Top 10 Most Popular Sports In The World 

Here’s the list of the top 10 most popular sports In the world, including their estimated fan base, origin, and governing body:

RankSport NameEstimated Fans (Billions)OriginGoverning BodyMetrics Source
1Soccer/Football (Association Football)3.5+EuropeFIFASports Market Report 2024
2Cricket2.5EnglandICCInternational Cricket Council
3Basketball2.2USAFIBAInternational Basketball Federation
4Field Hockey2IndiaFIHInternational Hockey Federation
5Tennis1+MultipleITFInternational Tennis Federation
6Volleyball0.9+USAFIVBFédération Internationale de Volleyball
7Table Tennis0.85+ChinaITTFInternational Table Tennis Federation
8Baseball0.5+USAMLBMajor League Baseball
9American Football0.4+USANFLNational Football League
10Golf0.39ScotlandThe R&A & USGAGolf Digest readership (2023), Nielsen Fan Engagement Reports (2022)

1.Soccer/Football (Association Football) – 3.5 Billion Fans

Soccer Football

Soccer, known as football, is the world’s most popular sport with over 3.5 billion fans. Played by two teams of 11 players on a rectangular field called a pitch, the aim is to score goals by getting the ball into the opponent’s net.

The game is played with a round ball, primarily using feet, but players can use other parts of their body except for their hands and arms.

Only goalkeepers can handle the ball, and only within their penalty area. The game lasts for 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each.

If the match is tied, extra time or a penalty shoot-out may determine the winner, depending on the competition’s rules.

Soccer is governed by a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game, which have been in place since 1863 and are maintained by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

With over 250 million players in more than 200 countries, soccer’s popularity is undeniable.  FIFA, the international governing body, oversees global competitions, including the prestigious FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

These tournaments attract huge global audiences, with the men’s World Cup being the most-watched sporting event in the world.

Soccer is part of the culture of many countries and brings people together, sometimes even influencing social and political situations. For instance, the Ivory Coast national team once played a role in uniting their nation during a civil war.

Reference Sources:

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association)

2. Cricket – 2.5 Billion Fans 


Cricket is the second most popular sport loved by billions around the world in 2024. It’s played with a bat and ball by two teams of eleven players each.

The game is played on a big field with a 22-yard pitch in the middle. At each end of the pitch, there are three wooden sticks called stumps with two small pieces of wood on top, called bails.

In cricket, one team bats and tries to score runs, while the other team bowls and fields. The batting team scores runs by hitting the ball and running to the other end of the pitch.

They can also score if the ball hits the boundary of the field or if the bowler makes a mistake. The bowler tries to get the batter out by hitting the stumps with the ball or by getting the batter to hit the ball in the air so a fielder can catch it.

However, there are different kinds of cricket matches. T20 matches are short and last about three to four hours. Each team bats for 20 overs, and an over is a set of six balls bowled.

Test matches are longer and can last up to five days. In Test matches, each team gets to bat twice, and there’s no limit on the number of overs.

Cricket players usually wear white clothes in Test matches, but in shorter games like T20, they wear colorful uniforms.

Players also wear protective gear because the cricket ball is very hard and can hurt. Cricket has a long history, starting in England in the mid-1500s.

The game spread around the world during the British Empire, and the main group that controls cricket today is the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the rules are kept by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London.

Cricket is especially popular in South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Southern Africa, and the West Indies.

Australia is the most successful cricket team, having won the most World Cups and been the top team in Test matches the most times. Women’s cricket is also growing, with many international matches and tournaments.

Reference Source:

International Cricket Council (ICC)

3. Basketball – 2.2 Billion fans 


Basketball is the third most popular sport In 2024 with over 2.2 billion fans around the world. It’s a sport played between two teams, each with five players, on a rectangular court.

The main aim is to shoot a ball through the opponent’s hoop while defending your own. Players can score points by making successful shots, with different points awarded depending on the shot’s distance.

The game involves dribbling (bouncing the ball while moving), passing, and shooting. Offensive players use various techniques like layups, jump shots, and dunks to score, while defensive players aim to steal the ball or block shots.

Basketball originated in 1891 by James Naismith in Massachusetts, USA. It has grown into one of the world’s most popular sports, with the NBA being the premier professional league.

International competitions like the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Olympic Basketball Tournament attract top teams from around the globe.

In recent years, basketball’s popularity has continued to rise, with billions of fans enjoying the sport’s action and skillful maneuvers. Its exciting gameplay makes it a favorite among people of all ages and backgrounds.

Reference Source:

FIBA (International Basketball Federation)

4. Field Hockey – 2 Billion Fans 

Field Hockey

Field hockey, commonly known as hockey, ranks among the top 10 most popular sports globally, boasting an impressive fan base of 2 billion fans.

This sport involves 11 players per team, including 10 field players and a goalkeeper. The objective is to drive a hockey ball around the field, striking it with hockey sticks toward the opposing team’s shooting circle and ultimately into the goal.

Victory is claimed by the team that accumulates the most goals. Matches take place on different surfaces like grass, watered turf, artificial turf, or indoor boarded surfaces.

Street hockey, a causal variant, is often enjoyed by children in Canada, using makeshift nets on street surfaces.

Hockey sticks are typically crafted from wood, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or a blend of carbon fiber and fiberglass.

These sticks have a rounded and flat side, with only the flat face permitted for ball progression. Goalkeepers hold a unique role, being the sole players allowed to touch the ball with any part of their body.

The roots of hockey stretch far back in history, with early forms documented in ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

Over time, the sport developed into the structured game we know today, with modern rules and regulations overseen by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The sport’s popularity surpasses global, with participation in international competitions like the Olympics, World Cup, FIH Pro League, and various junior and club tournaments.

Countries like India and Pakistan have historically dominated the sport, boasting numerous Olympic gold medals. In recent years, synthetic turf has revolutionized the game to improve speed and introduce new tactics.

Reference Sources:

International Hockey Federation (FIH)

5. Tennis – 1+ Billion Fans


Tennis, with over a billion fans worldwide, is one of the most popular sports in 2024. It’s a game where players use rackets to hit a ball back and forth over a net.

The goal is to hit the ball so that the opponent can’t return it properly. You can play tennis by yourself against one opponent or with a partner against another team.

Anyone can play tennis, no matter their age or ability. Even people in wheelchairs can join in. Tennis is loved all around the world and is even part of the Olympics.

The game hasn’t changed much since the 1800s, except for a few rules like the tiebreak. Now, there’s technology to help with close calls called Hawk-Eye.

Tennis started in France and England many years ago. Kings and queens used to play it for fun. Over time, it spread to other countries like the United States and became more organized.

Today, there are four big tennis tournaments called the Grand Slam. They’re the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. These tournaments are watched by millions of people and are very important in the tennis world.

Reference Source:

International Tennis Federation (ITF)

6. Volleyball – 0.9 Billion Fans 


Volleyball is one of the top 10 most popular sports in 2024 with a fan base of 0.9 billion. Originating in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA, in 1895, volleyball was initially called Mintonette before becoming its current form.

Its inclusion in the Summer Olympic Games since Tokyo 1964 and the introduction of beach volleyball at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics make It more famous.

Played by two teams of six players each, volleyball revolves around skillful ball control, strategic positioning, and powerful plays.

The objective is simple: send the ball over the net and ground it within the opponent’s court while preventing the opposing team from doing the same. Each rally begins with a serve, initiating a series of passes, sets, and attacks until one team wins the point.

One of the volleyball’s excitement is its fundamental techniques like spiking, blocking, passing, and setting, which players master to outmaneuver opponents. The game demands agility, coordination, and teamwork, making it exciting for both players and spectators.

Over the years, volleyball has seen important rule developments, including the establishment of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) in 1947 and the introduction of beach volleyball as an Olympic sport in 1996. Its adaptability is obvious in the growing popularity of sitting volleyball at the Summer Paralympic Games.

Reference Source:

Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB)

7. Table Tennis – 0.85 Billion Fans

Table Tennis

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is one of the most popular sports worldwide with approximately 0.85 billion fans.

It’s a fast-paced racket sport played on a table, where players hit a lightweight ball back and forth over a net using small rackets.

The game’s origins trace back to Victorian England, where it was initially a parlor game for the upper class. It gained popularity over time, evolving with innovations like celluloid balls and rubber-coated rackets.

In 1926, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was established to govern the sport globally. Table tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988, featuring singles and team events.

To make the game more spectator-friendly, rule changes were introduced, such as switching from a 21-point to an 11-point scoring system.

The equipment also developed, with the introduction of larger 40 mm balls and regulations on racket materials.

The game is played on a table measuring 2.74 meters long, 1.525 meters wide, and 76 centimeters high, divided by a net.

Players use wooden rackets covered with rubber on one or both sides, with different surfaces providing varying levels of spin or speed. This sport can be played indoors in any climate and enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels.

Reference Source:

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)

8. Baseball – 0.5 Billion Fans 


Baseball is one of the world’s most beloved sports, with over half a billion fans globally in 2024. Played between two teams of nine players each, baseball is all about hitting and running.

The game kicks off with the pitcher, the player from the fielding team, throwing the ball to the batter from the opposing team.

And, the batter’s mission is to hit the ball with a bat and make it to the bases without getting tagged by the fielders. Each team takes turns batting and fielding.

To score a run, a player needs to touch all four bases and reach home plate. But it’s not easy, the fielding team works hard to get the batters and runners out by catching the ball or tagging them with it.

Baseball doesn’t have a time limit, unlike other sports.  Instead, it’s played in innings, with each team batting and fielding. The team with the most runs at the end wins. Baseball can be traced back to England, but it found its home in North America.

It’s not just big in the USA; it’s popular in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia like Japan and South Korea.

In professional baseball leagues like Major League Baseball (MLB), teams battle it out to reach the World Series.

Reference Source:

Major League Baseball (MLB)

9. American Football – 0.4 Billion Fans

American Football

American football, also known as football in North America, is one of the most popular sports In the world In 2024. Originating from a blend of soccer and rugby, this team sport has grown significantly since its inception.

American football is seen by its rectangular field and goalposts at each end, and it is played by two teams of eleven players each

The game revolves around the offense, aiming to advance the oval-shaped football down the field either by running or passing, while the defense strives to halt their progress and seize control of the ball. To maintain possession, the offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs or plays.

Points are scored primarily by either advancing the ball into the opposing team’s end zone for a touchdown or kicking it through the opponent’s goalposts for a field goal.

In the United States, where American football reigns, it boasts massive viewership numbers, particularly at the professional and collegiate levels.

The National Football League (NFL), with its annual highlight, the Super Bowl, commands exceptional attention, making it the most lucrative sports league globally.

Despite its dominance in the US, American football’s international following continues to grow, with notable interest in countries like Canada, Europe, Brazil, and Japan.

However, it hasn’t attained the global popularity of sports like basketball or soccer. The sport emerged In the 19th from collegiate matches between schools like Rutgers and Princeton.

Over time, rule changes shaped the game into what we recognize today, with figures like Walter Camp instrumental in defining its structure.

Professional football emerged in the late 19th century, with players originally playing for the love of the game before the beginning of paid participation.

Also, the formation of the NFL in the early 20th century was a turning point that led to the sport’s professionalization and eventual rise to prominence.

Reference Source:

National Football League (NFL)

10. Golf – 0.39 Billion Fans


Golf has maintained its position In the top 10 ranking as one of the most popular sports, with an estimated 0.39 billion fans in 2024.

While its roots can be traced back centuries, the sport has seen major expansion and evolution, especially in recent decades. The rise of golf as a global sport is apparent in the expansion of courses worldwide.

In China, for example, golf’s popularity rose despite governmental restrictions, with the number of courses tripling between 2004 and 2009.

Similarly, countries like the United States have witnessed changes in demographics, with women now comprising 25% of golfers, a notable increase from previous years.

Despite some fluctuations in participation rates, golf remains a major fixture in many countries. In 2019, the United States led with 16,752 courses, followed by Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Moreover, the PGA Tour is one of the most prestigious, attracting top talents and offering substantial prize money. Additionally, women’s golf has its main tours, with the LPGA Tour being the ideal for female golfers.

The sport’s value is also underscored by its inclusion in major international events like the Olympic Games. After a break spanning over a century, golf returned to the Olympics in 2016.

Reference Source:

The R&A – Official Website

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