Sports fans moving to Portugal from the US, Canada, and other countries are often surprised to learn that the Portuguese are just fanatic about their professional sports teams, if not more so. But the difference is that most people in Portugal passionately follow soccer rather than the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL.
While there are other professional sports in Portugal — including basketball and even American-style football — nothing compares to soccer. Or as it is known in Portugal, football (or “futebol”).
Soccer is hugely popular everywhere in Europe, with most countries having their own national leagues. In Portugal, the Primeira Liga is just as big as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL are in the US, if not even more popular. Every major city has its own team, all of whom compete against each other from early autumn to late spring.
Fans of each team are highly passionate and love to attend games and cheer on their team. Most matches are televised nationally so those who aren’t able to attend can watch from home. Games usually are played on weekends and one or two weeknights and during the biggest matches, it can often seem like the entire country comes to a stop so that everybody can watch.
Pick a Team
It’s typical for people moving to Portugal to get caught up in the excitement of both Portuguese and European football. Culturally, the sport is embedded into the very fabric of everyday society.
You likely will find yourself cheering for a particular team, either from your new hometown or one of the big nationally popular clubs such as FC Porto, Benfica, or Sporting CP of Lisbon. Soon you will find yourself adorned in your team’s jerseys, waving your team’s scarf, and tuning in to follow their season in both the Primeira Liga and international play when clubs from various nations compete against each other.
In Portugal, it’s hard to exaggerate how popular soccer is. It’s something you need to see and experience for yourself.