A significant sport in India, which is competitive in international terms, as well as in Korea and Turkey.  Some minor interest across a number of countries.





30     Speed Skating

33     Indycar

Very regional sport, but a huge sport in Australia, with considerable interest also in the UK.  Lesser global appeal means it remains to some extent in the shadow of it's larger cousin Rugby Union, which some its major starts have defected to.

12      Badminton

2    Basketball

Biggest Global Sports

A statistics-based analysis of the world's most popular sports

Dominant sport in: Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Netherlands, Nigeria. S. Arabia

Huge sport in: China, Japan, S.Korea, S. Africa

Major sport in: Australia, India, Canada

Medium sport in: US, Indonesia

1   Association Football (soccer)


High interest: All months

The following list of the world's biggest sports is based on data collected on amount of coverage from major online sports news websites on a daily basis across some of the world's biggest countries, with amount of coverage weighted by country size to evaulate a true list of the world's biggest sports.


Soccer is the biggest global sport and a top 10 sport in all countries measured, as well as the dominant sport in South America, Europe and Africa.  The world cup final is watched by an estimated 600 million people and the annual CL final by more than 300 million.  More than 200 countries take part in the world cup qualifying.  Has 5 of 10 worlds highest attended leagues and stars Messi and Ronaldo in top 10 paid sportsmen.

Huge sport in: US, China, Turkey

Major sport in: Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Spain, S.Korea, S.Arabia, Indonesia

Medium sport in: Australia, Japan, Nigeria, Netherlands, S. Africa

Minor sport in: UK

Fringe sport in: India

High interest: November to June

A massive sport in US and China, as well as major across continental europe and South America, making it one of the biggest global sports.  NBA finals broadcast in over 200 countries, with over 10 countries represented on the the rosters.  Over 200 national basketball federations. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant 2 of world's top 4 paid sportsmen


4     Cricket

Dominant sport in: India

Huge sport in: UK, Australia, South Africa

Minor sport in: Nigeria

Fringe sport in: France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, S.Korea, Netherlands. S. Arabia, Indonesia

High interest: All months

Dominates sports media coverage for around a quarter of the world's population in the Indian sub-continent.  Also huge in UK, Australia and South Africa.  2011 world cup final watched by more than 400 million globally and semi-final between Pakistan and India by reported 1 billion.  Indian hero Dhoni earns almost $30 million per year


3      Tennis

Major sport in: France, Germany, Italy, UK, China, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Turkey, S.Arabia, Indonesia, Netherlands, S. Africa and Australia

Medium sport in: Japan, US, S.Korea, Nigeria

High interest: May to September and January

Probably the world's most universal sport being in the top 7 sports in every single country measured and a major sport of interest in Asia, Europe, Australasia, Latin and North America, thus making it 3rd in world's biggest sports.  Wimbledon finals in top 10 most watched annual events and Roger Federer 2nd highest paid sportsman. More than 40 countries represented in top 100 players


5     Baseball

Huge sport in: US, Japan, S.Korea, Canada

Major sport in: Mexico

Minor sport in: Netherlands

Fringe sport in: France, Germany, Italy, UK, Australia, China, India, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, S. Arabia, Indonesia, Nigeria, S. Africa

High interest: April to October

Huge sport in 2 economic powerhouses of US and Japan, being the biggest sport in the latter.  Also a major sport in Canada, Mexico and Korea. MLB and Nippon league are the 2 most attended sports leagues in the world.  Many of world's stars are also from latin american origin.


6      Formula 1

Huge sport in: US

Major sport in: Canada, Mexico

Minor sport in: UK, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, Nigeria and S.Korea,

Fringe sport in: France, Italy, Netherlands, China, Russia, Australia, S. Arabia, S. Africa and Indonesia

High interest: August to February

The biggest sport in the US, with popularity fueled by the US domestic market, where the Superbowl is regularly the most watched annual event. Also big in neigbouring Canada and Mexico. Whilst less successful in globalising than other US sports, it maintains some interest as a minor sport in most of the world and has 2 of top 10 paid sporstmen.

formula 1

7      American football

Huge sport in: Indonesia

Major sport in: Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, S. Arabia,

Medium sport in: Japan, China. India, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa

Minor sport in: Australia, Canada, Nigeria.

Fringe sport in: US, S.Korea

High interest: February to November

Has a major following in Europe and Latin America, but also has strong interest across the developing world.  Races broadcast to over 200 countries with a reported estimated viewing figures of around 500 million per race.  Around $3 billion spent annually by the F1 constructors.  


Major sport in: Nigeria

Medium sport in: China, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, India, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, S. Africa, Netherlands, S. Arabia and Indonesia

Minor sport in: US, Australia, Canada, S.Korea

High interest: May to August

A very global sport with significant interest across all countries measured.  Most watched sport in world's biggest event, the summer Olympics, with 100m final an iconic global event gaining an estimated audience over a billion.  More than 40 countries gained medals at the last olympics from all continents.

8      Athletics


Major sport in: US, Japan, UK, S.Korea, S. Africa

Medium sport in: Australia, Germany, Italy, France, India, Canada, Netherlands and Spain

Minor sport in: China, Mexico, Turkey, Nigeria and Indonesia

Fringe sport in Brazil, Russia, S. Arabia

High interest: April to August

A major sport in US, Japan, Korea and UK, it also has solid interest in most of the rest of the world, including the rest of Europe and Australia.  Heavy interest for 4 majors and Ryder Cup between US and Europe.  Strong growth considered to be driven by global popularity of Tiger Woods. Annual Fedex Cup offers winner $10 million

9      Golf


Dominant sport in: Canada

Huge sport in: Russia

Major sport in: US

Medium sport in: Germany

Minor sport in: France, S.Korea, Netherlands

Fringe sport in UK, Italy, China, Japan, India, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, S. Arabia

High interest: November to June

Biggest sport in Canada, 2nd in Russia and 4th in the US, making it the biggest "winter" sport.  Some interest also in Western Europe.  World championship gained cumulative audience of over 700 million in over 100 countries, despite limited participation of some major NHL stars.

10      Ice Hockey

ice hockey

Major sport in: Mexico, Russia, Indonesia

Medium sport in: US, UK,  Germany, Spain, Japan, India, Brazil, S. Africa, S. Arabia and Nigeria

Minor sport in: France, Italy, China, Australia, Canada, S.Korea, Turkey, Netherlands

High interest:All year

Significant following in North and Latin America, much of Europe and Japan.  Floyd Mayweather reported to earn more than $50 million per fight.  World champions from every contininent, particularly Japan, Mexico, US, UK and Russia.  Less structured nature of sport considered to put popularity under threat from UFC.

11      Boxing


Huge sport in; Indonesia

Major sport in: China, India

Medium sport in: S.Korea

Minor sport in: Japan, Nigeria

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Russia, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Turkey, S. Arabia, Netherlands

High interest:August, April

Huge population reach being a top 5 sport in China Indonesia and India.  Players such as Lin Dan in China and Saina Nehwal in India are considered major sporting figures, with richest stars having a net worth of more than 30 million dollars.  More limited interest in Europe and America


13      Volleyball

Major sport in: Brazil, Turkey, S.Korea

Medium sport in: China, Japan, France, Italy, Russia

Minor sport in: Germany, Netherlands, S. Arabia, Nigeria, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: UK, US, India, Mexico, Canada, Spain

High interest:August to December

Big in the developing world, particularly Brazil, but also asia and parts of Europe.  More national federations than any other sport at more than 200 and some estimates place it as having the most number of participants. World championships screened live across Europe and Asia.


16      Snooker

Major sport in: China

Minor sport in: UK

Fringe sport in: Germany, India, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, Netherlands

High interest:October to May

High in the rankings primarily due to huge interest in China, where it is the number 4 sport.  Also some interest in UK, where it was traditionally based.  Now a large part of tour is played in China, whilst world championship has a prize pot of over $1 million  


15      Swimming

Medium sport in: France, Italy, Australia, China, Japan, Brazil, S.Korea, Netherlands, S. Africa, Indonesia

Minor sport in: UK, Germany, US, India, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Spain, S. Arabia

Fringe sport in: Nigeria

High interest:April to September

Global sport being top 20 in almost every country measured, although no higher than 8th in any country.  Second highest interest sport in Summer Olympics, with champions from US, Asia, Europe and South America, although more limited interest for regular events.  


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


17      Mixed Martial Arts

Major Sport in: Brazil

Medium sport in: US, Japan, Canada

Minor sport in: Russia, S.Korea, Mexico, S. Africa, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: UK, China, Spain, Turkey, Nigeria. Netherlands, S. Arabia

High interest:All months

Big in Brazil, but also with strong following in US Canada and Japan.  Driven by strong popularity of Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC), but also covers popular Japanese mixed martial arts events.  Star Anderson Silva reported to earn more than $500,000 per event.

GII Score: 



14     Cycling

Major Sport in: France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands

Medium sport in: UK. Germany, Australia, Mexico, Turkey, S. Africa, S. Arabia

Minor sport in: Russia, US, Brazil, India, China, S.Korea, Canada, Indonesia, Nigeria

Fringe sport in: Japan

High interest:May to July

Big in Europe, particularly France, Spain and Italy, where major tours are held, although failed so far to get a strong foothold in the US.  Tour De France finale is one of the most watched global events, with interest in the sport focussed on the tours of Italy and France.

           GII Score: 



18     Rugby Union

Huge sport in: South Africa

Major Sport in: France, UK, Australia

Medium sport in: Italy, Japan, Spain

Minor sport in: S. Arabia, Nigeria, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: Russia, Brazil, Germany, China, S.Korea, Turkey, Canada, Indonesia

High interest:September to May

A major sport for about 5% of worlds population living in Australia, South Africa, France and UK, with some interest in the rest of the world.  World cup is a huge global event, with attendance figures of 2 million+ across all games in recent versions, reportedly only surpassed only in scale by Olympics, football world cup and Tour de France

GII Score: 



20     Nascar

Major Sport in: US

Minor Sport in: Mexico, Canada

Fringe sport in: Russia, Brazil, UK, Italy, Spain, Turkey, S. Africa, Indonesia

High interest:May to November

A major sport in its homeland of the US, but with limited international interest, particularly outside North America.  In the US, it is the major motorsport and top driver Dale Earnhardt JR is reported to earn more than $20 million a year.

GII Score: 



21     Field Hockey

Major Sport in: India

Medium sport in: Netherlands

Minor sport in: UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, S. Africa

Fringe sport in: China, France, Russia, S.Korea, Spain, Canada, Turkey

High interest:December to July

Tradtionally considered the national sport in India, it is top 5 in interest there driving its top 20 position globally.  Estimated to have more than 3 million worldwide playing field hockey.  It maintains some interest in Western Europe, Australia and Japan.  

GII Score: 



23     Horse Racing

Medium sport in: UK, US, Japan, Australia

Minor sport in: Turkey, Canada

Fringe sport in: China, Germany, Italy, Brazil, S.Korea, Mexico, Spain, S. Africa, Netherlands, S. Arabia

High interest:March to June, October/November

Primarily a gambling sport, it maintains strong interest in US, UK, Japan and Australia, although has more limited appeal elsewhere.    Interest tends to focus on major races, such as the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National and the Melbourne Cup.  

GII Score: 


horse racing

22     Table Tennis

Medium sport in: China, Nigeria

Minor sport in: Germany, Japan, S.Korea, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Russia, Brazil, India, Spain, Turkey, Indonesia

High interest:January to May

A popular sport in China in particular, but maintains interest in Asia generally and in parts of Europe. One of the world's biggest participant sports, being played casually around the world.    

GII Score: 



24     Gymnastics

Medium Sport in: S.Korea

Minor sport in: Japan, China, US, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Nigeria, Indonesia

High interest:April to May, October

A consistent sport of interest across almost all of the countries tested (except India), although not a major sport in any.  Particularly interest in Asia. Interest is focussed on certain events, such as the Olympics and world championships.  

GII Score: 



26     Figure Skating

Medium Sport in: Japan, Russia, S.Korea

Minor sport in: China, France, Canada

Fringe sport in: UK, Italy, Germany, US, Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Netherlands

High interest:November to March

High interest in Japan, Korea and Russia and one of the most watched winter olympic sports.  It retains at least some interest in most of the major global countries in Europe, Americas and Asia.  

GII Score: 



27     Wrestling

Medium Sport in: India, Turkey

Minor sport in: US, Russia, Japan

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Germany, Australia, China, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Indonesia, Nigeria, S. Arabia

High interest:February to June, September

A traditional sport in a number of countries, particualrly in India and Turkey, where it maintains strong appeal, but also in Japan, Russia and the US.  It makes for one third of all Olympic medals gained in the last 2 games for India, driving popularity in this country.  Recently re-instated to summer olympics after initially being removed.

GII Score: 



28     Downhill Skiing

Medium Sport in: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands

Minor sport in: US, Canada

Fringe sport in: UK, Russia, Japan, China, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, S.Korea, Spain, Turkey, Indonesia, S. Arabia, S. Africa, Nigeria

High interest: December to March

A significant sport in continental Western Europe, where the skiing world cup remains important. Recorded as the 2nd most watched sport at the winter olympics.  It remains a fringe sport in most of the rest of the world, including Russia and Eastern Europe, where other winter sports are more popular.

GII Score: 



29     Diving

Medium Sport in: China

Minor sport in: Russia, Mexico

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Australia, S.Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, Netherlands

High interest:July, August, October

Has good interest in China, where multiple Olympic gold medallists such as Guo JingJing have celebrity status.  Has some interest across the world, although more focussed on World Aquatic Championships and Olympics

GII Score: 



19     Moto GP/Motorbike

Huge sport in: Indonesia

Major Sport in: Italy, Spain

Medium sport in: Netherlands, S. Africa, S. Arabia

Minor sport in: UK, Germany, France, Brazil, India, Australia, Turkey

Fringe sport in: China, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria

High interest:March to October

Strong interest in Southern Europe where many of the recent champions have come from.  Moderate interest across Europe, Australia, Brazil and India although no real traction in the US or Asia.

GII Score: 


moto gp

32     Rugby League

Huge Sport in: Australia

Medium sport in: UK

Fringe sport in: France, Spain

High interest:May to September

GII Score: 



25     Handball

Major Sport in: Germany, Spain

Medium sport in: France

Minor sport in: Russia, Brazil, S.Korea, Turkey, Netherlands, S.Arabia

Fringe sport in: UK, China, Japan, Nigeria

High interest:September to May

Some global interest in set places, particularly continental Europe, although with some interest also in South America and Asia.  No real coverage in US.

GII Score: 



Major sport in: Netherlands

Medium sport in: China, S.Korea

Minor sport in: Germany, Russia, Japan

Fringe sport in: US, Canada, S. Arabia

High interest:November to March

Some significant interest, particularly across Eastern Asia and central to Eastern Europe, although little to no traction in US or South America.

GII Score: 



Medium sport in: US

Minor sport in: Brazil, Canada

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Italy, Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, Netherlands, S.Africa, S.Arabia

High interest: March to August, particularly May

Indycar's interest remains primarily focussed on the  US domestic market, particularly the Indy 500, although there remains interest elsewhere.  It has slightly more international appeal than NASCAR racing, although lacks the domestic appeal to reach the same level on this list.  Top drivers can earn more than $10 million annually.

GII Score: 



34     Shooting

Minor sport in: India, China, Russia, S.Korea

Fringe sport in: UK, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Turkey, S.Arabia

High interest:September, January

Particularly big in India, where they have had previous Olympic success, but also significant interest in Russia, Korea and China, with strongest interest in Asia generally.  Limited interest as a spectator sport in the Western World



GII Score: 



38     Biathlon

Medium sport in: Russia, Germany

Minor sport in: France

Fringe sport in: Italy, China, Canada, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia

High interest:December to March

Mixture of cross country skiing and shooting.  Interest strongly focussed on Eastern and Central Europe, with Biathlon being the major winter sport in Russia and only behind Ice Hockey and Downhill skiing in Germany.  Little interest however outside of Europe.  

GII Score: 



35     Touring Cars

Medium sport in: Germany

Minor sport in: France, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Australia, S. Arabia, Nigeria

Fringe sport in: UK, India, US, , Italy, Japan, S.Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, Netherlands, S. Africa

High interest:April to Novermber, particuarly June

DTM racing particularly big in Germany, as well as V8 in Australia, although World Touring Car Championship has appeal everywhere.  Le Mans 24 Hour Race also a high-point in appeal, with some interest in touring cars in most countries measured.  

GII Score: 



37     Judo

Medium sport in: Brazil

Minor sport in: Japan, France, S.Korea, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, Germany, China, India, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Indonesia, S. Arabia

High interest:August

Interestingly now more popular in Brazil than its home country of Japan, it does mantain interest in Japan and Korea and in Western Europe, particularly France.

GII Score: 



39     Australian Rules Football

Huge sport in: Australia

Fringe sport in: UK, Spain

High interest:March to October

Interest almost entirely focused in areas of Australia, although here it is a huge sport.  Australian league has 4th highest average attendance in global sport. There are a few international teams, with a small amount of interest in the UK, but no real interest elsewhere.

GII Score: 



31     Rally

Medium sport in:France, Spain, Turkey, S. Arabia

Minor sport in: Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Russia, Mexico, S.Africa, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, US, Australia, India, S.Korea, Indonesia

High interest:January

Sport's interest focuses on world rally championship in Western Europe and the Dakar Rally, which is particularly big in the devleoping world in January and has a number of different disciplines. Global interest, but particularly in Europe.

GII Score: 



36     Weightlifting

Minor sport in: China, India, Mexico, Turkey, S.Korea, Nigeria, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: Russia, UK, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, S. Arabia

High interest:September-January, April

Some interest in 2 main population centres of India and China, as well as in Korea and Mexico.  The Olympic sport maintains a presence in Europe, particularly Turkey and Russia.

GII Score: 



42     Sumo

Medium sport in: Japan

Fringe sport in: Russia, China, Germany, Brazil, S.Korea

High interest:Jan, March, May, July, September

Traditionally the national sport of Japan, it has in recent years been overtaken by major Western Sport.  It does however maintain medium interest there, particuarly Grand tournaments held every two months

GII Score: 



41     Sailing

Medium sport in: Italy

Minor sport in: Brazil, France, Australia, Spain, Turkey, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, Germany, China, Japan, Russia, S.Korea, Mexico, S. Arabia, S,Africa

High interest:April to Decmeber

Interest in Europe, particularly the south, Australia and South America in this sport.  Interest comes from a mix of dinghy sailing as included in the Olympics and from major sailing events such as the Americas Cup.

GII Score: 


40     Archery

Minor sport in: India, S.Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: UK, Italy, US, China, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands

High interest:April to September

GII Score: 



44     Kickboxing  

Minor sport in: Japan, China, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: Russia, Turkey, Netherlands

High interest:Ocotber to April

Interest largely based in Asia, with some significant interest in China and Japan, particularly for Muay Thai martial art form of Kickboxing.  Limited interest in Western World currently, where mixed martial arts and Boxing are more popular

GII Score: 



43     Wushu (Kung fu)  

Minor sport in: China, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: S.Korea, Turkey, Spain


High interest:December

Interest limited largely to massive domestic Chinese market.  No real interest as a sport in the rest of the world, despite entering popular culture as a discipline.

GII Score: 



45     Fencing

Minor sport in: Germany, France, Italy, S.Korea

Fringe sport in: Japan, Brazil, Russia, US, China, Turkey, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia

High interest: July to September, November

Global sport although interest highest in continental Western Europe and Korea.  Interest mostly focussed on major championships such as olympics and world championships.

GII Score: 



50     Ski Jump

Medium sport in: Germnay

Minor sport in: Japan, Nethelrands

Fringe sport in: Russia, China, France, UK, Spain, Mexico, S.Korea, Saudi Arabia

High interest: December to March

The 6th most popular winter sport and particularly big in Germany, but also in Japan.  Elsewhere there is only limited interest.

GII Score: 


ski jump

46     Equestrian

Minor sport in: Germany, France, Netherlands

Fringe sport in: UK, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, S.Korea, S. Arabia, Indonesia

High interest: July to October

Popular in Western Europe, particularly around major events and especially in Germany and France.  Some interest globally in India, China and Brazil.

GII Score: 



GII Score: 


49     Surfing

Minor sport in: Australia, Brazil

Fringe sport in: France, Germany, Italy, US, China, Russia, Spain, Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia

High interest: May - July, November-December

Popular in South America and Australia particularly, but some interest around the world.  Interest focused on summer season in both North and Southern Hemisphere.


51-100 most popular sports


51. Beach Volleyball

52. Pool/Billiards

53. Kabaddi

54. Curling

55, Cross Country Skiing

56. Bobsleigh/luge

57. Squash

58. Freestyle skiing

59. Synchronised swimming

60. Triathlon

61. Water Polo

62. Darts

63. Snowboarding

64. Bull riding/rodeo

65. Trampolining

66. Softball

67, Canoeing

68. Drag Racing

69. Skateboarding

70. Motocross

71. Lacrosse

72. Karate

73. Windsurfing

74. Polo

75. Extreme sports/x-games

76. Rollerhockey

77. Dragon Boating

78. Tenpin Bowling

79. Racquetball

80. Netball

81. Bandy

82. Competitive Climbing

83. Pencak Silat

84. Mountain Biking

85. BMX

86. Speedway

87. Trial biking

88. Waterski

89. Competitive Paraglideing

90. Competitive Dance

91. Padel

92. Modern Pentathlon

93. Nordic Combined

94. Rafting

95. Croquet

96. Sepak Takraw (kick volley)

97. Rollerskating

98. Kempo

99. Chinlone

100. Ju Jitsu (Brazilian)


GII Score: 


GII Score: 


47     Rowing

Minor sport in: UK, Germany, Turkey, Indonesia

Fringe sport in: France, Italy, US, Australia, India, China, Russia, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Netherlands

High interest: April, May, September

Interest around the world, but generally only as a relatively niche sport.  Interest forcussed on Olympics, World Championships, although also interest in events such as Oxford vs Cambridge Univerisity Boat Race, which has more than 200k live spectators each year.  

GII Score: 



48     Taekwando

Minor sport in: S.Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Nigeria

Fringe sport in: UK, France, China, Russia, Brazil, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia

High interest: May, July and August

Particularly interest in homeland of South Korea, still the most successful nation in the Olympic sport but also around the world in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

GII Score: 



GII Score: