Most Popular Sports in The World: Registered Player and Fan Numbers

Do you know there are more than 7500 sports in the world? Well, it can also be said that there will be more variations of sports not even counted. Sports have become a crucial part of many people’s lives. In fact, they have been an important part of civilization. Sports are considered as an excellent source of entertainment, and exercise, a way that teaches team-building and also helps people to meet new friends. A sports activity can easily unite people from different areas under a shared interest, offering them a reason to cheer. However, when it comes to deciding the most popular sports, well, things can become very challenging. There are many factors or criteria one should consider carefully to measure a sport’s popularity correctly. For example, figures, attendance, fan numbers, players and more. 

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of sports statistics to discover the top 8 most popular sports in the world. This list is created by analysing the latest participation and fan numbers statistics. These top-rated sports have played a crucial role in bringing people together, creating a sense of passion and unity across different communities and cultures. So, guys, it’s time to fasten your seatbelts and embark on a journey to explore the most popular sports and the fascinating statistics related to those sports. 

World’s Top 8 Popular Sports

  • Football

Also known as soccer, Football is the most popular sport in the world. This game has become the king of game regions like the Middle East, South America, Europe, Central America, Asia, and Africa. As per some reports, the game has the most fans, i.e., more than 3.5 billion, and also has the most active players from almost every country. You will find every country has its own professional football league but the 2 well-known football leagues in the world are Spain’s La Liga and the English Premier League. Historical information says Football originated around 3000 years ago and it was called Tchatali and played by the Aztecs with a ball-shaped rock. The first ball game was discovered in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The game evolved with time and became quite popular across Europe before spreading to other countries.

It is projected that more than 250 million players from 200 countries play football. Speaking about the countries with the greatest number of stadiums, there are 300 stadiums in the United States. China, India, and the United Kingdom have 180, 150 and 170 stadiums, respectively. The factors that make this sport popular are unpredictable results and speed. 

  • Basketball

While talking about the top-rated sports, we can’t ignore basketball. The squeaky sneakers, black-stripped orange ball, and glossy surface on the court have excited over 400 million fans. As per a report by the FIBA- Federation of International Basketball Associations, around 450 million people in 213 countries play this sport at the national, local as well as community level. The interesting fact is even though the USA has the most football stadiums compared to other countries, basketball has received more popularity than football. The most popular franchise is the NBA and in 2022 and 2023, the NBA managed to generate more than 32 billion views. People love to play this game as it is a physically intensive, quick, and exciting sport. Besides, players with different skills can also enjoy Basketball. 

This game has given the World’s most popular and iconic basketball players, such as Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Other famous players are Yao Ming (China), Larry Bird (USA, and Magic Johnson (USA). Some of the most expensive Basketball teams in the world are the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Cleveland Cavaliers. 

  • Cricket

Nothing can beat the level of entertainment and excitement offered by cricket sport. This fast-paced game enjoys a long history that can be traced back to the 13th century when the sport was first played in England. Even though this sport is popular around the globe, it has immense popularity in South Asia where it is considered as a legacy game. In fact, in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan, cricket has become a favorite sport for people. It is also popular in countries like the West Indies, Australia, and South Africa. Cricket has more than 2.6 billion fans all over the world and around 90 percent of fans are from the Indian subcontinent. While the total number of registered cricket players is around 30 million, the number of professional players is 4,200. 

The T20 and One-day International formats have dominated the 21st century, there is also a huge popularity of test matches. Some of the famous cricket stadiums are Lords (London), The Oval (London), Eden Garden (India), Kensington Oval (Barbados), The WACA (Perth), and more. What makes the game popular is that the sport is incredibly dynamic and this is a strategic sport where players need to make decisions quickly to succeed. On the other hand, it has a robust social aspect. 

  • Hockey

Here we will talk about both Field Hockey and Ice Hockey. Both these variations are action-packed and fast-paced and require an intense amount of precision and skills. However, the game is fun for players as well as spectators. This game has been around since the 3rd Century. Some reports suggest Iranians and Ethiopians have played a similar type of game since 2000 BC. Speaking about modern field hockey, became popular in England during the 18th century. In 1876, the first Hockey Association was established by the UK. The association then created and implemented the rules.  More than two billion fans follow both these hockey formats. While the field hockey format is popular in Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe, in North America and Northern Europe, people love Ice Hockey.  The most successful team in this sport is Pakistan with 4 titles. Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands have won 3 titles. 

Coming to the Ice Hockey, the USA has 550,000+ registered players. Around 30 million players participate in this sport around the world. Reports say this sport is quite popular in Canada. This country has around 2500 indoor and 500 outdoor hockey rinks. In Canada, the sport is managed by the CHL- Canadian Hockey League authority and this league includes three major member leagues, i.e., the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, and the Ontario Hockey League. It has 60 teams from American states and Canadian provinces. 

  • Volleyball

Which sport has the most registered federations in the world? Some people would say Football as it is the most popular. But the correct answer is Volleyball. Even though this sport is quite simple, it is more global compared to other sports. While FIFA has 221 registered federations, in the case of Volleyball, it is 222. All these federations are registered with the FIVB- Federation International De Volleyball. This sport offers a perfect way to make new friends and doesn’t affect your musculoskeletal structure as the impact of this sport on your body is low.

 More than 800 million people around the world play this game. As per a report, around 37 million professional and local players from the US participate in this sport. This game has managed to generate more than 900 million worldwide followers and the major reason behind this can be the introduction of the Summer Olympic Games. The countries where this game has earned massive popularity are Poland, China, Japan, Brazil, Thailand, and Turkey. 

  • Tennis

With more than 1 billion fans and 87 million players, tennis has become a famous sport around the globe. This is not just a popular game; it is also considered as one of the most expensive sports. 4 major Grand Slam Tournaments i.e., Wimbledon, USA Open, Australian Open, and Roland-Garros raise a lot of money. Every year, more than 20 million people from the United Kingdom watch the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. However, every Grand Slam is played on different surfaces, offering a challenging atmosphere to players. Rafael Nadal, the Spanish tennis player is famous as the King of Clay, and he has won 14 French Open titles. 

People of different skill levels and ages can enjoy this sport. Reports say above 85 million people around the world participate or play in this game. This sport is quite famous in America, Europe and Asia. Some of the world’s best tennis players are C. Alcaraz, N. Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Daniil Medvedev. 

  • Horse Racing

Well, this game may not appear to be very popular at first, but you should check the numbers related to this sport to believe it. In the year 2020, more than 1.4 billion people all over the world watched this game. In fact, thousands of people participate in horse racing betting every year, which is really an amazing number. This sport has gained immense popularity in France, the USA, Australia, the UK, and Japan. Races like the Prix De L’Arc Du Triomphe, Kentucky Derby, Grand National, and Melbourne Cup attract millions of viewers every year.  Horse racing is so popular in Britain that it has surpassed football based on the number of viewers. There are thousands of jockey clubs across the world, including national and local clubs. 

Most of the national clubs are members of the IFHA- International Federation of Horse racing Authorities. Some of the most popular jockeys are James McDonald (AUS), Flavin Prat (USA), Ryan Moore (GBR), William Buick (GBR) and Irad Ortiz Jr (USA).  Some all-time famous racehorses are Frankel (UK), Red Rum (UK), Galileo (Ireland), Desert Orchid (UK), and Dancing Brave (UK).

  • Rugby

This fringe and exhilarating sport requires skills and immense strength, making it challenging and fun. We can say that it is a combination of multiple sports like American football, football, and soccer. This sport tests a player’s stamina, strength, speed and agility. The game made its first appearance in the 1900’s Olympics. With around 800 million fans in various nations, this sport is quite popular in Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom, America, Africa, and Europe. Rugby Union has around 406 million fans from all over the world. This game attracts around 10 million players including professional payers worldwide.  Both men and women have shown interest in this game and with time, more female players are joining the sport. 

Speaking about some famous Rugby teams, these are New Zealand’s All Blacks, Australia’s Wallabies, and South Africa’s Springboks. The top famous players of the Rugby Union are Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Jonny Wilkinson (England), Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) and Bryan Habana (South Africa). The most important competition in this sport is the Rugby World Cup which is organized every 4 years and 20 countries participate in this event.


Undoubtedly, sports act as a common threat to bind different people together across the world. That doesn’t mean that we all love the same sport, but as there are so many options to enjoy and play, every person has a preference. While for some cricket is the best sport in the world, some will say that it is Football. Well, we can say that nothing lasts forever, and a new game can even come up to the top of the list. However, for now, football sport is enjoying the maximum popularity with a huge number of fans and players. No matter what, sports will witness the same amount of attention from every generation in the future. Which is your favourite sport? If you have a different opinion regarding this, let us know in the comments below. 


  • As per the Public Gambling Act of 1867, all Indian states, except Goa, Daman and Sikkim, prohibit gambling
  • Land-based casinos are legalized, with certain guidelines, in Goa and Daman, as per the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976  
  • Land-based casinos, Online gambling and E-gaming (games of chance) are legalized in Sikkim under the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules 2009
  • Only some Indian states have legalized online/regular lotteries as per and subject to the conditions laid down by state laws. Kindly refer to the same here
  • Horse racing and betting on horse racing, including online betting, is permitted only in a licensed premise in select states. Kindly refer to the 1996 Judgement by the Supreme Court Of India here and for more information
  • This article does not endorse or express the views of Qrius and/or any of its staff.