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Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire, is not just known for its rich history and culture but also its passion for sports.

Soccer may top the charts, but what other sports captivate the hearts of Azerbaijanis?

Unveil the 11 most popular sports in Azerbaijan in our list below.

Most Popular Sports in Azerbaijan:

  1. Soccer
  2. Volleyball
  3. Chess
  4. Athletics
  5. Martial Arts
  6. Basketball
  7. Wrestling
  8. Gymnastics
  9. Futsal
  10. Rugby
  11. Paragliding

#1 Soccer

Soccer
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Azerbaijan: Anatoliy Banishevski (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 50,000

Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Azerbaijan. Since its introduction in the early 20th century, the beautiful game has captured the hearts of Azerbaijanis and continues to grow in popularity.

The Azerbaijan Premier League, the country’s premier soccer competition, sees top clubs battling for dominance. Azerbaijani soccer icon Anatoliy Banishevski, known for his remarkable skill and vision, remains an inspiration for young talent. Qarabag FK, the country’s most successful team, has had success in European competitions as well, instilling national pride.

Through local clubs and international representation, soccer holds a special place in Azerbaijan’s sports culture.

#2 Volleyball

Volleyball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 1940s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Azerbaijan: Polina Rahimova (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 20,000

Volleyball has grown to become one of the most loved sports in Azerbaijan. Both indoor and beach volleyball are widely played and followed, with a particular focus on the women’s national team.

The Azerbaijani Volleyball Superleague sees fierce competition among clubs locally, while the national team participates in international tournaments such as the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix. Polina Rahimova, a key player for the national team, serves as an inspiration for aspiring volleyball players.

With the sport’s popularity rising, volleyball cements its position within Azerbaijan’s sporting landscape.

#3 Chess

Chess
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Azerbaijan: Garry Kasparov (Azerbaijani-Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 5,000

Chess enjoys a special status in Azerbaijan, thanks to its rich tradition and the remarkable legacy of Azerbaijani grandmasters. Regarded as an intellectual pursuit and a sport, chess is seeded deeply within the country’s culture.

Azerbaijan has produced some of the world’s finest players, with Garry Kasparov being the most celebrated. Chess clubs, tournaments, and educational programs help nurture young talent, encouraging strategic thinking and competitiveness.

As the game’s prominence in Azerbaijan continues to rise, new players and champions are being fostered, contributing to a growing chess legacy.

#4 Athletics

Marathon
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 1917
  • 🌟 Most Famous Athlete from Azerbaijan: Nazim Huseynov (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Azerbaijan: 100,000

Athletics has been an integral part of Azerbaijan’s sporting culture since the early 20th century, encompassing a diverse range of disciplines, such as track and field, road running, and racewalking.

Most notably, Azerbaijan has produced outstanding competitors in wrestling. Nazim Huseynov, a gold medalist in the 1992 Olympic Games, is revered as one of the country’s premier athletes. Annual events such as the Baku Marathon help popularize various athletic endeavors, promoting a culture of fitness and competition.

Azerbaijan’s continued investment in athletics ensures the development of exceptional talent and shared national pride.

#5 Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Martial Artist from Azerbaijan: Rafael Aghayev (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Martial Arts Practitioners in Azerbaijan: 15,000

Martial arts enjoy a strong presence in Azerbaijan’s sports culture, with various disciplines such as judo, karate, and taekwondo cultivating a dedicated following. These sports emphasize discipline, strength, and technique, contributing to the nation’s athletic achievements.

Azerbaijan has successfully produced top-level martial artists who have excelled in international competitions. Rafael Aghayev, a multiple-time World and European champion, stands out as a national hero in karate. Azerbaijan’s martial arts community actively participates in national and international tournaments, showcasing the country’s talent and fostering pride.

Cultivating a reputation for excellence and discipline, martial arts maintain a revered spot in Azerbaijan’s sporting realm.

#6 Basketball

Basketball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: Mid 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Azerbaijan: Gunduz Agayev (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 5,000

Basketball in Azerbaijan has grown steadily in popularity since its introduction in the mid 20th century. Despite soccer’s overwhelming spotlight, basketball has found its niche among the sports-loving public.

The Azerbaijani Basketball Super League represents the country’s premier basketball competition. Teams across the nation compete in intense games, vying for the top spot in the standings. Gunduz Agayev, an accomplished player who has competed internationally, serves as an inspiration for upcoming talent.

As the game’s popularity rises, basketball continues to develop in Azerbaijan, both on a national and international level.

#7 Wrestling

Wrestling
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: Ancient Times
  • 🌟 Most Famous Wrestler from Azerbaijan: Namig Abdullayev (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Wrestling Practitioners in Azerbaijan: 15,000

Wrestling holds an esteemed place in Azerbaijan’s sports culture, tracing its roots back to ancient times. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman styles are practiced extensively throughout the nation.

Azerbaijan has produced numerous world-class wrestlers who have competed and found success on international stages. Namig Abdullayev, an Olympic gold medalist, epitomizes the nation’s wrestling prowess.

From local clubs to international competitions, and driven by tradition and cultural significance, wrestling remains a cornerstone of Azerbaijan’s sports landscape.

#8 Gymnastics

Gymnastics
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Gymnast from Azerbaijan: Marina Durunda (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Gymnasts in Azerbaijan: 3,000

Gymnastics, in its various forms such as rhythmic, artistic, and trampoline, has become a popular sport in Azerbaijan in recent years. The dazzling combination of athleticism, grace, and precision captivates audiences both locally and internationally.

Azerbaijan has successfully nurtured exceptional gymnasts, with Marina Durunda as a standout for her achievements in rhythmic gymnastics. The country has also hosted prestigious events such as the European Championships and World Cups, further solidifying its commitment to developing the sport.

With continued support and a thriving talent pool, gymnastics in Azerbaijan flourishes, leaving a lasting impact in the sports world.

#9 Futsal

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 1990s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player in Azerbaijan: Vitaliy Borisov (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 2,000

Futsal, a variation of soccer played indoors with a smaller ball and fewer players, has gained a devoted following in Azerbaijan. Its fast-paced, skill-focused nature adds a unique twist to the traditional game.

The Azerbaijani Futsal Premier League showcases the finest futsal clubs in the country, with competitive and exciting matches. National team player Vitaliy Borisov has achieved recognition for his outstanding performances.

Azerbaijan’s national futsal team has also made its presence felt at international competitions, adding further prestige to the sport. Futsal’s growth in Azerbaijan reflects the nation’s love for soccer and sporting versatility.

#10 Rugby

Rugby Sevens
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 2004
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player in Azerbaijan: Ramil Gurbanov (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Azerbaijan: 1,000

Rugby, although relatively new to Azerbaijan, has experienced rapid growth within the sports community. Both rugby union and rugby sevens have gained traction, with local clubs and the national team striving for success.

Azerbaijan’s rugby players, such as Ramil Gurbanov, have shown immense potential despite the sport’s short history in the nation. The Azerbaijan Rugby Union Championship is the main domestic competition, fueling the passion for rugby across the country.

Azerbaijan’s national teams, particularly in rugby sevens, have participated in international competitions, showcasing the sport’s promising future in the country.

#11 Paragliding

Paragliding
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Azerbaijan: 1990s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Paraglider in Azerbaijan: Ilham Zakiyev (Azerbaijani)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Paragliding Enthusiasts in Azerbaijan: 500

Paragliding, an adventurous air sport, has captured the imagination of Azerbaijanis in recent years. The breathtaking landscape of Azerbaijan, with its majestic mountains and stunning vistas, provides an ideal setting for this exhilarating activity.

Ilham Zakiyev, an accomplished paraglider, has drawn attention to the sport and encouraged its growth in Azerbaijan. Paragliding competitions and events held within the nation have also piqued interest in the sport, allowing enthusiasts to connect and share their passion.

The growing popularity of paragliding in Azerbaijan reflects the nation’s adventurous spirit, as well as its appreciation for the outdoors and dynamic sports.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in Azerbaijan?

Soccer is the most popular sport in Azerbaijan, with a passionate fan base and strong cultural connection, including numerous players at various levels and a competitive national league.

What is the national sport of Azerbaijan?

The national sport of Azerbaijan is soccer, also known as football, which holds a special place in the country’s cultural and sporting traditions and enjoys widespread support and popularity.

What are the most watched sports in Azerbaijan?

The most watched sports in Azerbaijan include soccer, volleyball, chess, athletics, martial arts, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, futsal, rugby, and paragliding, each having their own dedicated fan bases and unique appeal across the country.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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