People really, really love soccer in Costa Rica. As much as 27% of Costa Rica’s population plays soccer according to a FIFA survey, ranking the Central America country #1 in soccer density. Without a doubt, soccer is the most beloved national sport for Costa Ricans and is pretty much integrated into the everyday lives of Costa Rican citizens. Every town has a soccer field, and there are matches played every weekend. Costa Rica practices soccer tourism through proper soccer tours lasting for several days. It is a concept in which tourists can get involved in the sport while vacationing on the country’s gorgeous beaches or in one of the major cities. Tourists can cheer, meet the players, and even join the game.
Costa Rica's national soccer team, known as La Sele, represents Costa Rica on the international level, competing in such events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Copa America and the Olympics. The national team plays at the National Stadium which is located in San Jose's Sabana Park. Governed by the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL), La Sele is the most successful national soccer team in the history of Central America.
3 Facts about the Team History
- World Cup Performances: Costa Rica participated in the FIFA World Cup four times so far and they are now preparing for the fifth appearance in Russia. The side preformed admirably at the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy, finishing second in their group and making it to the single-elimination stage. They’ve qualified for the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups as well, producing their best performance in 2014 when they reached the quarterfinals and ended the competition as 8th of 32 participant teams.
- Team Players Records: Most prominent sportsmen in the Costa Rica soccer team include Walter Centeno with 137 caps and 24 goals (most caps 1995–2009), Rolando Fonseca 47 goals and 113 caps (top goalscorer 1992–2011), Luis Marín (centre back, one of the finest of his generation, now acts as the assistant manager of the national team) and Bryan Ruiz.
- National Stadium: Although many national teams don’t have a designated stadium, Costa Rica has a venue of 35,000 seats located in San Jose and referred to as the ‘Jewel of Costa Rica’. The stadium is a gift from the Chinese government, it was built by Chinese workers, and its construction lasted two years. The venue was officialy inaugurated in 2011. Other than all of the home soccer games of the Costa Rica’s national men, women and youth teams, the stadium has hosted such high profile events as music concerts of Shakira, Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden.
3 Fun Facts about the Country
- World Heritage Sites: Costa Rica is a tiny country - it is smaller than the US Lake Michigan. However, it is home to 4 World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO. La Amistad National Park, Cocos Island National Park, Guanacaste Conservation Area and the Stone Spheres in Sierpe all hold a universal cultural and natural value to the world.
- No Army: Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948 and is one of only 23 countries in the world to do so. The consequences have been extremely positive for the development of the country’s education and medical systems since the budget that previously supported the military was used to improve these fields, as well as the Costa Rican national culture.
- Street Signs Introduced Recently: There were no street signs in Costa Rice up until 2012! People would usually get around by asking for directions from the locals who would then tell them where to turn and how many meters to go to reach their destination. As the country is getting a bigger influx of tourists, the problem had to be addressed, and the first step was modernising the capital city of San Jose with good ol’ street signs.