Spain has always been recognized as a top performer across a wide variety of sports, but no one can deny the sentiment, football is king in the country. There have been many variations in the kind of football that has been played in Spain but the leading style today is English soccer or associated football. As a matter of fact, of the leading football clubs in the whole world, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, make the top of the list.
The Spanish national football team was also the first ever to earn a three-peat first place title in international tournament play. They were also named the 1964, 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Champions and the 2010 FIFA World Cup winners. Spain is considered one of the world’s powerhouses, not just in football (soccer) but in most major sports events.
Other sports that have experienced considerable success in Spain include basketball, cycling, futsal, handball, tennis, motorcycling and even Formula One racing. This is in part to the fact that they have garnered championships in all of these sports. The country has also hosted various international events most notably the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona. Some of the most popular Spanish sports stars includes tennis player Rafael Nadal who has won numerous Grand Slam titles and Alberto Contador who has taken home several Grand Tour titles that includes the Tour de France.
In addition to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the 1982 FIFA World Cup was also hosted by the Spaniards. Other highlights of Spanish sports are the football team bringing home the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 trophies and Óscar Pereiro, Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre's 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 victories in the Tour de France.
Popular Sports played in Spain
- Football (Soccer), Basketball, Tennis, Cycling, Handball, Motorsports, Futsal, and Skiing.
Traditional and Regional Sports of Spain
- Basque Pelota- a sport played on a court which involves hitting a ball against a wall using a hand, a racket, a wooden bat or a basket.
- Valencian Pilota- is a traditional handball sport played in the Valencian Community of Spain, south of Barcelona along the coast. The ball is typically struck with a bare hand in a match involving two teams.
- Bull Fighting- less popular today, especially in the North, it involves one or more bulls which are being fought in a bullring.
- Calva- a traditional Spanish sport in which an individual throws a piece of metal with the intent to knock down a piece of wood shaped like a bull's horns.
Athletes hailing from Spain
- Miguel Indurain (cycling)
- Carlos Sastre (cycling)
- Rafael Nadal (tennis) - Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010
- Seve Ballesteros (golf)
- Fernando Alonso (motorsports) - 2005 and 2006 Formula One champion
- 2022 Hockey Women's World Cup in Terrassa, Spain (co-hosted with Amstelveen, Netherlands)
Major Sports Facilities in Spain
- Nou Camp stadium (Barcelona)
- Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid)
2020 Pandemic Response: Spanish football could return by mid-June
While there is a long history of sports in Spain, and football a highlight in the annual calendar year, the coronavirus has put a halt to all activity. With 11 weeks remaining of the campaign in La Liga, Spain's second division play, the Copa del Rey final and second division playoff matches, authorities have determined when safe play could be resumed.
“Spain has done what it had to do, and new horizons are now opening up for all of us,” says Pedro Sánchez. “The time has come for many everyday activities to return”. Starting June 8th, La Liga, will return and restart its games – the remaining matches of the season will be played behind the closed doors.
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said he was desperate to return to the field. "I'm dying of excitement to return to the Santiago Bernabeu wearing the Real Madrid shirt and for things returning to as they were before," he told the club's television channel.
With Spain’s tremendous affinity for sports and its financial contribution to the nation’s economy, there is no doubt that the athletes, associations and institutions will do the utmost to persevere and reignite the excitement for the game and kick off play when the “all clear” is given.
Earn your degree in a country ripe with professional opportunities to work with the greatest teams of our time. While the coronavirus pandemic is a major setback globally, Spain’s commitment to the sports industry is strongly woven through the fabric of national unity and prosperity. Get your foot in the door while they rouse the fervor and excitement that has made Spanish sports legendary! Contact GBSB Global today to learn more about their online Master in Sports Management and your future career.