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Top 10 Most Popular Sports In The World By Participation

It’s near-impossible to put a definitive number on participation in different sports around the world when picking out the most popular sports. In this list we’ve based our rankings on the number of players registered to clubs or leagues, so rather than including everyone who kicks a football in their back garden, we’re only counting those who play for a team etc.

Even at that, we acknowledge that the list is open for debate, and because of that we’d love to hear your thought/suggestions. you can get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter.

As the world’s number 1 crowdfunding site for sports,  we have worked with nearly every sport known to man to raise money through sports crowdfunding. The list below is the 10 most popular sports in the world.

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10. Golf

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Easily one of the most popular sports in the world, 60 million people around the world regularly play golf according to Golf Today magazine.

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The definition of regularly playing golf in the above figure refers to playing at least one round of golf per year.

9. Baseball

most popular sports

For many years, baseball was most popular in America than anywhere else, but nowadays it’s one of the most popular sports in the world with participation rising rapidly in countries like Japan.

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The sport’s international governing body, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), estimates that 65 million people play either baseball or softball in over 140 countries.

8. Table Tennis

most popular sports

Table tennis has become one of the most popular sports in the last decade following its integration in schools, social clubs, and sports centres around the globe. Topend Sports estimate 300 million people worldwide play table tennis.

7. Cricket

most popular sports

The majority of participants of this sport come from Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and the UK, but cricket is also on the rise in other countries all over the world.

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The International Cricket Council (ICC) states an incredible 125 countries around the world play the sport.

6. Tennis

most popular sports

Widely recognised as one of the most popular individual sports in the world, tennis is played by an estimated number of 60 million men and women according to Topend Sports.

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The sport is growing at serious speed in Asia, so don’t be surprised to see tennis rank higher among the most popular sports in years to come.

5. Basketball


The Federation of International Basketball Associations estimates a minimum of 450 million people play the sport around the world.

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Thanks to global superstars like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, basketball is very marketable and that is reflected in its top 5 ranking among the world’s most popular sports.

4. Volleyball


With its origins in America, volleyball has grown to an estimated global participation figure of 998 million people. Indoor and outdoor versions of the sport are played all over the world, with over 220 affiliated national federations registered to volleyball’s global governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball.

3. Field Hockey

most popular sports

This fast-paced sport is played by men and women in over 100 countries on 5 continents around the world.

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A firm favourite at the Olympic Games, field hockey is a highly technical sport, played by 10 outfield players plus a goalkeeper and its rules differ from the Ice Hockey variation of the sport.

2. Badminton

most popular sports

It may come as a surprise to some people that badminton is among the world’s most popular sports. However, it is extremely popular and played regularly by an estimated 220 million people around the world. It is particularly popular in Asia, with many of the best players ever to grace the game hailing from the continent.

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1. Soccer

most popular sports

Be it at grassroots level, 5-a-side leagues or at the top level, no sport rivals soccer for participation.

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In the last global census undertaken by the sports governing body FIFA, it was estimated that there are 265 million people who play the sport along with more than 5 million referees, which equates to 4% of the world’s population, thus cementing its place atop the list of the world’s most popular sports.

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