10 most popular sports around the world

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Sports play an important role in our lives, but identifying the most popular sport is not easy.
We selected the top 10 most popular sports in the world.

10. Golf

This is one of the richest sports in the world with golfer Tiger Woods having been dominant on the top of the highest-paid athlete lists for many years.
Known as the 'Gentlemen's Game', golf is often played by the elite of our societies like celebrities and businessmen.
However, it is not the most played sport in the world due to the fact it is expensive, difficult to understand and is most attractive to adults.
The United States of America (USA) President Donald Trump is a big golf fan:
"After Turkey call, I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf (quickly) with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.
"Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA," he said on his official Twitter page in November 2017.

Table tennisImage copyright: Getty Images

9. Table Tennis

The sport has a strong fan base of more than 900 million fans around the world, but the majority of the players play it as a hobby.
It can be played by anyone including the old and unfit in their own homes, and it is mostly professional in countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.
It doesn't enjoy a large television coverage and lacks the big endorsement deals we usually see in sports like football, tennis, cricket and others.

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8. Volleyball

It has over 900 million global followings and there are over 200 national federations registered by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB).
Just like table tennis, volleyball is a simple game with little equipment and can be played both indoors and on the beach at amateur and professional levels.
However, the television viewership of volleyball is limited to major competitions including the Olympic Games. 

7. Boxing

This is the most popular combat sport in the world as amateur boxing is both an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport.
The sport, which rose from illegal venues and outlawed prize fighting, has become one of the largest multibillion-dollar sports in today's modern world. It has produced millionaires like Floyd Mayweather Jr and Canelo Alvarez.
A majority of young talent still comes from poverty-stricken areas around the world in places like Mexico, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe. 

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6. Tennis

Tennis is played by millions of recreational players and is also a popular worldwide spectator sport (watched by more than 400 million people around the world).
The four Grand Slam tournaments are especially popularly named the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
The Television rights deals for the abovementioned tournaments can gross millions of dollars in revenue and tennis star Roger Federer is amongst the richest and most famous sportsmen in the world.

5. Athletics

This is one of the most accessible global sports as it includes track and field, road running, cross country running and race walking. 
The simplicity of the competitions and the lack of a need for expensive equipment makes athletics one of the most common types of sports in the world.
The most-watched event in Olympic history with over 1 billion television views across the world was the 2012 Olympic Games 100 meters final which was won by Jamaica's Usain Bolt.

You might enjoy: The most succesful Olympic athletes 

4. Rugby

Rugby is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world especially in developed countries and is played on all six continents.
There are more than 390 million fans of the sport and it is mostly played in England, France, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, while also growing in popularity in countries like Japan and Argentina in recent years.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan was the most-viewed rugby event ever with more than 857 million people around the world watching the action.

3. Field/Ice Hockey

This is one of the most popular sports in the world with around two billion fans. It is played on grass, watered turf, artificial turf, synthetic fields as well as ice.
Ice hockey is by far the biggest winter sport and it is mostly played in Canada, Russia, USA and Scandinavian countries, while field hockey is the national sport of Pakistan, China and Malaysia.
The USA's National Hockey League (NHL) has a $4.1 billion yearly revenue, keeping it in the top five professional sports leagues including the English Premier League. 

2. Cricket

It is the second most popular sport in the world with over two billion fans and is played by both professionals and amateurs.
Cricket is the most-watched sport in Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is also one of the most-watched sports in the United Kingdom, West Indies, South Africa and Australia.
Competitions such as the T20 World Cup, Cricket World Cup (50 Overs) and Champions Trophy, which are organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC), gross hundreds of millions of dollars.
"I thought cricket was a sport, but not a sport. Now it has changed. You couldn’t imagine Colin Cowdrey racing off to the boundary at great speed," legendary English actor Peter Davin said on The Cricketer.

"I enjoy watching Jos Buttler. He’s just so instinctive and entertaining. I saw a masterclass with Adam Gilchrist on Sky and when they asked him about technique, he couldn’t give any answers. We seem to be looking out for someone with perfect technique.

"I also loved watching Kevin Pietersen. If someone is so good, we have to make allowances for them. I liked his bravado – I suppose because I’m not like that."

1. Football/Soccer

This is the most popular sport in the world with three billion fans and is played by approximately 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies.
The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games.
The top five European leagues (Ligue 1, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga) have a total wage cost per year in excess of £600 million/€763 million/US$1.185 billion.
Football has produced several millionaires including David Beckham, Ronaldo de Lima, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are also global sports stars.

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Published: 05/07/2020