- (Football or Soccer)Portugal's most popular sport or game, for decades the national sport. There are at least two different theories about how soccer was introduced to Portugal and both are set in the late 1880s. One story is that soccer was introduced when Portuguese students with a soccer ball returned from England.Another version is that the sport was brought to Portugal by resident or visiting Britons. The game was first played only by foreigners, but soon became popular among Portuguese. Some of the earliest soccer games were played on fields in the property of the Eastern Telegraph Company in Carcavelos, outside Lisbon. The word in Portuguese, futebol, derives from the English word football. Organized by the entrepreneur Guilherme Pinto Basto, the first exhibition game between Portuguese and Britons was in 1888, and the first match, between Oporto and Lisbon was held in 1894, with King Carlos I in attendance.Especially after World War I, futebol acquired a mass, popular following. By midcentury, Portugal's periodical with the largest circulation was Lisbon's soccer newspaper Bola ("Ball"). After 1939, many soccer stadiums were constructed, and Portuguese fans became divided into supporters of two rival professional soccer teams: Sporting or Benfica, both from the Lisbon region. In the World Cup soccer games of 1966, Portugal's national team achieved fame and distinction, reaching the semifinals, only to lose to the Brazilians. Starring on Portugal's 1966 World Cup team was the celebrated Mozambique-born Eusébio. In that World Cup contest, Portugal became the first national team to reach the semifinals in their first appearance in the contest. In 2004, Portugal hosted the Euro cup, and Portugal's national team was defeated in the final by Greece. In May 2006, Portugal's national soccer team was ranked seventh out of 205 countries by the world soccer association (FIFA).
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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