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Delve into the world of sports in Iran, a land of rich culture and history.

Soccer undoubtedly leads the pack, but many other exciting sports captivate Iranians.

Explore our list of the 11 most popular sports in Iran and uncover the true sporting heartbeat of this magnificent country.

Most Popular Sports in Iran:

  1. Soccer
  2. Volleyball
  3. Basketball
  4. Wrestling
  5. Weightlifting
  6. Taekwondo
  7. Athletics
  8. Table Tennis
  9. Futsal
  10. Karate
  11. Judo

#1 Soccer

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1920s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Ali Daei (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 2 Million

Soccer has a special place in the hearts of Iranians, with generations embracing it as the country’s top sport. The Persian Gulf Pro League stands as Iran’s most prestigious soccer competition, featuring the best teams in the nation.

Ali Daei, Iran’s most renowned player, holds the world record for the highest number of international goals scored. Fans still reminisce about Iran’s memorable World Cup victories, including the 1998 match against the United States. Soccer remains an integral part of Iran’s cultural landscape, inspiring passion and unity among its people.

#2 Volleyball

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1950s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Saeid Marouf (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 500,000

Volleyball is another popular sport in Iran, with a strong fanbase and impressive international performances. The Iranian Volleyball Super League represents the country’s top-tier volleyball competition and showcases exceptional talent.

Saeid Marouf, Iran’s superstar setter, has brought recognition to the country’s volleyball prowess. Iran has had several notable moments in international competitions, such as their 2016 FIVB World League bronze medal. This fast-paced and exciting sport continues to captivate audiences in Iran and cultivate new talent for its national team.

#3 Basketball

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Hamed Haddadi (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 400,000

Basketball has found a home in Iran since its introduction, with the country embracing this high-energy sport wholeheartedly. Iran’s Super Basketball League showcases the top-notch teams and players from the nation.

Hamed Haddadi, a legendary Iranian basketball player, has had a successful career in the NBA and FIBA competitions. Iran’s national basketball team has achieved considerable success in Asian championships, securing gold in multiple events. The sport’s popularity continues to grow in Iran, inspiring young athletes to pursue their hoops dreams.

#4 Wrestling

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Significance in Iran: Ancient Times
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Wrestler from Iran: Gholamreza Takhti (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Wrestlers in Iran: 100,000

Wrestling holds a deep cultural and historical significance in Iran, with origins dating back to ancient times. Traditional Iranian wrestling, called Koshti, is a source of national pride and continues to be practiced today.

Gholamreza Takhti, an iconic figure in Iranian wrestling, won Olympic and World Championship medals in the 1950s and 1960s. Iran has continued to excel in both traditional and modern wrestling competitions, earning numerous medals in international events.

The sport remains an essential part of Iran’s cultural identity, encouraging physical prowess, discipline, and respect in its participants.

#5 Weightlifting

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Significance in Iran: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Weightlifter from Iran: Hossein Rezazadeh (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Weightlifters in Iran: 50,000

Weightlifting has long been a respected sport in Iran, showcasing incredible displays of strength and power. The country has a rich history of producing world-class weightlifters, dominating competitions on the global stage.

Hossein Rezazadeh, known as the “Iranian Hercules,” holds numerous world records and Olympic gold medals. Iran’s weightlifting achievements have been a great source of national pride.

The recent successes of athletes like Sohrab Moradi and Kianoush Rostami continue to uphold Iran’s reputation as a weightlifting powerhouse, inspiring future generations to take up the sport.

#6 Taekwondo

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1970s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Hadi Saei (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 300,000

Taekwondo is another popular martial art in Iran, instilling discipline and self-defense skills in its practitioners. Iranian athletes have excelled in international taekwondo competitions, earning the country admiration and respect.

Hadi Saei, Iran’s most successful taekwondo athlete, has won multiple Olympic and World Championship medals. His accomplishments have helped propel the sport’s popularity, propelling it to the mainstream.

The Iranian Taekwondo Federation continues to cultivate talent and foster a strong foundation for future athletes, ensuring Iran remains a frontrunner in this dynamic sport.

#7 Athletics

Marathon running
  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Significance in Iran: Ancient Times
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Athlete from Iran: Mohammad Reza Geraei (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Iran: 200,000

Athletics, as one of the oldest and most fundamental sports, boasts a rich history and significant cultural value in Iran. The country has produced numerous notable athletes throughout the years, demonstrating exceptional skill in various disciplines.

Mohammad Reza Geraei, as an example, has made significant strides in the world of sprinting, clinching Olympic and Paralympic gold medals for Iran. Nationally and internationally, numerous track and field events captivate audiences, with Iranian competitors performing admirably in prestigious competitions.

Athletics remains deeply ingrained in Iran’s sporting culture, contributing to the nation’s sense of pride and unity.

#8 Table Tennis

Table Tennis
  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Neda Shahsavari (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 150,000

Table tennis has gained considerable popularity in Iran, with fans enjoying its fast-paced nature and tactical nuances. The sport has become a staple in recreational centers and homes across the country, inspiring friendly competition and camaraderie.

Neda Shahsavari, Iran’s top female table tennis player, has represented her country in multiple international competitions, such as the Olympics and Asian Championships. These events attract enthusiastic viewership, showcasing Iran’s talented pool of athletes.

The Iran Table Tennis Federation endeavors to uphold the sport’s growing popularity, supporting its players and nurturing future talent with unmatched dedication.

#9 Futsal

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1980s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Vahid Shamsaei (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 100,000

Futsal has seen tremendous growth in Iran, with its fast-paced, indoor adaptation of soccer resonating with fans. The Iranian Futsal Super League highlights the best teams and players from across the nation, drawing passionate crowds.

Vahid Shamsaei, Iran’s most famous futsal player, has an incredible scoring record and international impact. Iran has also established itself as a powerhouse in Asian Futsal Championships, consistently dominating the competition.

The sport’s excitement and accessibility continue to garner popularity in Iran, attracting new players and spectators alike.

#10 Karate

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1960s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Saeid Ahmadi (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 500,000

Karate holds a prominent place in Iran’s martial arts landscape, with practitioners honing their skills in discipline and self-defense. Iranian athletes excel in international karate competitions, earning global recognition and medals.

Saeid Ahmadi, a notable Iranian karateka, has represented his country in the Olympics and World Championships, securing numerous victories. Iran’s success in the sport is showcased in events like the Asian Karate Championships, where the national team boasts multiple titles.

Karate remains an enduring aspect of Iran’s athletic culture, with continued growth and enthusiasm for the sport.

#11 Judo

  • ๐Ÿ“… Year of Introduction in Iran: 1950s
  • ๐ŸŒŸ  Most Famous Player from Iran: Javad Mahjoub (Iranian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Iran: 300,000

Judo is a prominent martial art in Iran, with a focus on physical strength and mental focus. The sport has evolved into a fundamental aspect of Iranian athletics, with both male and female practitioners achieving national and international success.

Javad Mahjoub, a top Iranian judoka, has secured significant victories in Asian and World Judo Championships. Iran enjoys a strong presence in international judo competitions, with athletes often reaching the podium at prestigious events.

Judo’s popularity in Iran is maintained through a passionate fanbase, eager to celebrate the accomplishments of the nation’s elite athletes.


What is the most popular sport in Iran?

Soccer, or football, is the most popular sport in Iran, enjoyed by millions and embedded in the nation’s culture, with a strong national team and the Persian Gulf Pro League.

What is the national sport of Iran?

The national sport of Iran is soccer (football), as it holds a significant position in the country’s cultural and sporting traditions, and is enjoyed by a vast majority of Iranians.

What are the most watched sports in Iran?

The most watched sports in Iran include soccer (football), volleyball, basketball, wrestling, weightlifting, taekwondo, athletics, table tennis, futsal, karate, and judo, each with dedicated fan bases and thriving domestic leagues.

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 โ€˜realโ€™ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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