In Latin America soccer (or football) is not just a game. Called ‘fútbol’ in Spanish, or ’futebol’ in Portuguese, the sport arrived in Latin America in the late 1800s and has since become deeply ingrained in Latin America’s identity and culture. At the international level, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay stand out as the most valuable teams in Latin America. Meanwhile, other countries in the region, such as Mexico, Chile, Paraguay and Peru don’t fall far behind in terms of national teams’ market value, but have also gained notoriety due to the amount of players working abroad, and the large transfer revenue often at stake with the “exportation” of their most talented players.
Brazil, known as ‘O país do futebol’ or the country of soccer, 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 five times: in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and in 2002. Moreover, despite recent corruption scandals, its main soccer association, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF, as abbreviated in Portuguese) keeps growing. Last year, CBF’s net income surpassed 587 million Brazilian reals — or nearly 150 million US dollars.
Having each won the World Cup twice, Argentina and Uruguay also stand out in the region. The latter reached the 6th place in the world ranking of men's national soccer teams in 2019, while Argentina got the 11th position, after a remarkable performance in the mid-2010s. Founded by workers of a railway company over 120 years ago, Peñarol is today the Uruguayan club with the highest market value. While in Argentina, Boca Juniors tops the market value ranking, closely followed by its nemesis, the River Plate.
Mexico has never won the World Cup, and the last time the country made it to the quarterfinals was in 1986. Regardless, the three best-paid soccer players in Latin America work for Mexican teams: the French André-Pierre Gignac, the Chilean Eduardo Vargas — both members of the Tigres —, and the Mexican Oribe Peralta, from the América. Besides, two Mexican clubs are in Latin America’s top five soccer clubs in terms of team value. They are Guadalajara and Monterrey, which place right below Brazil’s Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Grêmio.
When it comes to women in football, Latin America still has a long way to go. In FIFA’s list of top 50 female national soccer teams, Brazil places 10th — below the U.S and Japan —, while Mexico and Colombia both place 26th — after Ukraine and Iceland. Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay follow the former, on the bottom of the ranking of female soccer players.
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In the following 8 chapters, you will quickly find the 43 most important statistics relating to "Soccer in Latin America".