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Portuguese football city: basis for a national success story

Since their first-ever EURO victory in 2016, Portuguese national teams have won six other trophies across multiple age groups and formats – more than in the previous 100 years of the country’s rich footballing heritage.

If you’re looking for the main reason behind such a sudden and unprecedented period of success, start with the impressive ‘Cidade do Futebol’ – City of Football – built in the shadow of Estadio National on the outskirts of Lisbon.

“It’s not just about infrastructure. It’s about a feeling.”

Cláudia Poças, director of the football city

The football city, opened on the eve of EURO 2016, provides a common home for the sporting and administrative mission of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). In keeping with the name, the complex has its own TV channel, university and hotel in addition to technical facilities. A newly built indoor football hall will open its doors this year.

“It is no coincidence that since joining the City of Football we have won more trophies than in more than a century,” says Portuguese football legend Pedro Pauleta, now a director at the FPF.

Self-build success

March 2016
Cidade do Futebol officially opens in Lisbon
July 2016
Portugal’s first ever EURO triumph
2016
Winners of the European Under-17 Championship
2018
Winners of the European Under-19 Championship
2021
Futsal EURO title
2021
Winners of the Indoor Football World Cup
2022
Second consecutive Futsal EURO title
2022
First Futsal Finalissima winners

Spirit of togetherness

For Cláudia Poças, director of FPF’s City of Football, the secret of the complex’s success lies not only in providing a center of football excellence, but also in building a spirit of togetherness, which connects players, staff, local schools, embraces companies and communities.

“It’s not just about the infrastructure,” says Poças, “it’s about a feeling.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel functioned as a hospital when the Ministry of Health was running out of beds, while two years ago it housed families displaced by floods.

During the year, the complex opens its doors to more than 200 schools, so that children can visit the facilities, but above all learn about good nutrition and the values ​​of fair play and respect. The university offers more than 40 courses for sports professionals in the areas of marketing, leadership, female leadership and sustainability. “It is another way to pass on our expertise to clubs, associations, players and former players,” notes Poças.

Pinto: “We have won something abroad, but we share this with them.”

Building a community obviously starts at home, with the national team players and FPF staff members. City’s pioneering role became evident for former Portuguese star João Vieira Pinto as soon as the side returned to Lisbon with the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

“When we arrived here and we felt that everyone, all the staff, was so enthusiastic, we had the feeling of ‘we are at home’,” says Pinto, director of the FPF since 2011. “We have won something abroad, but we share this with them.”

João Vieira Pinto (middle) is now director of the Portuguese Football Federation

João Vieira Pinto (middle) is now director of the Portuguese Football FederationFPF

Bringing together all federation activities and teams under one roof has created an invaluable sense of unity and a renewed identity.

“Before the City of Football, our national team traveled around Portugal without any base, our logistics and technical centers were in different locations and our structure was completely divided,” says Poças. “Now, after eight years, we can really say that we work as a family.”

“One day we have the under-15s, the next day it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. This kind of interaction is great.”

Cláudia Poças, director of the football city

This solidarity also benefits the players. “We have 28 national teams, and they are all based here and train here,” Poças explains. “One day we have the under-15s, the next day it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. This kind of interaction is great. The young girls and boys can see where they can be in a few years.”

The feeling of being part of one big family contributes to the smooth transition into the Portuguese senior teams of many young players – such as Benfica duo João Neves and António Silva – with coaches who can work closely and with players from all age groups.

Youth teams use the same facilities as the senior teams of the City of Football

Youth teams use the same facilities as the senior teams of the City of FootballFPF

A boost to success on the pitch for Portugal

The City of Football also contributes to the local economy. Through organizing events and local partnerships, the FPF has turned the football city into an economically sustainable complex, harnessing the power of football to continue investing in facilities, including the new futsal hall.

“Sport is central to us, but the building was also built as a business building,” Poças explains. “It costs a lot to keep the fields in the best condition and to have such an infrastructure, so we rent out the space for corporate events. The indoor football hall will be ready for events and even concerts.”

Like the rest of the city, the futsal hall will represent not only football in Portugal, but also the entire country. “Eighty percent of the furniture and inventory comes from Portuguese companies. There is a lot of green and red,” says Poças. “We want to give our players a feeling of home, that they represent more than just football.”