Sport in Brazil

Sports in Brazil are those that are widely practiced and popular in the country, as well as others which originated there or have some cultural significance. Brazilians are heavily involved in sports. Football is the most popular sport in Brazil. Other than football, sports like volleyball, mixed martial arts, basketball, and motor sports, especially Formula One, enjoy high levels of popularity.


Main article: Football in Brazil

Football is the most popular sport in Brazil. The Brazil national football team, governed by the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, has won the FIFA World Cup a record 5 times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002,[1] and is the only team to succeed in qualifying for every FIFA World Cup competition ever held. Brazil also hosted the 1950 and 2014 World Cups, becoming the only country in South America to have hosted two World Cups (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile being the other former hosts). It is among the most favorite to win the trophy every time the competition is scheduled. After Brazil won its third World Cup in 1970, they were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy, when Pelé, one of the most recognized football players in history and all-time top scorer in the sport, led Brazil to three of those championships. The national football team has also won the Copa América 8 times, the Olympic football tournament once and is the most successful team in the FIFA Confederations Cup, with 4 titles. All of the leading players in the national teams are prominent in the football world, including Pele, Garrincha, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Romário, Ronaldinho, and Kaká in the men's game, and Marta in the women's game. Some of these players can be considered super-stars, achieving celebrity status internationally and signing multi-million club contracts, as well as advertisement and endorsement deals.


Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music, and is marked by deft, tricky movements that are often played on the ground or completely inverted. It also has a strong acrobatic component in some versions and is always played with music. It is a culturally significant sport, developed in colonial times by slaves. Nowadays, capoeira is practiced internationally and found its way into popular culture, through many computer games and movies.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, vale tudo, and mixed martial arts

Mixed martial arts is one of the most popular sports in Brazil. It is considered to be only behind football in terms in national popularity.[2]

Brazilian jiu-jitsu originated in Brazil in the 1910s, and emphasizes ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds. Hélio Gracie had a rather small build and changed jiu-jitsu (originating from Japan) to be used by anyone in a real fight situation. The belt progression system goes in the following order: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, Black, Red-black, and Red. Gracie Jiu Jitsu became known internationally in the 1990s, due to the very skilled fighters in the Gracie family, namely Hélio Gracie, Royce Gracie, and Rickson Gracie, which are also responsible for spreading the practice of vale tudo, meaning "anything goes", which evolved into mixed martial arts tournaments such as PRIDE, DREAM, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Many Brazilian fighters have become significant figures in various mixed martial art tournaments abroad, some notable Brazilian fighters in these tournaments include Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Vitor Belfort, Mauricio Rua, Jose Aldo, Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, and Lyoto Machida.


Footvolley was created by Octavio de Moraes in the 1970s. It is a mix of football and volleyball, where the players must use their feet and head to get the ball over the net and into the opponent's side, and is played on the beaches. It is one of the most popular beach sports in Brazil. Footvolley started out with 5 players on each team but later got cut to 2 players on each team and is still so to this day.


Maria Esther Bueno is the most successful Brazilian tennis player at the Grand Slam tournaments. She won seven single titles (four wins at the US Open and three at Wimbledon) and twelve doubles titles (five at Wimbledon, four at the US Open, two in the Roland Garros, including a mixed doubles, and once at the Australian Open). In the men's game, Gustavo Kuerten is the most successful Brazilian player, with three wins at Roland Garros (1997, 2000, 2001) as well as being ranked number one in the world for almost a full year. However, bad administration and lack of serious support resulted in poor results in the present years and scarcity of national-level competitiveness.

Today, Thomaz Bellucci is Brazil's best-known player, having been ranked among the top 30 players in the world according to the ATP Rankings. In doubles, the country has been stronger, especially with Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. The former has been ranked No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings and the latter has achieved a peak ranking of No. 3. Between them they have made appearances in nine Grand Slam finals with different partners in both mixed and men's doubles. Melo won the 2015 French Open Men's Doubles in partnership with Ivan Dodig, whilst Soares won the US Open Mixed Doubles title in 2012 (with Ekaterina Makarova) and 2014 (with Sania Mirza), the 2016 Australian Open Mixed Doubles with Elena Vesnina and the 2016 Australian Open and US Open Men's Doubles with Jamie Murray.


Anderson Varejão is one of Brazil's best basketball players.

Basketball is the third most popular sport in Brazil. The Brazilian national basketball team has won the Basketball World Championship twice, in 1959 and 1963. They have also been runners-up on two occasions in 1954 and 1970, as well as coming third on two occasions in 1967 and 1978, meaning that the Brazilian national basketball team has won in total six medals at the Basketball World Championship. The Brazilian national basketball team has also won three Olympic bronze medals (1948, 1960, 1964) and total of nine medals at the FIBA Americas Championship, three gold (1984, 2005, 2009) two silver (1988, 2001), and four bronze (1989, 1992, 1995, 1997). Oscar Schmidt is the most renowned male Brazilian player, and Hortência Marcari the most renowned female. Both were inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame.

The major basketball leagues are called Novo Basquete Brasil – the men's tournament – and Liga de Basquete Feminino – the female tournament. Various famous Brazilian players play in those leagues. In addition, on the men's side, various players are competing in the National Basketball Association and European leagues. A record nine Brazilians were on NBA rosters at the start of the 2015–16 seasonLeandro Barbosa, Bruno Caboclo, Cristiano Felício, Marcelo Huertas, Nenê, Raul Neto, Lucas Nogueira, Tiago Splitter, and Anderson Varejão.[3] On the women's side, players like Izi Castro Marques and Érika de Souza compete in the WNBA.


Autódromo José Carlos Pace, venue for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Brazil has produced three Formula One world champions: Emerson Fittipaldi (1972 and 1974), Nelson Piquet (1981, 1983 and 1987), and Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990 and 1991). In total, Brazil has 101 Formula One race wins (as of the 2009 Italian Grand Prix), distributed between Senna (41), Piquet (23), Fittipaldi (14), Felipe Massa (11), Rubens Barrichello (11), and José Carlos Pace (1).

In 1994, Brazil declared three days of national mourning after three time World Champion Ayrton Senna died during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He was a national hero and was a generous giver to charity.

There were two Brazilian drivers in the 2016 lineup, Felipe Massa of Williams and Felipe Nasr of Sauber.

The Brazilian Grand Prix has been on the Formula One calendar since 1972, currently held in October or November. Two circuits have been host to the race: Jacarepagua and Interlagos. The first one, located in Rio de Janeiro, hosted the 1978 race, and then between 1981 and 1989. From 1972 to 1977, in 1979 and 1980, and since 1990, the Brazilian Grand Prix takes place at the Interlagos circuit, in São Paulo.

The only Formula One constructor to ever be based in Brazil is Fittipaldi Automotive.

Brazil is also home to notable drivers in American Championship Car Racing. Cristiano da Matta was 2001 CART champion and Tony Kanaan was 2004 IndyCar champion, whereas Brazilians have won the Indianapolis 500 race 7 times: Emerson Fittipaldi (1989 and 1993), Hélio Castroneves (2001, 2002, and 2009), Gil de Ferran (2003) and Tony Kanaan (2013). The CART race, the Rio 400 at Jacarepagua in the late 1990s, whereas the IndyCar Series currently hosts São Paulo Indy 300 street race since 2010.

In the sports car racing scene, Raul Boesel won the 1987 World Sportscar Championship and got close to winning the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours, when he was second, and Ricardo Zonta won the 1998 FIA GT Championship. Boesel was part of the winning team at the 1988 Daytona 24 Hours, a race which was also won by fellow Brazilians Christian Fittipaldi (twice, in 2004 and 2014), Oswaldo Negri (2012), Kanaan (2015) and Pipo Derani (2016). Fittipaldi also won the United SportsCar Championship in 2014 and 2015, alongside Portuguese team-mate João Barbosa. Also the Mil Milhas Brasil, an endurance race, has the longest history in the Brazilian racing events.

Nelson Piquet Jr. was the inaugural Formula E champion in 2014-15.

The popularity of auto racing is rising, with the Stock Car Brasil and Fórmula Truck being broadcast nationally. The South American Formula Three series was mostly held in Brazil until 2013, and developed several South American circuit drivers. In 2014 it was succeeded by a revived Brazilian Formula Three Championship.

In motorcycle racing, the most prominent Brazilian racer in MotoGP as of now is Alex Barros, who is the most experienced racer of all time in the category, with 276 race starts and seven wins. The Brazilian motorcycle Grand Prix was held four times between 1987 and 1992, followed by the Rio de Janeiro motorcycle Grand Prix which was held nine times between 1995 and 2004.


Brazil at the 2006 Volleyball World Championship in Japan.

Brazil is the most successful country in volleyball.

The Brazil men's national volleyball team is currently the champion in 3 competitions, the Volleyball World Cup, the Volleyball World Championship and the Olympic Volleyball Tournament, and is ranked number 1 in the FIVB World Rankings.

Here is a record for achievements of the Brazilian men's volleyball team:

The Brazil women's national volleyball team is ranked number 2 in the FIVB World Rankings.

Here is a record for achievements of the Brazilian women's volleyball team:

Brazilian younger teams maintain the same success rate as the senior squads. As of March 25, 2007, in the FIVB men ranking for junior and youth, Brazil is placed first for women, while the men are placed second.

Beach volleyball has also given Brazilian athletes much success worldwide. Today, Brazil is the ruling country in volleyball, and it is Brazil's second most popular sport. The FIVB 2006 World Tour has finished with Brazilians on the top in both men and women rankings. Both, men and women, have won Olympic Games medals. Men have won gold in 2004 and 2016, and silver 2000 and 2008; and women have won golden in 1996, silver in 1996, 2000, and 2004, and bronze in 1996 and 2000. Brazilian athletes have also collected many medals in the World Tour.

Brazil has professional volleyball team competitions: the Superliga Masculina de Vôlei and its female counterpart, Superliga Feminina de Vôlei. Among the most successful teams are Minas, Banespa, and Santo André for the male league, and Rexona, Osasco, and Flamengo for the female league.


Lobo Bravo, a Brazilian rugby team.
Main article: Rugby union in Brazil

Rugby has been played in Brazil since at least 1888. Although it has been played in Brazil for as long as football, it has never enjoyed its popularity. The Brazil national rugby union team has so far never qualified for a Rugby World Cup. A domestic club competition, the Campeonato Brasileiro de Rugby, has been contested annually since 1964. Rugby returned to the Olympics in Rio 2016 (in the 7-a-side tournament form) - see Rugby sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics. As 2016 Olympic hosts, Brazil men's and women's teams automatically qualified.

Team handball

Team handball is popular in private schools, although it is gaining ground in public schools where it can be played on futsal grounds. The national team is considered the best in South America, and the sport is gaining in media coverage. The national league is broadcast on cable television, sponsored by Petrobras. Brazil women's national handball team were crowned world champions for the first time at the 2013 Championship.

American football

American football is played by young people in some states. The most popular varieties are flag football (especially in São Paulo) and beach American football (played in coastal cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Recife and João Pessoa).

Other sports

Skateboarding is a popular sport in Brazil. According to a study conducted by Datafolha, the estimated number of skateboarders in Brazil for 2003 was close to three million (the majority in the state of São Paulo). Many of the world's top skateboarders are Brazilian, including Bob Burnquist, Sandro Dias, Pedro Barros, Lincoln Ueda, Rodrigo Menezes, Luan de Oliveira, Felipe Gustavo, Rodil Ferrugem, Nilton Neves, Fabrizio Santos, Alex Carolino, Christiano Mateus, Karen Jones, Ricardo Porva, Daniel Vieira, and Og de Souza. Fabiola da Silva is well known for aggressive inline skating.

Athletics, swimming, judo and sailing are traditional sports in Brazil which have earned Olympic medals for the country. In athletics, well-known athletes are Adhemar da Silva, João Carlos de Oliveira, Joaquim Cruz, Maurren Maggi, Fabiana Murer and Thiago Braz da Silva.

Brazil has produced Olympic medallists in swimming such as Ricardo Prado, Gustavo Borges and Fernando Scherer. César Cielo is an Olympic champion, world champion and world-record holder.

Sailing and equestrianism are spectator sports, inaccessible to the general population. Well-known athletes include rider Rodrigo Pessoa and sailors Robert Scheidt, Marcelo Ferreira and brothers Lars and Torben Grael.

Brazil is a strong country in judo, which was brought and developed by its large Japanese community. Olympic medallists in the sport include Rogério Sampaio and Aurélio Miguel; João Derly and Tiago Camilo are world champions. Rafaela Silva won golds in the 2013 World Judo Championships and the 2016 Summer Olympics, both held in her hometown of Rio de Janeiro.

Boxing is popular, especially in northeastern Brazil; it is considered a working-class sport. Eder Jofre and Acelino "Popó" Freitas are former world champions.

In horse racing, Silvestre de Sousa was the British flat racing Champion Jockey in 2015.

Curling is a growing sport in Brazil; the creation of a national team was inspired by the audience for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. A temporary rink in the Eldorado Shopping Center in São Paulo featured Norwegian curler Linn Githmark and a winter-sports complex is planned, probably in the city of Campos do Jordão.

Frescobol is a native Brazilian sport similar to tennis and cricket, played with a wooden racket and soft rubber ball on the beach with no scoring system. It began during the 1960s on Ipanema beach. Biribol is another native sport created in Birigüi, São Paulo state. It is a kind of volleyball played in a swimming pool. Peteca (shuttlecock) is a native sport which originated from indigenous games.

Surfing is one of the most popular aquatic sports in Brazil, with several professional Brazilian surfers competing in the men's and women's ASP World Tour. Brazil is known for producing longboard surfers (such as former world champion Phil Razjman), big-rider surfers (such as Carlos Burle and two-time XXL award winner Maya Gabeira) and well-known bodyboarders.

Brazil at the Olympics

Due to the tropical and subtropical nature of the climate of Brazil, it has not traditionally competed in the Winter Olympics, although it made its first appearance in the 1992 Winter Olympics, and most recently participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics. However, Brazil has been competing in the Summer Olympics since 1920. Brazil is currently ranked 33rd in the overall ranking of medals in the Summer Olympics. Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first Olympic Games held in South America.

Sports in media

On television, football is by far the most watched sport on both free and paid television, games from regional teams often guarantee the top audience in its cities, also European football (specially UEFA Champions League) are guaranteed high viewing figures.

In motorsport, the main national competitions are Stock Car Brasil and Fórmula Truck. Formula One is considered the second most watched sport in terms of TV audience, behind football. The IndyCar Series also has a good fanbase in Brazil.

MMA in a short period of time has become the second most broadcast sport on Brazilian TV, due mainly to the resounding success of Brazilian fighters in the UFC.

Both men and women's volleyball enjoy very good viewing figures, especially the Brazilian national volleyball teams, Superliga and beach volleyball matches.

Basketball is also widely broadcast, prominently the national league (NBB) and the NBA. Basketball's level of popularity is returning to its historical levels.

In recent years, American football has been gaining fast popularity, with NFL games guaranteeing an audience on ESPN Brasil and Esporte Interativo. Also, some Torneio Touchdown (Brazilian League) games are shown by BandSports.[4] In 2016, the two main leagues merged into the Superliga Nacional.

Curling was the latest sporting phenomenon in Brazil in terms of audience. During the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship, held in late March in Canada, about 3.6 million people watched the channel SporTV, leading audiences among sports channels on pay TV. The audience was even greater during the men's worlds that year.[5]

Major sports leagues on Brazilian television
League Sport TV(s)
FIFA World Cup Football Globo, Band, SporTV, ESPN Brasil, Fox Sports and BandSports
Olympic Games International Olympic Committee
Various Sports
Globo, Record, Band, SporTV, BandSports and ESPN
Winter Games International Olympic Committee
Various Sports
Globo, Record, Band, SporTV and BandSports
Pan American Games Various Sports Record and SporTV
Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Football Globo, Band, SporTV and Premiere FC
Copa do Brasil Football Globo, Band, SporTV,
ESPN Brasil and Fox Sports
Copa Libertadores Football Globo, Fox Sports and SporTV
Copa Sudamericana Football Globo, Fox Sports and SporTV
UEFA Champions League Football ESPN Brasil, Globo, Band and TV Esporte Interativo
UEFA Europa League Football TV Esporte Interativo and ESPN Brasil
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Volleyball SporTV
FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Volleyball SporTV
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup Volleyball Band and SporTV
FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup Volleyball Band and SporTV
FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup Volleyball Globo and SporTV
FIVB Volleyball World League Volleyball Globo, Band and SporTV
FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Volleyball Globo, Band and SporTV
FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship Volleyball SporTV
FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship Volleyball SporTV
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Volleyball Band and SporTV
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Volleyball Band and SporTV
Superliga Brasileira de Voleibol Volleyball Globo, RedeTV! and SporTV
CEV Champions League Volleyball BandSports
Novo Basquete Brasil Basketball Globo and SporTV
NBA Basketball ESPN Brasil, Space and Sports+
FIBA Americas League Basketball Fox Sports
Euroleague Basketball Basketball Sports+
Liga Futsal Futsal SporTV and ESPN Brasil
NFL American football ESPN Brasil and TV Esporte Interativo
NCAA Football College Football ESPN Brasil
National Hockey League Ice hockey ESPN Brasil
Major League Baseball Baseball ESPN Brasil
Campeonato Brasileiro de Rugby Rugby Union SporTV
Heineken Cup Rugby Union ESPN Brasil
Super Rugby Rugby Union ESPN Brasil

See also


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