What are the most popular spectator sports in the world?

Here is input from WikiAnswers contributors on sports' popularity:

  • In the world: Soccer, Basketball, Ice hockey
  • Soccer, Basketball, Rugby, Cricket, Auto Racing, Field Hockey and Table Tennis
  • Soccer, Basketball, Auto Racing, Football, Cricket, Baseball, Hockey, Rugby.
  • Football as in NFL?, baseball, ice hockey? Those are predominantly all North American sports. Let's take a look; population of Canada + US = rougly 300 million! India (pop 1 billion) - just by itself can put cricket and field hockey above baseball and ice hockey. Looking at the international scene, cricket is more popular than baseball. And field hockey is a lot more popular than ice hockey! NFL shouldn't even be counted in this category!
  • Ice hockey is also popular all over Europe east and west, plus Russia plus the US plus Canada. That's about a billon and a bit enough to give it some distinction.
  • After soccer I think it is Basketball.
  • I think its soccer, basketball, table, tennis, vollyball, baseball and rugby.
  • I think its soccer, volleyball, tennis and cricket.
  • Soccer is the most popular with over the half of the world's population watching it. (3.3 Billion). Cricket is the next. Everyone would be probably surprised. But, about half of the world's population lives in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Moreover Cricket is the national sport of England. Australia's most popular sport is cricket, even new zeland. Total cricket fans are 3 to 3.3 BILLION. Hockey is also very popular. Then comes Volleyball, Tennis. American sports like baseball and basketball are not played anywhere in India, China, Pakistan, so they do not have a lot of fans.
  • 1. Football (i.e. soccer), 2. basketball, 3. Swimming, 4. tennis, 5. Motor Racing, 6. Ice Hockey, 7. Cricket, 8. Golf, 9. Baseball, 10. Snooker (i.e. pool or billiards). These ratings are based on people following the sports, teams participating and popularity.
  • Thai kick Boxing is the most seen and followed sport in china officilally 1 200 000 000+ people
    • Football first. No argument with that. (Americans note: By football, I mean what you people call soccer) Basketball next. It's already the most popular sport in china too. .
    • After football (soccer) and basketball would come boxing. Boxing generates a little bit of interest in many countries in the world which eventually adds up. Countries like Pakistan and the U.S. (both heavily populated) have many prominent boxers and the people have some interest in the sport too.

Popularity of Sports

1) Football Soccer. The most important and popular sport in the world. In Europe and Latin America is the number one sport in all countries, in Africa is almost the most important sport as well its becoming a mayor popular sport in China, Korea, Japan and the Middle East. Weakness: Its no so popular in India, USA and Canada. Women Football is not as popular as men. 2) Basketball The second most popular sport in the World. Its one of the most popular sports in USA, Canada, the second in importance in Europe, Brasil, Argentina and China. n?1 sport in Lithuania. Weakness: It?s a sport for tall people, not so popular in Africa, the middle east, India, and East Asia. 3) Car Racing (F1, Rally, CART etc). The highiest TV rating sport in the World. Weakness: Some people don?t consider this to be a real sport. 4) Tennis. A worldwide sport, played everywhere. Wimbledon, Roland Garros, US Open, Australia and the Davis Cup and mayor world sports events. For Women it?s the most popular sport in the World. Weakness: It?s a sport for middle and high class people. 5) Athletism (includes swimming) The World Cup is the third in importance after the Soccer World Cup and the Olimpic games. Weakness: Its being constellation of sports in which Capitalism fought peacefully against the Communist countries. In Latin America and the Third World Countries, this kind of sports are not that popular. 6) Golf Another Worldwide sport, played everywhere. Specially in USA and Europe. Weakness: Its a sport for very high class people. 7) Boxing. Some people consider Boxing the second sport in popularity. But it depends too much on the actual boxers in activity. Weakness: It?s a danger sport, only occasionally there is a fight that stimulates the worlds attention. 8) Baseball. The n?1 sport in USA. Weakness: It?s a local sport, only being popular in USA, Venezuela, Central America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Japan. It doesn?t have a World Cup, and the best players never attend in the Olimpic Games. 9) Volleyball (includes beach volley) A Worldwide sport. Being played in every corner of the planet. It?s the second most popular sport in Brasil. Women volley is the second sport for Women in the World. Weakness: Many people practice it, but doesn?t follow the professional tournaments. The best players are not known by the people and the mass media. 10) Hockey (ice, land and roller). Another Local Sport. Land Hockey: It?s the National and Second in Popularity sport in India and Pakistan. Also a mayor Olimpic Sport. Ice Hockey: The National Sport in Canada and very popular in USA, Russia and Northern Europe. A mayor sport in the Winter Olimpic Games. Weakness: It?s a sport being played in few countries with no big popularity. In Latin America its only being played in Argentina where the women version of Land Hockey is more popular than the men s one. 11) Water, Wind Sports. (surf, wind-surf, boating, etc) Too many and of different kinds. Only popular in the high class people. Surf is a very popular sport everywhere. Weakness: competitions doesn?t awake the worlds attention. 12) Skiing. A Sport for high classes in USA and Europe. 13) Cricket Another Local Sport. Played almost in the British Colonies, it?s the most important sport in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies (Bahamas), and its the national sport in England and the third in popularity in Australia and South Africa. Weakness. Its just a Local sport with no existence in the rest of the World. 14) Rugby (union, league and seven) A Local Sport. Played in the British Colonies and in France. It?s the most popular sport in New Zealand, the second in England, France and South Africa. And very popular in Australia. Weakness: Its not an Olimpic Sport. In some parts of the World, specially in the whole American continent, East Europe, Asia and Africa this sport is don?t even known. 15) Table Tennis. It?s an important Olimpic sport. The National Sport in China. Weakness: In most parts of the World its just a game. 16) Martian Arts (Judo, Taek Won Do, Karate, etc) Another important Olimpic Sports. Weakness: The ordinary people doesnt understand its rules, so its difficult to see it if you have never practice them. 17) Cycling A Mayor Sport. Important in the Olimpic Games. The n?1 sport in the Basque Country (Spain). Weakness: It?s a boring sport to watch it on TV. 18) American Football A Sport only being Popular in USA 19) Handball A Sport only important cause its an Olympic Sport. 20) Waterpolo. A Sport only important cause its an Olympic Sport. Only popular in Spain. 21) Bull Fighting Only popular in Spain and Mexico. 22) Badminton A Sport only important cause its an Olimpic Sport, in many countries its just a game. 23) Polo It?s a sport for Aristocrats. Only Popular in Argentina. 24) Australian Football. N?1 Sport in Australia. 25) Hurlingham. Only played in Britain and some parts of USA. 26) Paddle Tennis. Only Popular in Argentina and Spain. 27) Chess. This is not a sport 28) Turf. Gambling not a sport. 29) Shooting. For fight not a sport


Football is certainly popular in Latin America and Europe and Africa - but it is not the 'national' sport in any meaningful sense of the word in China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Japan. Football carries an enormous amount of gravity in Brazil, of course, and Mexico, I guess. I'm not really sure if Russia and Nigeria identify soccer as the national sport. So, I'll grant that two and maybe four of the largest countries on earth are deeply invested in the sport. Almost half (if you count the countries, not the people). And you can keep working your way down the list of countries with a lot of people in them - Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Turkey, Iran and Thailand - not really soccer fans in the same way Germany and France take up the sport. It sort of makes you wonder why they call it the World Cup :)


Football (soccer in the US) is by an enormous margin the most popular sport on Earth: 1) It is true that more countries have a soccer league than actually are members of the UN 2) Only a handful of countries do not attempt to qualify for the world cup. 3) total tv viewing figures for the last world cup add up to 12 times the worlds population. 4) It is the most popular sport by far in all of south America, Europe, Africa, most of Asia and the middle east. I believe the popularity of basketball has been grossly overstated. It has virtually no viewing public in most of Europe.

World's Top 10 Spectator Sports

soccer, basketball, formula 1, rugby, Olympics, golf, wrestling, running, cricket and American football I beilive that the top 2 sports in the world is Football(soccer) and then rugby. Because where ever you go in the world if you travel to a semi-major country you can find a rugby team. And i totally disagree with you sources on how rugby is hardly know in East Europe, AFRICA(i disagree with most) and some others. South Africa's rugby team is ranked #2 or #4 in the world, so i seriously doubt that it is hardly known there. Also just because they don't have an international rugby team doesnt mean that they don't know what it is. So next time please try to get more repuatable sources, thank you.
  • *** I also have to disagree with the (un)popularity of rugby. First, to WHICH American continent are you referring? There are TWO, you know. In Argentina and Uruguay, it is actually the second most popular sport (after soccer). I teach alongside an Argentinian, and play rugby on a team with a Uruguayan. Try telling HIM it's not a popular sport in South America...
  • To me, the number one sport in the world is soccer, of course. Then it's basketball. Why basketball? Because of Yao Ming, Basketball is number one in China. It's also growing up in Europe, and South America, like Argentina and Brazil.

    cricket second most popular sport in the world if u haven't noticed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricket

i think it is volleyball. that's what I've heard to

Hello! In all this talk I am amazed that no-one has pointed out that actually there are two different forms of Rugby - in Australia during the summer cricket is the most popular sport, but during the winter Rugby League is top dog - in terms of playing numbers, attendances and tv viewing figures. In Britain domestic Rugby League is the second most watched team sport NOT rugby union - it is only the international matches in rugby union which pull in bigger crowds.

Actually during the winter, Australian Rules football is the number one sport by a long shot in every category. Whomever made the comment about rugby league being number one is completely untrue. In terms of live attendance the AFL draws the second highest average attendance of any sporting league in the world and gets well over twice the spectators rugby does. In terms on participation, more than 530,000 Australians play Aussie rules compared to 196,000 for rugby league. Aussie rules not only wins but dominates in winter.


It's Soccer/football first (with the World Cup being the most higly watched sporting event in the world) followed by the Olympics. Of course those are every four years. The most widely watched event world-wide year after year is FORMULA ONE auto racing.


#1 Is Soccer (Football) #2 is Judo!! Yes Judo, Americans do not realize this but it is very true....

#3 is Rugby, #4 is Baseball, #5 is Cricket and #6 is Football


Soccer, yes. Cricket, rugby, never. Did anybody mention horse racing? Or NASCAR?


Cricket is the Second Most Popular Sport in the World

Source :




Top 3 sports In terms of number of people crazy about it.

1. Soccer (By far the most popular in South America, Europe, Africa and middle east. Somewhat popular in East Asia. Least popular in South Asia(India, Pakistan, Srilanka).

2. Cricket (By far the most popular sport in India with >90% of the billion population crazy about it just like soccer in Brazil. It's also number one sport in Pakistan, Srilanka & Bangladesh. Its a number two in Australia, NewZealand and South Africa. It's also popular in UK and Several African countries.

3. Lawn tennis. This is the sport which is played everywhere in the world and is popular among elite and middle classes throughout the world.