Top 10 Most Popular Team Sports In The World

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Association Football 1. Association Football: Soccer, the world’s most popular game, has the largest fan following on the planet. Its origin is Chinese, where it was discovered by the English and is now the de facto sport in 93 countries - home to two billion people. It  has 208 member nations and thus is easily the world’s richest sport. It also has the largest contingent of diehard fans, players and professional leagues in the world’s largest economy, Europe. The English Premier League and the Champions League are the most popular football leagues, with the matches shown live to half a billion people in 202 countries. Manchester United is the richest club in the world with a valuation of $1.87 billion. The FIFA World Cup is the largest and most lucrative sporting event in the world. The 2006 tournament, with 64 matches featuring 32 nations and television coverage in 214 countries, had a cumulative television audience of 26 billion people. The final between defending champions Italy and France was watched by 700 million viewers.

cricket 2. Cricket: With Twenty20, the three-hour, 20-overs-a-side version, One-Day internationals and Test matches, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. The English gentleman’s game is the most popular sport in the Indian subcontinent, which has a 1.5 billion population. It attracts crazy fans with a religion-like following in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Then there is the West Indies and the 20 million or so non-residential Indians - figures that can be matched only by the soccer buffs of Europe and South America. Cricket is among the top three most popular sports in Australia, England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Mauritius. The ICC, its ruling body,  has 10 Test playing nations and 104 member countries. The game also cherishes the ‘most popular’ tag in 20 countries. The ICC World Cup is the world’s second largest single sporting event, drawing a cumulative television audience of five billion. A final involving India could draw up to 400 million TV viewers (India has 130 million television sets). BCCI  is the world’s richest sporting organisation, with a valuation in excess of $2 billion. The IPL attracts two billion and is the most popular and richest  cricket league with  the average attendance figure of 57,500. India are the defending Twenty20 World Cup champions and Australia the ODI champions.

Basketball_resize 3. Basketball: Amongst the most popular sports in the USA, China, Russia, the Philippines, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Serbia and Puerto Rico. The National Basketball Association (NBA), with 30 teams and an average attendance of 17,500, is the richest and most popular basketball league and arguably the most viewed American sporting action in the world, attracting an accumulative television audience in excess of a billion. Induction of players of different nationalities to the NBA has ignited the general population to take up and follow the sport in a big way across various nations. The FIBA world championship and Olympics are the major international events, with Spain and the United States is the respective current gold medalists.

Baseball_resize 4. Baseball: The national pastime of the United States  is the most popular sport in Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, Venezuela and South Korea. It is amongst the most popular in the USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, Colombia, Panama, the Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua  and the Dominican Republic . With 117 member nations, it has passionate fans nearing the half-a-billion mark and is arguably the richest bat-and-ball game. Major League Baseball is the  premier baseball league and attracts the highest attendance (79.5 million in 2,430 matches). New York Yankees are the most valued and popular club, and after the preamble of the not-so-popular baseball World Cup, the international think-tank initiated the successful World Baseball Classic - a 16-nation tournament with MLB players, where Japan are the multiple defending champions.

5. Rugby Union: The most popular sports in New Zealand is also very popular  in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Italy, Madagascar, Fiji, the Cook Islands, Romania, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina . It is also played in the USA, Japan, Georgia, Belgium, Germany, Chile, Paraguay, Malaysia, Russia, Canada and Spain. The 16-nation Rugby World Cup is the third largest single sporting event, achieving an average attendance of more than 45,000 and an estimated television audience in excess of two billion. The Six-Nations championship, British Lions tours and Tri-Nation series are the major tournaments outside the World Cup, followed by millions of passionate rugby fans. The International Rugby Board  has 103 member nations spanning every continent. South Africa are the defending world champions.

Field Hockey_resize 6. Field Hockey: The national sport of India and Pakistan is amongst the top five sports in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Germany, Holland (the six-time world champions), Australia (three Olympics golds), South Korea, Japan, Argentina, Malaysia and England. The Olympics and the World Cup, the most prominent events, have been dominated by India, with eight Olympics golds, and Pakistan, winners of four World Cups. The Champions Trophy and the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament are other prominent events. The International Hockey Federation comprises more than 100 countries. Germany are the current World and Olympic champions.

Volleyball_resize 7. Volleyball: The national sport of Sri Lanka is a very popular participant sports in almost all countries and amongst the top six in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands , Japan, China, India, Philippines and Poland. Volleyball is also a popular sport in the south of India, North America, Eastern Europe and Brazil, enjoying a surge in popularity in schools and colleges. The most important tournament is the Olympics where the USSR, Brazil and the USA are multiple gold medallists. FIVB is the international governing body with more than 150 volleyball-playing nations. The United States are the current Olympic champions and Brazil the defending world champions. Another hugely popular version is beach volleyball, which often rivals even the main sport.

Ice Hockey_resize 8. Ice Hockey: A winter sport boosted by the advent of artificial turf, Ice Hockey enjoys popularity throughout the seasons and is amongst the top four sports in the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway , Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Great Britain and Slovakia. The National Hockey League is the most popular league and captures the lion’s share among all the hockey leagues, pulling in average crowds of 40,000 to the stadiums in the US and watched by millions on TV across Europe and America. The International Ice Hockey Federation, with 66 members, stages the World Championship where Russia are the defending champions.

American Football_resize 9. American Football: The most popular sport in the United States has its roots in English soccer and rugby football. It is loved by more than half the nation’s population  of 306 million. With more than 200 million passionate fans residing across the US, Canada, Japan, the Caribbean and Europe, it has mass appeal and glamour. The National Football League (NFL) is the richest sporting league in the world, netting $6.2 billion annually and attracting a world-record average attendance of around 67,700. IFAF, with 45 members, is the international governing body that oversees the sport’s World Cup, where the United States are the defending champions. Outside the US  and Canada, American football  is also played domestically in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Mexico and Japan, the multiple world champions in 1999 and 2003.

Rugby League_resize 10. Rugby League: The other version of rugby football is played extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, France, England and Papua New Guinea, where it is considered a national sport.  It is played in more the 30 nations, growing in popularity particularly in Europe and in New Zealand, after being crowned world champions in 2007. Passionate rugby league fans dwell mainly in northern parts of England, Australia and New Zealand. National Rugby League, with 16 teams, is the most prominent domestic league and probably the most popular rugby football club competition in the world. It draws huge crowds across the grounds of Australia and New Zealand.