents, and now Lionel Messi, the legend from present times who led his team to victory in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Besides 2022, the national football team has also won the world cup twice, in 1978 and 1986. The team has won gold medals in the Olympics twice, Copa America fifteen times, and the Confederation Cup once. Argentina’s football clubs have also won various continental and intercontinental championships and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Another reason why football is so popular in Argentina is its rivalry with Brazil. The two teams have played against each other numerous times in the Confederation Cup and Copa America, while their clubs have battled it out many times in the Copa Libertadores. Argentina is one of the few national teams that have beaten Brazil.
While the country ranks so highly in men’s football, women’s football is way behind in terms of professionalism and popularity. The team, however, managed to win the South America Football Championship once in 2005 and was runners-up on three occasions. The team also played twice in the FIFA World Cup but finished in last place both times.
Rugby in Argentina
The next most popular sport in Argentina is rugby. It is not only popular as a spectator sport but also as a participatory sport. The national team, the Pumas, is one of the strongest in the world and regularly participates in the Rugby World Cup. The team finished third in the 2007 edition and qualified for the finals in 2015.
Argentina has also produced great talent in the past, with many of its competent players immigrating to Europe, particularly France and England. In 2012, the Tri-Nations Championship became the Rugby Championship when Argentina joined New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia and won the competition for the first time in 2014.
Basketball in Argentina
Basketball is a highly popular sport in Argentina. Although basketball has been played in Argentina for many years, and the team also won the FIBA World Championship in 1950, basketball did not become very popular until the early 2000s. The national team won gold at the Olympics in 2004 and performed successfully in the Olympics and World Championship in subsequent years.
The team finished third in the Olympics in 2008 and won second place in the World Championship in 2019. The top basketball league in the country is the Liga Nacional de Basquet. The league was established almost four decades ago and comprises twenty clubs.
Like football, women’s basketball is not as successful as men’s. The national team represents the country in international competitions, including the FIBA World Championship, where it finished in ninth place in 2006, its most prominent performance to date.
Tennis in Argentina
Tennis is another sport that is not only popular in Argentina, but the country is also very successful at the sport. Tennis has been played in Argentina since the nineteenth century, but it was initially limited exclusively to the middle and upper class.
However, things have changed considerably since then, and the early 2000s marked a new era for tennis in the country. Many Argentine players won various Grand Slam titles, including the World Team Cup in 2002. Over the years, the sport has evolved and is now enjoyed as a recreational activity by the masses.
Polo in Argentina
Last, but not least, we have polo. Argentina has a long and successful history in the sport, winning its first gold medal in the Olympics in 1924. The national polo team bagged its second medal twelve years later. Argentine has also won the World Polo Championship five times.
Argentina is also home to the three most popular tournaments in the world, including the Argentine Cup, the Tortugas Open, and the Hurligham Open. Argentine players, including the Novillo Astrada brothers, Adolfo Cambiaso, Tommy Iriarte, and Gonzalo Pieres, are some of the best polo players in the world.