Connect with us

Football Culture

Top 10 most popular sports in the world 2023 (fans & viewership)



Angola vs Morocco 2013 AFCON

Although there are numerous sports, some of which are played globally, whilst others exist only at a local level, there are some that transcend the others in terms of appeal and popularity.

These are the most popular sports in the world


1. Football/Soccer (4 billion fans)

512px 2015 UEFA Super Cup 54, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

By far the most popular of all sports is the game known as soccer in the USA and Canada, but simply as football to the rest of the world. It is estimated that in excess of 4 billion people identify as football fans worldwide, whilst the sport is played globally by 270 million people (and that does not take into account the hundreds of millions of people who play the game on improvised pitches using whatever is to hand to serve as a ball.)


It is estimated that much than half the world’s population at the time watched some of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


And popular competitions like the Champions League and the Premier League attract weekly audiences in the hundreds of millions, with matches broadcast live to most countries.


An increasingly important and growing segment of this market is women’s football, which, until comparatively recently was banned in some countries, but is now attracting an increasing number of players and spectators.


Unlike almost any other sport, football is both played and followed in almost every country on any continent in the world.

The basic simplicity of the game lies at the heart of its almost universal appeal.

Real Madrid is the most popular team in soccer. The Spanish giants are also one of the clubs with the most trophies globally, having won over 100 major trophies, including La Liga, Champions League, Club World Cup, Super Cup, Copa del Rey, etc.

2. Cricket (2.5 billion fans)

Southgate CC v Stanmore CC at Walker Cricket Ground Southgate London 01

Acabashi, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Cricket is in second place in the list with 2.5 billion fans, many of them concentrated in South-East Asia – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh – where it has quasi-religious status for many fans.

It is also home to the IPL (Indian Premier League) an annual twenty over a side franchise tournament that has become the richest of its kind in the world.


Cricket originated in England originally and was exported to its former colonies, which is why it became popular in the English speaking world.


Like football, women’s cricket is the fastest growing segment of this market.

The next step on its global journey as far as cricket is concerned is to “crack” the lucrative US market.


India is the most popular cricket team globally, as it is the hub of the sport globally. Some people say cricket is more like a tradition due to the large following in the country. The most popular team is the Indian Cricket team.


3. Ice Hockey (2 billion fans)

Ice hockey has a global fan base of 2 billion fans, although these are mostly congregated in North America and North Europe, where many people grow up playing the game, especially in the winter months.


By far the best known competition is the National Hockey League which is competed for by franchises based in the USA and Canada. Ice hockey is also a major Olympic sport.

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in the US, and the most popular team is the Chicago Blackhawks. They’ve won the Division Championship, conference, President’s Trophy, and Stanley Cup.


4. Tennis (1 billion fans)

Tennis has 1 billion fans worldwide, who have two major tours to follow – the ATP for men, and the WTA for women. In addition, there are several tiers below the main tours. Tournaments take place throughout the year, although the highlights are the four Grand Slams – the Australian, French and US Opens and Wimbledon.


The sport has also made global superstars of players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.

In terms of betting popularity, though, tennis is second only to football.

A barrier to entry in some countries for those wishing to take up the sport can be the lack of publicly available courts.


Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are some of the most famous tennis players in the world.


5. Volleyball (900 million fans)

Bulgaria serbia volley 2012

Biser Todorov, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Volleyball’s popularity is growing amongst both men and women, with increasing numbers of people taking up the sport. One thing that has held the sport up though is that it is less televised than many other sports, particularly outside major competitions like the Olympic Games.

The sport can be played in or outdoors, and beach volleyball is a popular variant.

Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, and Karch Kiraly are some popular volleyball players.


6. Table Tennis (875 million fans)

2012 Summer Olympics Mens Team Table Tennis Final 1

Joel Solomon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Table tennis – also frequently known as ping pong, originated in England in the early 20th century, but like other sports they have exported, it is other countries who have gone on to enjoy particular success with it.


Its fan base is mainly concentrated in East Asia, although it is also followed in Europe, the Americas, and Africa.

Table tennis is an individual sport. Some of the most popular players include Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Wang Liqin .


7. Basketball (825 million fans)

Carter vs Gasol Lakers vs Magic

Tim Wang, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just behind table tennis in terms of global popularity is basketball, which is one of the highest profile of all sports, especially with programmes like the “Last Dance” made about it.

That was based upon the exploits of Michael Jordan in the NBA (National Basketball Association) in the US, which can be considered one of the heartlands of the sport, and which, in revenue terms, is the third richest league in the world.


Basketball is one of the sports that dominate in the United States. It is also considerably popular in Europe, especially in countries like Spain, Turkey, and Greece.


8. Baseball (500 million fans)

Mookie Betts hitting the ball 36478781664

Red Sox at Orioles 9/18/17

Baseball has been called America’s national sport, although, in fact, it is also played and followed enthusiastically in countries like Venezuela, Japan and throughout the Caribbean.


Despite that the fan base does have a predominantly North American representation, which is why fans of other sports sometimes mock the climax of the MLB (Major League Baseball) season being called the World Series when, in reality, it is anything but.


Baseball is a traditional sport in the US. The Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox are some of the most popular teams.


9. Rugby Union (475 million fans)

Japan vs Samoa Rugby Matc 17 June 2012

Photo by Glen White, editing by Nigel Cross, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Another contact sport that originated in England – legend has it that it began when a schoolboy playing football picked the ball up and ran with it.

Like cricket it became popular in the English speaking world, but also has a substantial following in parts of France and Italy.


A variant on the game called Rugby League, is very popular in Australia and New Zealand, and also in northern parts of the UK.

Another sport that is getting increased traction from female fans.


10. Golf (450 million fans)

Golfer swing

Lilrizz, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Golf has around 450 million fans worldwide, although most of these are concentrated in North America, Europe, and Asia. They also tend to be male, overwhelmingly white, and middle class.

Like tennis, it has four major championships, three of which are held in the US, and one in the UK.


The sport itself is currently in turmoil with two competing tours vying to sign up the best players and stage the most prestigious tournaments.


As a participatory sport, golf suffers in many countries because there are few public courses, and, when they are available, it can be very expensive for the average player to play a round.

Tiger Woods is one of the most famous athletes in the history of golf. The American has also dominated it, winning major trophies.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.




Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV16 hours ago

Wigan Athletic vs Portsmouth FC TV channel, where to watch and live stream

Wigan Athletic will host Portsmouth at DW Stadium in round ten of the EFL League One. Wigan Athletic are returning...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV17 hours ago

Stevenage FC vs Oxford United FC TV channel, live stream and where to watch

Jordan Roberts’ first-half strike and Elliott List’s double helped Stevenage grab a big win over Cheltenham Town last weekend on...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV17 hours ago

Shrewsbury Town FC vs Charlton Athletic FC: TV channel, where to watch and live stream

Following the disappointing road trip to Leyton Orient, Shrewsbury Town will hope to make home advantage count when they face...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV17 hours ago

SC Farense vs Sporting Lisbon TV channel, where to watch and live stream

Farense welcomes Sporting Lisbon to the Estádio de São Luís in Faro as Primeira Liga enters round seven this weekend....

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV18 hours ago

Reading FC vs Burton Albion FC: live stream, TV channel and where to watch

Following last weekend’s disastrous outing against Blackpool, Reading FC will hope to make home advantage count when they face Burton...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV20 hours ago

Port Vale FC vs Bolton Wanderers FC TV channel, where to watch and live stream

Port Vale welcomes Bolton Wanderers to Vale Park in Stoke on Trent in the EFL League One round ten on...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV21 hours ago

Peterborough United FC vs Bristol Rovers FC: TV channel, where to watch and live stream

After exiting the Carabao Cup, Peterborough United will turn their attention to the League One as Bristol Rovers visit the...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV22 hours ago

Lincoln City FC vs Cheltenham Town FC: Where to watch, TV channel and live stream

Following the elimination from the Carabao Cup by West Ham in midweek, Lincoln City will shift focus to the EFL...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV1 day ago

Fleetwood Town FC vs Leyton Orient: where to watch, TV channel and live stream

Fleetwood Town and Leyton Orient will square off at Highbury Stadium in round ten of the EFL League One. Fleetwood...

Nivia Ashtang Gold Nivia Ashtang Gold
Football On TV1 day ago

Where to watch Exeter City FC vs Northampton Town FC on TV, live stream

Perhaps the biggest upsets in midweek, Exeter City knocked out Premier League side Luton Town in the third round of...