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SPORTS
About Ecuador

Football is by far the most popular sport in Ecuador, with a well-established professional league. All around the country you will see people playing on weekend afternoons on rough pitches (often doubling as grazing land for animals) on the edge of villages, or in the streets of towns and cities.

For many years the national team was a real minnow but that changed when they qualified for the World Cup in 2002 and managed to beat Croatia. In 2006 they beat Poland on the first day of the tournament and qualified for the last 16, losing narrowly to England. As a result expectations are now high, and the failure to qualify for South Africa 2010 was a bitter blow. Many players are stars in foreign teams. Antonio Valencia plays for Manchester United and about 5 others play in Mexico. Cristian Noboa plays for Rubin Kazan in Russia.

The national league is a reasonable standard. The best team is Liga de Quito, who have recently won the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, the two South American club tournaments. However other clubs seem to suffer from low attendances and a tendency to bring in a bunch of foreign players every year who may or may not be up for it.

 





Tennis is also a popular sport although more for people with money as there are few public courts. Andrés Goómez won the French Open at Roland Garros in the 1980s and Nicolas Lapennti has been in the world Top 10 and continues playing and being an excellent ambassador for Ecuador.

People love playing volleyball, or rather Ecuavolley , a unique version in which 3 play against 3. Sometimes you get groups of about 200 men crowding around a few open volleyball courts on a Saturday afternoon for a gossip and a work out. The great thing is that, even more than football there is a complete mix of ages.

A lot of people enjoy swimming but athletics are not widely practiced. Jefferson Perez won the World Championships and Olympics in walking and seems to have inspired many to take this discipline up in his native Cuenca.




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