Top 10 List of the World's Most Popular Sports

We all have our favorite sports, but which sports are the most popular around the world? The problem is coming up with a clear defining meaning for popular - by popular do we mean most watched, the most played, or the sport with the most passionate fans!

Soccer is clearly the most popular sport in terms of fans. The FIFA World Cup held every four years has a huge TV audience - over 30 billion people watched the 2006 World Cup in Germany (I know that's more than the world's population, this figure is an 'accumulated' audience, meaning if people watched more than one game, which most people did, they were counted each time).

The list below was found online and no source for the fan numbers has been found, though I generally agree with the sports on the list. Field hocey is widely played, though I'm not sure it should be ranked so high. Not everone agrees with the list, you can see quite a heated discussion in the comments below.

rank Sport Estimated Fans Regional Popularity
1. Soccer / Association Football 3.5 Billion Europe, Africa, Asia, America.
2. Cricket 2.5 Billion Asia, Australia, UK.
3. Field Hockey 2 Billion Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.
4. Tennis 1 Billion Europe, Asia, America.
5. Volleyball 900 Million Europe, Australia, Asia, America.
6. Table Tennis 850 Million Europe, Africa, Asia, America.
7. Baseball 500 Million America, Japan.
8. Golf 450 Million Europe, Asia, America, Canada.
=9 Basketball 400 Million America.
=9 American Football 400 Million Europe, Africa, Asia, America, Australia.

note: the source of the list is www.mostpopularsports.net. This is the same sport order as several other lists found online. The source of the fan numbers is unknown (note: this list is no longer on the site).

On the same website, there are top sports lists for each country, based on the estimated number of fans using a very interesting method to measure popularity. The lists are based on the results of website visitor traffic analysis (using the Alexa traffic rank) of over 300 sports websites, which reflect which sports the internet users in the particular country are most interested in. Regional popularity gives an insight into where the fan base is located around the world. See also a list based on a similar principle - website traffic to sports pages on Wikipedia and Google Search Sports Terms.

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