Called ‘fútbol’ in Spanish and ’futebol’ in Portuguese, the sport arrived in Latin America in the late 1800s and has since become deeply ingrained in its identity and culture. Nowadays, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia stand out as the most valuable teams in the region. Meanwhile, other Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Venezuela, have also gained notoriety due to the number of players working abroad, and the large transfer revenue often at stake with the “exportation” of their most talented footballers.
Brazil remains enthroned
Brazil, known as ‘O país do futebol’ or the country of football, tops the ranking of male national soccer teams in Latin America. Brazil is the only country in the world that has won the FIFA World Cup (881466) five times: in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. Moreover, and despite recent corruption scandals, its main soccer association, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF, as abbreviated in Portuguese) keeps growing. Before the COVID-19 impact, CBF’s net income surged by more than 250 percent to 190 million Brazilian reals— or approximately 47 million US dollars.
When it comes to women in football, Latin America still has a long way to go. By mid-2021, Brazil was the only team from the region included in the FIFA top 10 —right below France and Canada—, while Colombia and Mexico ranked 26th and 28th, respectively. Meanwhile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, and Paraguay were also included in the top 50 ranking in that year.
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Ana M. López
Research expert covering travel, tourism and hospitality