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Soccer’s importance to Hispanic and Latine communities

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HERNÁN PIÑERA | CREATIVE COMMONS

Photo by Hernán Piñera under CC BY-SA 2.0

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OCTOBER 13, 2022

The game of soccer has transcended the pitch and has become immersed in the cultures of countless Hispanic and Latine communities for years to come.

A closer look at the sport during a time like Hispanic Heritage month reveals that it has become embedded in the Hispanic and Latine communities — from pickup games in the street to gatherings of family and friends to watch games on TV.

It is reported that the sport that we know today was refined in England in the mid-19th century, with the first example of a team game played with a ball originating in Mesoamerican cultures over 3,000 years ago. Modern day Mesoamerica includes the countries of  northern Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and central to southern Mexico — Latine countries.

From then on, Hispanic and Latine communities continue to cultivate and place a lot of importance on the game of soccer. Even something as simple as watching the game is fundamental enough to bring family and friends together instantaneously. Every four years, the world’s eyes are on the FIFA World Cup, due to the immense representation of cultures that it provides.

The FIFA World Cup sees 32 of countries compete from all over the world, with Brazil appearing in all 21 tournaments and holding five World Cup Wins, which is the most out of any other team.

Many take pride in seeing their country being represented on the world stage, and soccer allows this to happen. Many major sporting events are limited to the United States or reserved for the Olympic Games, whereas constantly seeing soccer played by different Hispanic and Latine countries in various leagues provides consistent representation.

The World Cup is one of the most widely-watched sporting events in the world. It transcends borders and unites people of all nations in their love of futbol — while pitting them against each other through their respective teams. But the representation is often more than many can ask for, especially for groups that can be underrepresented in other areas of life.

For many, this representation is enough to develop and foster identity in Hispanic and Latine communities. People of all ages, especially children, watch soccer on TV, play video games and compete with their friends at school. It begs the explicit question: Does soccer play a part in your cultural identity?

Growing up, you often play in the street. You play with friends, with your family. Futbol means a lot in Latine households. It is an important aspect of community building, and it’s a fundamental part of many people’s formative years.

Many have similar experiences, for the game of soccer isn’t merely a game. It’s a means to get to know yourself, know other people and your heritage. It’s one thing to watch your city play in the World Series or NBA Finals, but to see your country be represented almost all over the world, all the time, is something that instills pride in your heritage. This is also true for communities outside of

Soccer is also a means of showing and teaching others about Hispanic and Latine heritage. Those unfamiliar with Hispanic and Latine versions of soccer and futsal can be directed to the pickup leagues of Bridge Barkada and Chicano Futsal. Both leagues play soccer and futsal games on basketball courts, which is intended to replicate the hard-surface play of futsal that originates from Hispanic countries.

You can play futbol anywhere, with anyone. You don’t need to speak the same language — you play the game, and that’s universal.

Contact Nicolas Chacon at 

LAST UPDATED

OCTOBER 13, 2022