Most popular sports in Portugal
What sport is Portugal most famous for? Football. What is the most important and most viewed and followed sport in Portugal? Football. It comes with no surprises, obviously. Football rules the country, the media, newspapers, everything. It's actually the most talked about subject among people, more than economy, politics, and culture. Its astounding. It's by a landscape the biggest sport in Portugal. The most powerful club is Sport Lisboa e Benfica, four time Liga NOS (Portuguese main league) champion (as of writing in 2017), and by far has the highest number of fans. Other noteworthy clubs are the main club in Oporto, one of the most important cities in Portugal, Futebol Clube Do Porto, that won the Champions League in 2003/2004, UEFA Cup in 2002/2003 and UEFA European League in 2010/2011. These are some of the biggest achievements in recent history for Portuguese clubs in international competitions. Third on the list is the sleeping giant, Sporting Clube de Portugal which hasn't won the national league since 2001/2002 but still has a huge number of supporters around the country, mainly in Lisbon. Sporting has one of the most prestigious and best youth academies worldwide, named Alcochete Academy. Many of the players who emerged from the academy are well known, the main one being Cristiano Ronaldo who played 11 years in Sporting before becoming a member of Manchester United. Other honorable players are Luis Figo (winner of one FIFA Ballon d'Or), Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, and others. The Portuguese National Team that won the UEFA EURO 2016 was mainly formed by members of that academy. In Portugal, eight main European leagues are broadcasted and followed - La Liga (Spain), Premier League (England), Ligue 1 (France), Serie A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany), Eredivisie (Netherlands) and Russian League. With the growth of soccer in the USA, Portugal televises MLS (USA national league) as well. The main international league is clearly La Liga because of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Besides that, Premier League attracts a lot of people because of the high intensity and high competitive level of football that's played in England.
Quite surprisingly, one might say, given the limited success the National League (LPB) and the National Team has achieved. But because of the popularity of international leagues, basketball gets the second spot among the top 3 sports in Portugal. Mainly thanks to the NBA that has been rising in popularity lately. One game per day is televised and Portugal also broadcasts NBA TV that is one of the premier channels of the league. LeBron James, the biggest star in the NBA and probably the most important athlete in the US, creates a lot of attention and even friction between the supporters. Portuguese people love to witness great play in sports. Beside the NBA, there's also Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, where the best European teams face each other, similar to UEFA Champions League in football. It's very well regarded and appreciated by the public in general because of its quality.
Even though there aren't many successful Portuguese Tennis players in history, still it is one of the main sports in Portugal. Recently Joao Sousa reached the highest ATP ranking ever by a Portuguese, reaching the 28th place in 2016. But the main reason for its popularity is because of one of the best rivalries that the sport has ever seen: Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer. There's a huge fan base for these legends that has made tennis one of the most viewed sports in Portugal. There's also an ATP Tournament named Estoril Open that attracts a lot of people in Portugal.
If one only considers federate athletes - handball is the second most played sport in Portugal. Even though it isn’t nearly the most popular sport in terms of viewership, it deserves a place in the top 5 sports in Portugal. There is also Beach Handball that is played all summer all over the Portuguese coast. College Handball is one of the main attractions among teens in college years.
Roller Hockey (Quad)
Similar to handball, rink hockey doesn’t attract much in terms of television viewership even though it televises the national league. The reason it stands in this place is based on its history. It’s by far the most successful team sport in the country. The national team has already won 15 World Cup titles and 20 Europe Cups that makes them the second most titled national team in the history of the sport.
It's one of the most viewed sports in Portugal. This phenomenon started with Ayrton Senna, one of the most beloved pilot in the history, who died tragically. He was the pioneer for the interest in this sport that cemented in the country. Then it became Schummacher's dominance that conquered everything. On Sundays, in Portugal, at lunch time it almost became a ritual to watch F1. Even though that absurd popularity has decreased slightly in the recent years, it still remains on the top 10 most important sports in Portugal.
The main league of MMA - UFC, became a huge success worldwide when Brock Lesner (former WWE Superstar) took his talents to the UFC. After him came Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey who conquered the league by storm. Televisions started broadcasting UFC main events, MMA was more and more a target for young Portuguese and then it became one of the most popular sports in Portugal. Their biggest star, Andre Fialho, showed the world what he's capable of defeating the likes of Manny Meraz in 29 seconds at the Bellator, one of the secondary leagues of MMA, becoming the prominent MMA star of Portugal.
In Portugal it's unusual that an American sport has huge number of supporters because it's way different from the traditional European culture. Still, American Football has gained in the number of supporters in Portugal. NFL - the most popular league in the US, has seen increasing popularity in Portugal over the last decade. This year the Dallas Cowboys (one of the most popular teams in the USA) became the favorite franchise in Portugal and has given huge boost to the popularity of American Football in the country. The national league (Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Americano) was created in 2009/2010 and its first winner was Lisboa Navigators. After 8 years, the league has now become somewhat popular and aims to make American Football one of the major sports in Portugal.
In the beginning of the century WWE surprised everyone in Portugal. It was the most astounding sports related phenomena that happened in Portugal mainly concerning the kids who grew up in the 90s and 00s. Every weekend Raw and Smackdown (the main shows of wrestling in the WWE) were broadcasted and one can say that wrestling reached its peak of popularity then. The next generation of kids didn't pay that much attention to it but still we can rank it at the 10th spot in the list.
In 2004, Portugal had one of the most important moments in the history of cycling when Sergio Paulinho won a silver medal in Athens. Recently, Rui Costa has become the face of the nation by winning multiple titles, and made history in 2013 by becoming the world champion. Cycling is definitely a well regarded and popular sport all around the country.
Since Portugal has a coastline with amazing beaches (Peniche, Ericeira, Nazare, Sagres) it is only natural that surfing enters the list of Portugal's main sports. The number of surfers around the country is really huge, specially in the summer. Lately a star rose and became the best surfer ever in the history of Portugal. His name is Tiago Pires and he is considered the 21st best surfer in the world.