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The World’s Most Popular Sports

March 13, 2017

People play sports for different reasons, as a pastime, as a career or even as part of a fitness regime. It also seems as though various sports dominate different countries. For example, we know that New Zealand is home to rugby and baseball is the American nation’s favourite pastime.

Are we correct or are these misconceptions? And above all, which sport takes the lead as the most popular in the world? Our infographic gives you a breakdown by continent of the globe’s most played, most watched sports with the most passionate fans.

A closer look at the North American region unveils no surprises. The infographic reveals that hockey is the number one sport in Canada and American football leads in the US, bypassing baseball. Volleyball is the Mexicans’ favourite activity, and tennis is all the rage in Belize. However, boxing and BMX are the top sports in North America, with both being practised in more than two countries.

A trip to Central America tells a completely different story, with cricket, football and basketball being the most popular sports played across this corner of the world. Basketball leads in the Bahamas and football is favoured in Haiti, but it’s Cricket that is number one in eight countries; the Dominican Republic, Antigua, San Juan and its tiny neighbouring countries.

Latin America sees more variety having seven different sports leading in various countries. The cruel blood sport, cockfighting, has found substantial support in Peru. They even call it an art form and say that it’s a cultural tradition worth preserving. Rugby and cricket are also frequently played in individual countries in South America.

It’s also not a shocker that football is the Brazilian nation’s favourite pastime with famous exports like Neymar, Pele, Kaka, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho. Moreover, Brazil has also won the FIFA World Cup five times and are the only team to have participated in every tournament. But, is it boxing, tennis or volleyball which is played in the most countries across this region? Check out the colourful map on our infographic for the answer.

In Europe, a variety of sports are played across the continent. However, only one dominates, being the favourite in 31 countries! The compilation reveals that Laser Tag is Serbia’s favourite hobby, and basketball, handball, and judo all lead in different countries.

Surprisingly, Geocaching has emerged as a leader in two countries, Luxembourg being one of them. It is known as the world’s largest treasure hunt, having hundreds of containers hidden away in different locations all around the world for GPS users to find using coordinates posted on the Internet.

BMX is the recreational activity which leads in Greece and Macedonia and snooker is the people’s favourite in Finland and Latvia. Which are the three most prominent sports in Europe then? Look at our infographic for the results.

Football has taken Africa by storm and leads in 45 countries over the continent. It is followed by wrestling which leads in Egypt, Mauritania, and Djibouti, and BMX which is the prime hobby in Tunisia and Eritrea. This may come as a surprise to some, as the most popular sport in South Africa is actually cricket and not rugby, contrary to popular belief.

Located in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Asia, is the largest and most populous continent. A range of different activities, such as taekwondo, boxing, and BMX are popular among the people living in this region. Unexpectedly, racing takes first place in South Korea, and horse racing leads in Japan and Turkey. In Afghanistan, baseball reigns, leaving cricket, wrestling and football as the top three most popular sports in Asia. But which one takes the lead across ten different countries?

In south-east Asia, volleyball is the favourite in the Philippines, and in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia, it’s boxing which is a sensation, and snooker is ahead in two countries including Malaysia. Crikey! It’s a close call between football which is prominent in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, and cricket, which is dominant in Australia and New Zealand amongst other countries. For the best Asian bookies online, head to our Asian Sportsbook which will help you make the best decision regarding your bets.

On the whole, which of these recreational activities rules the world? Head to the infographic for the results of the demographics.

About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.