Strictly speaking the region encompasses many different people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Although some people would argue that the continent has been dominated by Spanish and Portuguese colonization, many successive waves of immigrants from various parts of Europe, Asia and Africa has made a significant impact on the continent. For example Nestor Kirchner (The former president of Argentina) was of German descent, and Alberto Fujimori (The former President of Peru) was of Japanese descent. This has played a significant role in the impact of sports in Latin America insofar as people tended to bring their own cultural traditions with them when emigrating to Latin America. For example cricket (A sport which was created by the British) plays a more domineering role in the Falkland Islands, and baseball plays a more important role in the Dominican Republic (A nation with some historic ties with the United States).
Physical geography plays a significant role in the impact of sport in Latin America because the continent is extremely diverse. FIFA had a temporary ban on international matches stadiums at high altitudes which made it difficult for nations like Bolivia. Moreover, nations that have access to lakes and oceans are more likely to engage in paddling sports than those that are landlocked. For the purpose of this paper the major sports that will be discussed are soccer (football), baseball, and basketball. Without question, soccer plays a significant role in Latin America. Although the sport is likely played across the entire continent some nations have become international powerhouses. Argentina is a nation that not only performs well in international competitions (Such as the World Cup) but has also give us some of the most memorable players. Diego Maradona is a player who came from humble roots in Buenos Aires yet is remember for two major goals during his career “The goal of the Century” and the “Hand of God” goal. Just after the completion of the Falkland war Argentina and England came face to face at the 1986 FIFA World Cup Quarter Final. The first half of the game was scoreless yet in the first few minutes of the second half, an English player tried to clear the ball yet accidentally hooked it towards the English goalkeeper. At this point Maradona jumped , screeching through the air with his fist extended which came into contact with the ball which went into the goal. The referee never saw the infraction and the English. However just a few minutes later Maradona ran at full steam for over sixty meters, blazing past five English defenders and ran 'dribbled' the ball around the English goalkeeper to score the goal that the English could not return. Although Argentina went on to win the World cup, it was often stated that beating England was more important as it satisfied their revenge for the Falkland war. Although some soccer players are relatively unknown in the United States they are often more popular than movie stars in their own country. Player such as Lionel Messi (Argentina) Ronaldinho (Brazil), Marcelo Salas (Chile), or Cladio Pizarro (Peru) are all international celebrities. Soccer plays a significant role in South American sports but it is by no means the only Sport. In nations such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela