Sports in Brazil

Sports in Brazil
Updated 2022-03-25 13:43

Brazilians enjoy exercise and athletics. Perhaps this is no surprise, as the weather makes it ideal to spend time outdoors. Brazilians are a gregarious bunch, and so they naturally enjoy team activities. You'll find that Brazilians watch and play many types of sports. But without question, the sport of Brazil is soccer (futebol).


From Pelé to Ronaldinho to Neymar, Brazil has a long tradition of excellence on the football field. Brazil has won five World Cup titles, a fact that Brazilians are very proud of (just please be courteous enough not to mention their complete domination by Germany in 2014).

Football is by far the most popular sport among Brazilians. The country has many stadiums, including the world-famous Maracanã in Rio where you can take a tour, or if you're keen enough, go to enjoy a game. Across the country, most professional matches are held on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. Soccer is played virtually year-round, pausing only briefly around Christmas.

If you enjoy playing yourself, it's easy to find a game. You'll see many on beaches everywhere, both organized and spontaneous. But be sure to bring your A-game, as Brazilians play for keeps!

Good to know:

In Brazil, it's unacceptable to not have a favorite team. Even if you don't care for the game, you must select one.

Useful link:

Maracanã Stadium tour


Brazil has almost 7,500 kilometers of coastline, so it's no surprise that water sports are popular here, and they run the gamut.

Surfing is quite popular in many areas. While you won't find waves to rival those of Hawaii and South Africa, many spots in Brazil are popular with the surfer crowd. If you're in Rio de Janeiro, the best surfing can be found in Barra or a bit farther out in Prainha. São Paulo's coast also has some good surf beaches, such as Tombo Beach in Guaruja. And many maintain that Florianopolis, in the southern state of Santa Catarina, has the best surfing in Brazil.

Kitesurfing and sailboarding are also popular along much of the coast. You can see kite surfers “catching air” from São Paulo northward. Kitesurfing and sailboarding are particularly popular along Brazil's northeastern coast, where there are reliable, steady onshore breezes.

Good to know:

Sharks are often seen along Brazil's extensive coastline. There are 90 registered species in the nation, with most attacks coming from the tiger shark and the bull hark.

Scuba diving in Brazil can be fantastic. Brazil has some reefs and crystal clear water. However, the waters can be surprisingly cold sometimes due to currents from the south. The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, a well-protected national park, offers some truly wonderful diving. That being said, it's a bit pricey and far afield. Close to Rio, Arraial do Cabo also offers good diving, although the waters are chilly.

Beach sports

When you think of Brazil, it's likely that you envision sunny beaches populated by bronzed hardbodies. Brazil certainly has more than its share of wonderful beaches, leading many to claim that God is Brazilian. And for many Brazilians, the beach is often the focal point of their free time.

Whereas many nationalities go to the beach just to kick back and relax, Brazilians often choose to participate in sports in the sand. Beach volleyball and soccer matches in the sand (a strenuous way to get your exercise) are common. Brazilians have combined the two sports into something called futevôlei, which is, if you can imagine it, beach volleyball played without the use of the hands or arms. It's truly impressive to watch.

You can also simply jog the beach, and try a bit of bodysurfing after to cool off. Of course, there's nothing wrong with kicking back with a cold beer and watching everyone else exercise.

On the court

While Brazilians tend to favor outdoor sports, court sports are also popular. The most popular of these are volleyball and basketball. Brazil has a professional men's basketball league, and both men and women play volleyball. Brazil, in fact, performs well in both sports in international competitions. On television, you can also watch an interesting game called futsal, which is akin to indoor football.

Brazil produces many good tennis players, and tennis is a popular spectator sport. There are few public courts, but to play, you'll probably need to find a private club, which can be expensive.

Other sports

Brazil offers a bit of something for everyone. Formula 1 racing is popular, with races generally held on Sunday mornings. Golf has become increasingly popular, especially in parts of the Northeast, which have seen an influx of foreigners. Martial arts are widely practiced, especially jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts. Many gyms (known as academias) offer weight training and classes in yoga and pilates. In many locales, there are numerous hiking trails; many wind up granite hills with beautiful vistas waiting for you at the top.


No discussion of sports in Brazil would be complete without the mention of capoeira. Is it a dance or a martial art? It combines aspects of both.

Performed to a specific type of music played on a bow-like instrument called berimbau, capoeira arose in the times of slavery. Its exact origins and original intent are still disputed, but regardless, it's fascinating to watch skillful practitioners, who can often be seen in squares and beaches, especially in the northeastern states. This sport is practiced throughout the country through a sports federation and championships are regularly organized.

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