Most Popular Sports Across 15 Different Countries

Explore sports people really love in the United States, Canada, and 13 other countries.

Published June 20, 2023

If you're wondering about some of the most popular sports in different countries, this breakdown can give you some interesting facts. From soccer in Brazil to cricket in India, some of these most-loved sports might surprise you. Discover favorite active pastimes in these 15 countries and how the game fits into each culture.

Along with historical data, participation, and fan base, factors like social media following and TV viewership also come into play when it comes to determining the most popular sports.

United States - American Football

Baseball might be the great American pastime, but football is considered the most popular game in US. The National Football League (NFL) is a massive attraction, with the Super Bowl often being the most-watched television event each year. American football is deeply ingrained in American culture, from high school to college to professional levels.

United Kingdom - Football (Soccer)

The United States loves football and so does the United Kingdom, but the two terms refer to different sports. The UK is the birthplace of modern football - also known as soccer - and is home to the Premier League, one of the most popular and competitive football leagues in the world. Football enriches the culture, with matches being a significant social event for many people.

Canada - Ice Hockey

Canada's climate makes it a perfect place for ice sports like hockey. The National Hockey League (NHL) is immensely popular, and Canadian teams have a rich history in the league. International competitions like the Winter Olympics are major events in the country.

Australia - Cricket

Judging by the viral social media videos, you might think Australia's most popular sport is running from oversized arachnids, but the outback country is truly a fan of cricket. British colonists introduced cricket to the country and has been a favorite sport in Australia since the 19th century. The Australian cricket team is one of the best in the world, and domestic games are also popular.

Brazil - Football (Soccer)

Football - aka, soccer - is an important part of Brazilian culture, and the country is internationally recognized for producing some of the best players. The Brazilian national team is very successful, often a powerhouse in the FIFA World Cup.

India - Cricket

Like Australia, India's most popular sport is cricket and the countries share similar histories regarding the sport's discovery. Cricket was introduced to India during British colonial rule, but India has made the sport its own.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the most-watched sports leagues globally, and the Indian national team has a huge and passionate fanbase.

Spain - Football (Soccer)

Spain joins the list of countries with a passion for football (soccer). Home to La Liga, one of the world's top football leagues, Spain boasts clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid. Spanish people's passion for the game is clear, both at local matches and during international competitions.

Germany - Football (Soccer)

Are you seeing a football theme here? Like many European countries, football reigns supreme in Germany. The Bundesliga, Germany's top-tier football league, is among the world's most popular. The German national team has also been incredibly successful on the international stage.

New Zealand - Rugby Union

New Zealand steps out of the ordinary with a national passion for rugby. Rugby has a significant influence on New Zealand's culture. The All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby team, are a source of national pride and are consistently a top team in international competitions.

China - Table Tennis (Ping-Pong)

China takes competition off the field and straight to the table with their love for table tennis (ping-pong). Introduced in the early 20th century, table tennis quickly spread throughout the country. China dominates this sport in international competitions, and it's a common recreational activity.

Japan - Baseball

Japan steps up to the plate with their love for baseball. Introduced in the 19th century, baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan. The Nippon Professional Baseball League has a massive following, and Japanese players often excel in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the U.S.

France - Football (Soccer)

France, like many other European countries, considers football (soccer) their most beloved sport. France's Ligue 1 is one of Europe's big five leagues, and the French national team has a storied history in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship.

South Africa - Rugby Union

South Africa, like New Zealand, is passionate about rugby. Rugby is a significant sport in South Africa, reflecting the country's British colonial influence. The national team, known as the Springboks, often ranks among the world's best.

Argentina - Football (Soccer)

Argentina lives and breathes football, with passionate fans and world-class players. The Argentine national team is among the world's most successful, and clubs like Boca Juniors and River Plate have large followings.

Russia - Ice Hockey

With its cold climate, ice hockey has a natural home in Russia. The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is popular domestically, and Russian players have a significant impact on the NHL. Though Russia also loves football (soccer), there's no doubt that their passion and climate are the perfect blend for an ice hockey headquarters.

Play Ball All Over the World

Football and hockey are fan favorites worldwide, but this look at popular sports by country is a clear picture of all the unique sports enjoyed around the world. Sports are more than just competitive games in most cultures - and these countries count their most popular sports as an integral part of their citizens' lives.

Most Popular Sports Across 15 Different Countries