Football definitely dominates when it comes to popularity of team sports around the world and Europe is no exception to this rule. However, what sport comes right after football in terms of popularity? Well, when it comes to European countries, basketball is certainly close second, followed by ice hockey, handball, rugby, volleyball, cricket and futsal. Here is a list of the most popular team sport for every European country, excluding football (table at the end).
Criteria used to rank popularity of team sports in European countries:
- Interest (Google searches)
- Success of national teams in certain sports
- Number of casual and amateur players
Basketball is the second favorite sport to many European countries. It is a popular sport among fans in:
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Spain, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in Europe, with 24 countries picking it as their most beloved sport, apart from football.
The Italian, the Spanish, the Turkish and the Greek national teams are ranked the highest when it comes to basketball (FIBA Europe ranking).
#2. Ice Hockey
Ice hockey isn’t only enjoyed in the United States, Canada and Russia, in fact, it is one of the most popular sports in Europe. The sport is heavily enjoyed in countries that are quite cold during the winter. Either Eastern or Northern European countries tend to enjoy ice hockey the most.
The 12 countries that prefer football and ice hockey over any other sport are: Russia, Austria, Belarus, Czechia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Moldova, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Finland is the absolute top of the International Ice Hockey Federation rankings, even beating Canada in the World rankings. Other European countries which excel at ice hockey are Russia, Sweden, Czechia, Switzerland and Slovakia.
The number three spot goes to handball. Handball is enjoyed the most in such European countries as: Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, North Macedonia, Norway and Romania. Those 7 countries have the most interest in handball among fans.
Spain, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and Sweden are definitely top of the charts in terms of team performance.
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Rugby is certainly the most popular in English-speaking countries such as Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, but it is also well-liked in France. England generally prefers cricket, but is also full of rugby aficionados.
Both Ireland and France are at the very top on the men’s world rugby rankings. England, Wales and Scotland are also very high on the list, beaten only by South Africa and New Zealand.
Volleyball is the prefered team sport of Poland, Netherlands and Bulgaria.
Poland currently hold the very top of the FIVB Senior World Ranking (2022), and it isn’t rare for both Bulgaria and the Netherlands to take up spots at the top of the ranking list. Both countries’ teams are regularly featured in the Top 10.
#6. Other Sports
The remaining two countries are England and Portugal, England’s second favorite team sport is Cricket. Seems that Portugal loves football so much that it’s second most popular team sport is futsal!
England ranks very high on the ICC rankings. With only three countries being higher (Australia, India and South Africa), England is the leading European competitor in the ICC.
Portugal is ranked third in the UEFA EURO 22 Futsal list, defeated only by Russia and neighboring Spain.
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