The National Sport of Bahrain is Soccer.
Soccer in Bahrain brings people together, fostering unity and pride through its passionate fan culture.
To learn more about sports culture in Bahrain, read our article about the most popular sports in Bahrain.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 1940s-1950s: The origins of soccer in Bahrain can be traced back to this period when the sport was introduced by British military personnel stationed on the island.
- 1957: The Bahrain Football Association (BFA) was founded, initiating an organized structure for the development and oversight of the sport.
- 1966: Bahrain’s national soccer team played their first international match against Kuwait.
- 1989: Bahrain participated in the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time, finishing in the group stage.
- 2004: The Bahrain national soccer team reached the final stages of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time, finishing in fourth place.
- 2006 & 2010: Bahrain narrowly misses qualifying for the FIFA World Cup on two occasions, with a playoff loss to Trinidad and Tobago in 2006 and to New Zealand in 2010.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer plays a significant role in Bahrain’s cultural identity, as the sport serves as a means to bring people together and foster a sense of unity and pride. Soccer matches, whether local or involving the national team, are well-attended events that generate enthusiasm and passion among the public.
In addition to traditional tournaments and league competitions, Bahrain’s soccer culture also includes friendly games and grassroots initiatives aimed at fostering sportsmanship and a love for the game. Neighborhoods and communities often organize soccer events, providing amateur players with opportunities to showcase their skills and connect with fellow enthusiasts.
During major regional and international soccer tournaments like the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup, public viewings and gatherings are common, as fans from all walks of life congregate to celebrate and support their national team’s participation and accomplishments in these prestigious events.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A standard match consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between.
- Objective: Each team aims to score by getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
- Players: Each team has 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: A player is offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second last opponent when the ball is played to them.
- Fouls: Direct and indirect free-kicks and penalty kicks are awarded for infringements of the rules.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Round and made of leather or another suitable material.
- Goalposts: Located at each end of the field, they are 7.32 meters wide and 2.44 meters tall.
- Kits: Teams wear distinguishing kits, with goalkeepers wearing different colors to stand out.
- Shin Guards: Protection for players from potential tackles or hits.
- Boots: Specialized shoes designed for the sport’s requirements.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
Recent years have seen the continued growth and development of soccer in Bahrain, with increased emphasis on youth academies and player development programs, aimed at nurturing homegrown talent and creating a strong foundation for future success in regional and international competitions.
Cultural and technological advancements have also contributed to the evolution of soccer in Bahrain, from updated training methods and facilities to wider media coverage and fan engagement through digital platforms. These developments have helped elevate the profile of the sport both locally and internationally.
Recent decades have witnessed a greater focus on the importance of women’s soccer, with the establishment of the Bahraini Women’s Football League in 2019, as well as the national women’s team participating in regional competitions. This highlights the continued progression and inclusiveness of the sport in Bahrain.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has been a regular fixture in the Olympic Games for over a century. However, Bahrain has yet to participate in soccer at the Olympics but has shown potential with their continuous improvement in regional and international competitions.
Despite not yet participating in Olympic soccer, the nation’s interest in the sport continues to grow due to global recognition and coverage during the Olympic Games. This fuels the aspirations of young athletes and further solidifies soccer as an integral part of Bahrain’s sports culture.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Sayed Mohamed Adnan: A key figure in Bahrain’s national team in the 2000s, Adnan has represented his country in numerous international competitions and had successful spells in the Qatari and Australian leagues. He was named the AFC Asian Player of the Year in 2010.
- Isa Salman: Salman has been a standout talent for the Bahraini national team, known for his dribbling skills and goal-scoring ability. He is widely regarded as one of Bahrain’s most skilled and influential players in recent years.
- A’ala Hubail: The prolific striker was the top scorer in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, helping Bahrain secure their best-ever finish in the competition. He also played an instrumental role in the team’s near-qualification for the World Cup on multiple occasions.
- Mohamed Hussein: A talented and experienced defender, Hussein has been a mainstay in Bahrain’s national team for a significant period and has actively contributed to its numerous successes in regional competitions.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- beIN Sports and Abu Dhabi Sports: Popular platforms for comprehensive coverage of regional and international soccer events, including the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup, as well as club football in Europe.
- Bahrain Sports TV: State-run sports channel that broadcasts local soccer matches, including the Bahraini Premier League, and occasionally provides coverage on international competitions.
- Local Stadiums: Live soccer experiences in iconic stadiums such as Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa, which hosts the national team matches and key domestic league games, fostering a vibrant atmosphere for fans to enjoy the sport.