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The Dominican Republic has historically been one of the weaker nations when it comes to international Soccer. However, much like Cuba, the Dominican Republic has attracted some global attention over the last decade. For the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Cuban team qualified directly to the Third Round as one of the six highest ranked teams and were place in Group C with Honduras, Panama, and Canada. Although the Cuban team had a couple of close games, they ended up their qualification process with 1 draw and 5 defeats. Cuba has ranked as high as 46 in 2006 and as low as 175 in 1994. These strong positive deviations throughout the aforementioned 12 year period are similar to the positive deviations that the Dominican Republic has experienced as of late. The Dominican Republic is ready for the big stage.

Dominican National Team 2013

 

Soccer was introduced to the Dominican Republic by the Spanish. Between 1936 and 1939, Spaniards who had been exiled to the Dominican Republic, would seek out open fields and play games of soccer. These improvised games would not meet present day FIFA standards, as they were put together with makeshift nets and balls. Dominican soccer was born in this period, as many Dominicans fell in love with the sport and the first two teams were founded, El Condor and El Pindu. The overwhelming majority of the participation in these squads was of European descent.

Historical lagging Dominican participation in soccer can be attributed to the popularity and domination of baseball by Dominicans. Baseball is engraved in the fabric of Dominican society and can be traced back to the late 19th century. Rafael Trujillo (Dominican dictator from 1930-1960) was also a great proponent of baseball. During this period, there wasn’t any investment into infrastructure or education in regards to soccer.

A major development in the rise of popularity of soccer for Dominicans came with the arrival of Bolivian coach, Prof. Fortunato Quispe Mendoza in 1965. His arrival marked a new era of Dominican soccer and helped expand the popularity of the sport beyond the capital city of Santo Domingo. The Football Association was created in 1970 in Santo Domingo (about 100 years after Euro leagues).

The continuous work of private institutions and soccer schools aim to to revive the popularity of soccer in the Dominican Republic, making it more than a novelty television event every four years. At this time FIFA is supporting the “Proyecto Gol” in the DR. The overall objective of Project Goal is to create headquarter offices here; to build natural and artificial soccer fields for practice and play, and aims to strengthen the country’s basic soccer infrastructure. The main problem that the Dominican Republic faces is the attraction and retention of talent.

Estadio Olympico Felix Sanchez

Estadio Olympico Felix Sanchez

The international ranking for the Dominican Republic in the past 10 years has been very encouraging. Although Dominican ranking has certainly fluctuated over the previous 10 years, there is a consistent positive trend. The Dominican golden years have been from 2008-2011, in which they were able to rise from a low of 190th ranking to a high of 78th. Statistically speaking, Dominican ranking should be consistently closer to the top 35% (hovering near 70th) worldwide by the time the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia. If the positive trends continue (or get better) over the next 8 years, the Dominican Republic could find itself in legitimate contention for one of the 32 slots for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar!

 

Data - FIFA, Graph- Ortiz

FIFA Global Ranking for The Dominican Republic

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