Guatemalans love their soccer, known as fútbol. It is by far the most widely played sport in the country, with every town or village having at least something that resembles a soccer field. Almost everywhere you go, you’ll find games being played on Sunday afternoons. As for professional soccer playing, the two most popular teams in the country’s four-team national soccer league, denoted by the colors of their jerseys, are the Rojos (Municipales) and Cremas (Comunicaciones). The two usually end up going head to head at the end of the season for the championship title.
Games can be seen at Guatemala City’s Estadio Mateo Flores, but be advised it can get quite rowdy. In 1996, things got so out of hand that a stampede ensued when stands collapsed, killing 100 people. The soccer stadium has been remodeled in the aftermath. If you’ve always wanted to see a Latin American soccer match, you might want to check it out. Guatemala also has a few star players in U.S. Major League Soccer and on some European teams.
International games played by the national squad are a big event, as Guatemala has never been to a World Cup. Guatemala is part of CONCACAF, the Caribbean, North, and Central American Confederation. CONCACAF gets three slots for the World Cup, which usually end up going to the United States, Mexico, and Costa Rica. In 2004–2005, the national squad (also known as la bicolor) got closer than it’s ever been, advancing into the Final Round of the World Cup qualifiers tied in points with Costa Rica after beating Honduras 1–0. Postgame celebrations spilled into the streets and lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the high hopes ended in bitter disappointment. Things got off to a great start with a 5–1 routing of Trinidad and Tobago, but Guatemala then lost 2–0 to the United States and never fully recovered.
Known locally as béisbol, games can be seen at Parque Minerva ’s ballpark. The game has become increasingly popular in recent years and you’ll often see league games going on at area ballparks, usually on Saturday mornings.