The National Sport of Paraguay is Soccer.
Soccer in Paraguay is passionately embraced, connecting generations and celebrating the nation’s rich football heritage.
To learn more about sports culture in Paraguay, read our article about the most popular sports in Paraguay.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 1906: The foundation of the Paraguayan Football Association (Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol or APF).
- 1910: Creation of the Paraguayan Primera División, the top-tier football league in Paraguay.
- 1930: Paraguay participates in the first FIFA World Cup held in Uruguay.
- 1953: Paraguay wins its first Copa América title, held in Peru.
- 1979: Inauguration of the Defensores del Chaco Stadium in Asunción, now the country’s largest stadium.
- 1999: Paraguay achieves its best ever performance in a FIFA World Cup by reaching the Round of 16 in France.
- 2004: Paraguay’s second Copa América victory, co-hosted by Peru and Colombia.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer plays a vital role in Paraguayan culture, fostering national pride and unity. From children playing on dusty streets to adults gathering in stadiums, soccer serves as a means to bring people together. It is not uncommon to see passionate discussions about local clubs or the national team in streets, cafes, and homes across the country.
Soccer events such as the “Superclásico,” a derby match between rivals Club Olimpia and Club Cerro Porteño, are highly anticipated and often accompanied by elaborate pre-game celebrations. Additionally, the Paraguayan Primera División and Copa Paraguay, a domestic cup competition, are significant events that captivate fans and instill a strong sense of local identity.
During international tournaments like the FIFA World Cup or the Copa América, Paraguayan fans come together to support their national team. People congregate in squares, parks, and stadiums, proudly displaying their red, white, and blue colors to cheer on Los Guaraníes – the nickname for Paraguay’s national team.
#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 tries 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
In recent decades, Paraguayan soccer has undergone significant developments, with a focus on improving infrastructure and nurturing young talent. Domestic clubs and the national team have implemented modern training techniques, resulting in a more competitive and attractive playing style.
Paraguayan soccer has embraced technology, and the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) at the national level has increased the sport’s integrity. Social media has also significantly influenced soccer in Paraguay, with clubs and players using various platforms to reach their fans and to promote the sport.
The visibility of Paraguayan soccer has grown internationally, as clubs like Club Olimpia and Club Cerro Porteño have made strong runs in the prestigious Copa Libertadores tournament. Additionally, talented Paraguayan players, such as Roque Santa Cruz and Oscar Cardozo, have achieved successful careers in Europe, inspiring the next generation of Paraguayan talents.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has been a prominent part of the Olympic Games, with the men’s competition starting in 1900 and the women’s in 1996. Paraguay’s national team has participated in multiple Olympic tournaments, notably winning the silver medal in the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, which remains their highest achievement in Olympic soccer.
The Olympics have served as a valuable platform for soccer players from various nations, including Paraguay, to gain global recognition and develop their careers. The exposure and experience gained in Olympic competitions have been significant for Paraguayan soccer and have contributed to its growth and popularity both nationally and internationally.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Roque Santa Cruz: Renowned as one of Paraguay’s greatest forwards, Santa Cruz has had a successful European career with clubs like Bayern Munich, Blackburn Rovers, and Malaga. He has represented Paraguay in three FIFA World Cups.
- Carlos Gamarra: Widely regarded as one of the best Paraguayan defenders, Gamarra had a distinguished career in South America and Europe. He is a former captain of the national team and participated in three FIFA World Cups.
- Óscar Cardozo: An accomplished goal-scorer, Cardozo has enjoyed success with European clubs like SL Benfica. He has represented Paraguay in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and several Copa América tournaments.
- Nelson Valdez: A versatile forward, Valdez has played for clubs in Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. He has represented Paraguay in multiple FIFA World Cups and Copa América editions.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- Televisión Pública Paraguay and Tigo Sports: The two major broadcasters that offer comprehensive coverage of Paraguayan Primera División matches, along with international leagues and competitions.
- ESPN and Fox Sports: These international sports channels provide coverage of European soccer leagues, the Copa Libertadores, and major international tournaments.
- Live in Paraguay: Enjoy thrilling live soccer matches at renowned stadiums such as Estadio Defensores del Chaco (Asunción), Estadio Feliciano Cáceres (Luque), and Estadio La Nueva Olla (Asunción), which are popular venues for both domestic and international fixtures.