SPORTS IN ANDORRA

 

Andorrans in general are great sports fans and enjoy a wide variety of sports and leisure activities, both as participants and spectators. The Andorran Government has tried to ensure that the infrastructure is in place for so that everyone can enjoy their sporting activities, which in a mountainous terrain can at times be difficult. Nevertheless segments of the Tour de France cycling race are often staged within the principality as well as a wide range of extreme sports including the Mountain Bike world championships and various ski competitions.

The major passion in Andorra seems to revolve around skiing and football (soccer), although Rugby and cycling are also very popular. Skiing is a natural activity for an Andorran; many boast to have skied before they could walk. Every year around 8 million tourists flock to the surrounding mountains and the vast array of chalets, resorts and ski apartments – skiing is not only a favourite past time, but a key generator of income as tourism and hospitality are included amongst the main industries for the country. While skiing dominates the sporting scene, football is also held in high esteem both historically and contemporarily.

One only has to look back into the history of Andorra to understand why there is such passion amongst the population for this sport. Throughout the second world war, Andorra became a refuge for many Catalans who fled the cruel Franco regime. In these times Catalan as a language and all of its traditions were outlawed throughout Spain and those found practicing any such activities often faced the death penalty. The only way that the Catalans could publicly express their passion for their heritage was through Football Club Barcelona. This emotion for football and FCB intrinsically filtered through to Andorra and now twice a year the country stands still for the “Derby” between Franco's team “Real Madrid” and the Catalans “Barcelona”.

Although Andorra has not experienced great success as a team internationally, the local league is increasing in personnel and strength every year. Other competitive sports which are closely followed and loved by the Andorran population are cross country running, basketball, roller hockey (which once again has its roots firmly planted throughout Catalonia) and Rugby - recently Andorra was ranked number 42 in the world (not bad for a country with a population of 75 000!) There is no doubt that you would be hard pressed to find a sporting activity which is not represented in this country. Andorra is home to Marathon runners, chess grand masters and international equestrian competitors, there is even a growing Australian football league! It also boasts excellent swimming facilities, gymnasiums, spa and wellness retreats, tennis and squash facilities and so on.