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Greetings, sports aficionados!

Are you prepared to embark on a thrilling adventure?

Discover the fascinating world of European sports, sorted by popularity!

From die-hard fanatics to eager beginners, this list offers engaging activities for all levels of athletic prowess. Delve into Europe’s rich sporting culture and get ready to be captivated!

European Sports List

  1. Football (Soccer)
  2. Basketball
  3. Tennis
  4. Rugby
  5. Ice Hockey
  6. Volleyball
  7. Handball
  8. Cycling
  9. Athletics (Track and Field)
  10. Skiing

#1 Football (Soccer)

Football (Soccer)

Originating in England in the mid-19th century, football, or soccer as it is known in some countries, is now the world’s most popular sport. Governed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football has a massive following, especially in Europe and Latin America.

The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, is the sport’s most prestigious tournament, while UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League are other notable competitions. Football became an Olympic sport in 1900.

#2 Basketball

Basketball

Although invented in the United States by Dr. James Naismith in 1891, basketball has become increasingly popular throughout Europe. Leagues such as Spain’s Liga ACB and Turkey’s Basketball Super League are among the strongest.

The EuroLeague is the premier club competition, featuring the best European basketball teams. Basketball has been part of the Olympic program since the 1936 Berlin Games, and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) governs the sport.

#3 Tennis

Tennis

Tennis has its roots in 12th-century France, where it was played with a hand or glove and a ball. The modern game of tennis, played with a racket and a net, was developed in England in the late 19th century.

Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament, began in 1877, and the French Open, Australian Open, and US Open comprise the four Grand Slam events.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) oversees the sport, and tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1896, with a hiatus from 1924 to 1984.

#4 Rugby

Rugby Sevens

Rugby traces its origins to England in the early 19th century and is now popular across Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, France, and Italy.

The sport is divided into two main variants: Rugby Union, governed by World Rugby, and Rugby League, governed by the International Rugby League (IRL).

Major rugby tournaments include the Rugby World Cup and the annual Six Nations Championship. Rugby returned to the Olympic Games in 2016 in the Rugby Sevens format.

#5 Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is believed to have evolved from similar stick-and-ball games in the United Kingdom in the 18th century.

Introduced to Europe by British soldiers stationed in Canada, the sport became especially popular in Northern European countries, such as Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Russia.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) governs the sport, and the annual Ice Hockey World Championships and Winter Olympic Games are major international competitions. Ice hockey has been an Olympic sport since 1920.

#6 Volleyball

Volleyball

Volleyball, invented in the United States by William G. Morgan in 1895, has gained wide popularity throughout Europe. Countries such as Russia, Italy, and Poland have enjoyed success in international competitions.

The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) oversees the sport, and the Volleyball Nations League, Volleyball World Cup, and World Championship are notable tournaments. Volleyball has been an Olympic sport since the 1964 Tokyo Games.

#7 Handball

European Handball

Handball, a sport in which two teams of seven players each pass a ball to throw it into the opposing goal, has its origins in various team sports across Europe from the 19th century.

It is particularly popular in Germany, France, and the Nordic countries. The International Handball Federation (IHF) governs the sport, and major events include the IHF World Men’s Handball Championship and the EHF Champions League.

Handball became an Olympic sport in 1936, but was only included permanently from the 1972 Munich Games onwards.

#8 Cycling

Cycling

Cycling has been a popular sport in Europe since its invention in the 19th century. Various disciplines of cycling are governed by the International Cycling Union (UCI), and races such as the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España ensure the continued popularity of road cycling.

Track cycling, mountain biking, and BMX are also widespread across Europe. Cycling has been part of the Olympic program since the first modern Games in 1896.

#9 Athletics (Track and Field)

Athletics

Athletics, an ancient sport with roots in the early Greek Olympic Games, encompasses various track and field events that test speed, strength, and endurance. It is immensely popular throughout Europe, featuring stars such as Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.

The European Athletics Association (EAA) governs the sport in Europe, while the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is the international governing body. Athletics has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Games in Athens, 1896.

#10 Skiing

Skiing, both as a means of transport and a sport, has been practiced in Europe since prehistoric times.

Today, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and freestyle skiing are popular, especially in the Alpine and Nordic countries. The International Ski Federation (FIS) is the global governing body for the sport.

Alpine skiing has been a part of the Winter Olympics since 1936, while cross-country skiing was included in the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924.

More European Sports

  1. Swimming: Swimming has a long history, dating back to prehistoric times. It is popular throughout Europe, with many countries boasting strong competitive swimming programs. Governed by the International Swimming Federation (FINA), swimming features numerous events in the Summer Olympics, and the World Swimming Championships are held every two years.
  2. Boxing: Boxing originated in ancient civilizations and evolved into the modern sport in the 18th century in England. It is popular across Europe, with countries such as the United Kingdom, Russia, and Ukraine producing numerous champions. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is the governing body for amateur boxing. Boxing has been an Olympic sport since the 1904 St. Louis Games.
  3. Fencing: Fencing can trace its roots back to ancient Egypt and Rome, but the modern sport was developed in Europe during the Renaissance. It is especially popular in countries like France, Italy, and Russia. The Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE) governs the sport. Fencing has been a part of the Olympic program since the first modern Games in 1896.
  4. Golf: Golf originated in 15th-century Scotland and soon spread throughout Europe. The sport is governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the United States Golf Association (USGA). Major tournaments include the Open Championship, the Masters, the US Open, and the PGA Championship. Golf returned to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence.
  5. Sailing: Sailing has its roots in ancient civilizations and is popular throughout Europe, particularly in coastal countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) oversees the sport. Sailing has been part of the Olympic program since the 1900 Paris Games.
  6. Gymnastics: Gymnastics originated in ancient Greece and has evolved into a popular and highly competitive sport, particularly in European countries such as Russia, Romania, and Germany. The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) governs the sport. Gymnastics has been part of the Olympic program since the first modern Games in 1896.
  7. Water Polo: Water polo was developed in the late 19th century in England and Scotland, and is especially popular in Southern and Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Serbia, and Croatia. The sport is governed by FINA, and water polo has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games.
  8. Rowing: Rowing dates back to ancient Egypt, but the modern sport developed in England in the 17th century. It is popular across Europe, particularly in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. The International Rowing Federation (FISA) oversees the sport, which has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games.
  9. Martial Arts (Karate, Judo, etc.): Martial arts such as karate and judo have their origins in Japan, and have gained significant popularity throughout Europe. The International Judo Federation (IJF) and the World Karate Federation (WKF) govern their respective sports. Judo has been a part of the Olympic program since the 1964 Tokyo Games, while karate was introduced at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  10. Cricket: Cricket originated in England in the 16th century and became popular throughout the British Empire, including European countries such as Ireland and the Netherlands. The International Cricket Council (ICC) governs the sport. Cricket is not an Olympic sport, but major competitions include the ICC Cricket World Cup and the ICC World Twenty20 Championship.
  11. Field Hockey: Field hockey is thought to have originated in ancient civilizations, with the modern version developing in 19th-century England. The sport is popular in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) governs the sport. Field hockey has been an Olympic sport since the 1908 London Games, with the exception of the 1924 Paris Games.
  12. Table Tennis: Table tennis, also known as ping pong, traces its origins to Victorian England. The sport is popular throughout Europe, particularly in countries such as Germany, Sweden, and Hungary. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) governs the sport, and it has been an Olympic sport since the 1988 Seoul Games.
  13. Badminton: Badminton evolved from ancient games in India and Europe, with the modern version originating in 19th-century England. The sport is popular across Europe, particularly in Denmark, Spain, and England. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) oversees the sport. Badminton has been an Olympic sport since the 1992 Barcelona Games.
  14. Skateboarding: Skateboarding, although originating in the United States, has gained popularity across Europe in recent decades. The sport is governed by World Skate, and skateboarding made its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  15. Surfing: Surfing has its origins in ancient Polynesian culture, but is now popular in European countries with suitable coastlines, such as Portugal, Spain, and France. The International Surfing Association (ISA) governs the sport, and it made its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  16. Windsurfing: Windsurfing, a combination of sailing and surfing, was invented in California in the 1960s and has since become popular throughout Europe. The International Windsurfing Association (IWA) oversees the sport, which has been part of the Olympic program since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
  17. Squash: Squash was developed in 19th-century England and is now popular across Europe, particularly in England, France, and Germany. The sport is governed by the World Squash Federation (WSF), and major tournaments include the World Championships and the European Championships. Squash is not an Olympic sport, but it has been included in the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games.
  18. Bobsleigh: Bobsleigh, a winter sport involving racing down an icy track in a sled, was developed in the late 19th century in Switzerland. The sport is popular in European countries such as Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) governs the sport, which has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the 1924 Chamonix Games.
  19. Skeleton: Skeleton is a winter sliding sport in which a person rides a sled down a frozen track while lying face down. The sport originated in Switzerland in the late 19th century and is popular among European countries, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Skeleton is governed by the IBSF and has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
  20. Cross Country Skiing: Cross country skiing is a Nordic skiing discipline that originated in Scandinavian countries as a means of transportation and has evolved into a popular winter sport across Europe. It is governed by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the inaugural 1924 Chamonix Games.
  21. Biathlon: The biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, has its origins in Norwegian military exercises. The sport is popular in Nordic and Central European countries, such as Norway, Germany, and Russia. The International Biathlon Union (IBU) governs the sport, and it has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the 1960 Squaw Valley Games.
  22. Nordic Combined: Nordic combined, a sport combining cross-country skiing and ski jumping, originated among Scandinavian skiers. It remains popular in Nordic countries, as well as Central European nations such as Germany and Austria. The FIS governs the sport, which has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the 1924 Chamonix Games.
  23. Ski Jumping: Ski jumping, a sport in which skiers jump from specially designed ramps, originated in Norway in the 19th century. It remains popular in European countries such as Norway, Finland, and Poland. The FIS governs the sport, which has been part of the Winter Olympic program since the 1924 Chamonix Games.
  24. Figure Skating: Figure skating, which involves performing choreographed routines on ice skates, originated in Europe during the 19th century. The sport is popular across Europe, particularly in Russia, France, and Italy. The International Skating Union (ISU) governs the sport, and figure skating has been a part of the Winter Olympic program since 1908.
  25. Speed Skating: Speed skating, a race on ice skates, has its origins in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. It is popular in European countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia. The ISU governs the sport, and it has been a part of the Winter Olympic program since the inaugural 1924 Chamonix Games.
  26. Curling: Curling, a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice toward a target, originated in 16th-century Scotland. The sport is popular in European countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Scotland. The World Curling Federation (WCF) governs the sport, and curling has been a part of the Winter Olympic program since the 1998 Nagano Games.
  27. Archery: Archery is an ancient sport that has been practiced for thousands of years across the globe. It is popular throughout Europe, particularly in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and France. The World Archery Federation (WA) oversees the sport, and archery has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games, with a hiatus from 1920 to 1972.
  28. Shooting: The sport of shooting, which involves tests of marksmanship using firearms and other ranged weapons, has been practiced for centuries. It is popular across Europe, particularly in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Italy. The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) governs the sport, and shooting has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Games in 1896.
  29. Kayaking: Kayaking is a water sport that involves paddling through the water using a double-bladed paddle while sitting in a small, narrow boat called a kayak. The sport is popular across Europe, particularly in Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) governs the sport, and kayaking has been part of the Olympic program since the 1936 Berlin Games.
  30. Rafting: Rafting, a thrilling water sport in which participants navigate a raft through rough waters, is popular across Europe, especially in countries with fast-flowing rivers such as France, Italy, and Austria. Wildwater canoeing, a related discipline, is governed by the ICF, which organizes the World and European Wildwater Canoeing Championships.
  31. Triathlon: The triathlon, a multi-sport event combining swimming, cycling, and running, was developed in the United States during the 1970s and has since become popular throughout Europe. The International Triathlon Union (ITU) governs the sport, and the triathlon has been an Olympic sport since the 2000 Sydney Games.
  32. Mountain Biking: Mountain biking, an off-road cycling discipline, was developed in the United States during the 1970s and has gained popularity throughout Europe. Countries such as France, Italy, and Switzerland have thriving mountain biking scenes. The UCI governs the sport, and mountain biking has been included in the Summer Olympic program since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
  33. Mountaineering: Mountaineering, the sport of climbing mountains, has a long history in Europe, particularly in countries such as Switzerland, France, and Italy. The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) governs the sport, which is not part of the Olympic program. However, sports climbing, a related discipline, made its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  34. Orienteering: Orienteering, a sport that combines running and navigation, was developed in Sweden in the 19th century. It is popular throughout Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, as well as other countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) governs the sport, and orienteering is included in the World Games, but not the Olympics.
  35. Horse Racing: Horse racing, a sport involving the racing of horses, has been practiced for thousands of years. It is popular across Europe, particularly in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Ireland. Flat racing and steeplechasing are among the most popular forms of horse racing, and prestigious events include the Grand National and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Horse racing is not an Olympic sport.
  36. Polo: Polo, a team sport played on horseback, likely originated in ancient Persia and spread to Europe in the 19th century. It is popular in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Argentina. The Federation of International Polo (FIP) governs the sport, and major events include the FIP World Polo Championship. Polo was an Olympic sport between 1900 and 1936, but is no longer included in the program.

FAQ

What are the most popular European sports?

The most popular European sports include football (soccer), basketball, tennis, rugby, ice hockey, volleyball, handball, cycling, athletics (track and field), and skiing.

How many different European sports are listed?

Our European sports list includes 46 unique sports.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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