Sport in South America

Association football is the most popular sport in almost all South American countries. There are a wide range of sports played in the continent of South America. Popular sports include rugby union, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, volleyball, hockey, beach volleyball, motorsports and cricket. South America held its first Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Two years prior to this, major cities in Brazil hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Association football

South America and Europe share the supremacy over the sport, as all national team winners in FIFA World Cup history and all winning teams at the FIFA Club World Cup have come from these two continents. Brazil holds the world record at the FIFA World Cup with five titles in total. Argentina has three titles and Uruguay have two. So far four South American nations have hosted the tournament including its first edition in Uruguay (1930). The other three were Brazil (1950, 2014), Chile (1962), and Argentina (1978).

South America is home to the longest running international football tournament; Copa América, which has been regularly contested since 1916. Uruguay have won the Copa America a record 15 times, beating hosts Argentina in 2011 to reach 15 titles (they were previously equal on 14 titles each during the 2011 Copa America).

The continent has produced many of the most famous and most talented players in history, including Ricardo Bochini, Alberto Spencer, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Arsenio Erico, Pelé, Teófilo Cubillas, César Cueto, Enzo Francescoli,, Elías Figueroa, Diego Maradona, Carlos Valderrama, Iván Zamorano, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo, Claudio Pizarro, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi.


Basketball is particularly popular in South America. One of the most important achievements was the Argentina gold medal in Men's Basketball at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Argentina won the World Championship in 1950. In Brazil, basketball became popular with the Brazilian national basketball team winning the World Championship two times (1959, 1963). Also, in Venezuela, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay, basketball is widely played & very popular.

The Brazil women's basketball team is also one of the best teams in the world having won the 1994 FIBA World Championship for Women and with three players in the Hall of Fame: Hortência Marcari, Maria Paula Silva and Janeth Arcain

The FIBA World Cup took place in South America seven times: Argentina (1950, 1990), Brazil (1954, 1963), Chile (1959), Uruguay (1967) and Colombia (1982).


Volleyball is the second most popular sport in Brazil. The country have a total of eight olympic gold medals at the sport (5 in indoor,3 in the beach). The women's volleyball in Peru, already had a standout in the '80s, where they won a silver medal olympic. Today the sport is growing in Argentina (male bronze olympic medal) and Venezuela.


South America have several drivers who won the Formula One championship multiple times, including five-time champion Juan Fangio of Argentina, and Brazilian drivers Emerson Fittipaldi (2 titles), Nelson Piquet (3 titles), and Ayrton Senna (3 titles). Brazil has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix every year since 1973 and the Argentine Grand Prix has hosted Formula One on 20 occasions.

In Motos, South America had notable drivers as Johnny Cecotto, Carlos Lavado, Alex Barros, Sebastian Porto, Martín Cárdenas and Yonny Hernández. Also, South America has hosted the Moto GP in Venezuela (1977–1979), Brazil (1987–1989, 1992; 1995–1997, 1999–2004 as Rio Grand Prix) and Argentina (1961–1963, 1981–1982, 1987, 1994–1995, 1998–1999, 2014–present).

The Dakar Rally is also hosted by South America from 2009 to 2019 (mostly in Chile and Argentina).

Field Hockey

Very popular in Argentina (2 times World Champion).

Rink Hockey

Argentina has won the world cup in 5 times.


Baseball is the most popular sport in Venezuela. In Colombia, Baseball is very popular in their north region, and has been gaining popularity recently in the other regions of Colombia. A wide list of players from Venezuela and Colombia are in the major leagues in the United States. Both countries are the only ones in this region to participate in the World Baseball Classic (plus Brazil) and the Caribbean Series.

Rugby union

Rugby union is becoming popular in South America, following the recent successes of Argentina in recent Rugby World Cup competitions (3rd place in 2007 and 4th place in 2015). The popularity of the game has spread across the continent. Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Guyana, Peru and Bolivia all have Rugby Federations.[1]


South America has produced a number of talented tennis players such as four-time Grand Slam and Masters winner Guillermo Vilas, and the first Latin American ranked number 1 in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Marcelo Rios, the first Latin American World number 1 in women tennis and the first Latin American to win a Grand Slam Anita Lizana, three-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten, US Open winner Gabriela Sabatini, French Open winners Gastón Gaudio and Andrés Gómez, 2009 US Open winner Juan Martín del Potro, double Olympic Gold medalist Nicolás Massú, and Maria Bueno, the greatest Brazilian tennis player.


Golf is growing in popularity in both Brazil and Argentina but is not widely played elsewhere in South America. Bolivia has the highest tournament class golf course in the world.

Jai Alai

Jai alai or Basque pelota is played in many parts of South America. Although this sport is mostly played in Spain and France, there are federations of Basque ball in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Due to the origin of the game, there are many good players who are Basques, either natives or from the Basque diaspora.[2]


Cricket is the most popular sport in Guyana. Apart from there, is mostly played in the Southern Cone, especially in areas settled by English people. Although a number of South American nations have teams, none of them are major, except for the Guyana national cricket team, which plays in inter-regional competitions in the Caribbean. Guyana is also an independent nation represented by the West Indies cricket team, the only team in the Americas with Test status.

South American Cricket Championship is a limited overs cricket tournament played since 1995 between the national teams of the continent with North American teams also often invited to participate. It is currently played annually but until 2013 was usually played biennially.

Variants of street cricket are also played, such as bete-ombro in Brazil.


Polo is popular in some parts of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.


See also


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