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Israel, a country known for its rich history and diverse culture, also boasts a vibrant sports scene.

Soccer undoubtedly reigns supreme, but what other sports capture the hearts of Israelis?

Uncover the most popular sports in Israel in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Israel:

  1. Soccer
  2. Basketball
  3. Tennis
  4. Hockey
  5. Cricket
  6. Athletics
  7. Baseball
  8. Martial arts
  9. Gymnastics
  10. Swimming
  11. Volleyball

#1 Soccer

soccer
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1920s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Yossi Benayoun (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 500,000

Soccer is the undisputed king of sports in Israel, with an avid fanbase and countless aspiring players. The Israeli Premier League serves as the top-flight soccer league in the country, with fans passionately supporting their favorite teams.

Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli midfielder known for his time in the English Premier League, is celebrated as one of the finest Israeli soccer players. Israel’s national team has had its share of memorable moments, such as their qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 1970.

Soccer, deeply rooted in Israeli culture, continues to unite the country and evoke strong emotions among its people.

#2 Basketball

Basketball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1930s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Tal Brody (Israeli-American)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 250,000

Basketball follows soccer as the second most popular sport in Israel, garnering immense support and admiration. The Israeli Basketball Premier League is the home of fast-paced, high-quality basketball, with fans attending games in droves.

Legendary Israeli-American player Tal Brody played a significant role in elevating Israel’s basketball status on the global stage, mainly through his time with the renowned Maccabi Tel Aviv team. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s European championship wins have created unforgettable moments for Israeli basketball fans.

From the local courts to the national stage, basketball has firmly established itself as a beloved sport in Israel.

#3 Tennis

Platform Tennis
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Shahar Pe’er (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 100,000

Tennis holds a special place in Israel’s sports landscape, showcasing finesse, technique, and athleticism. The sport has grown in popularity, with more people participating in tennis clubs and programs.

Shahar Pe’er, a former Israeli professional tennis player, reached career-high rankings and truly put Israel on the tennis map. Israelis follow global tennis tournaments, such as the Grand Slams, with keen interest.

With a rich tennis history and an increasing number of enthusiasts, tennis’s appeal in Israel thrives as both a recreational and competitive sport.

#4 Hockey

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1980s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Eliezer Sherbatov (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 2,000

Hockey, specifically ice hockey, is a niche sport in Israel that has developed a dedicated following. The Israeli Ice Hockey League provides a platform for competitive play, while the national team has participated in various international competitions.

Eliezer Sherbatov, a skilled Israeli ice hockey player, has represented Israel in international tournaments and gained recognition for his prowess. Ice hockey games attract enthusiastic fans, who admire the speed, skill, and ferocity the sport offers.

Although not as widespread as soccer or basketball, hockey continues to carve a space for itself in Israel’s sports scene, exciting its growing fanbase.

#5 Cricket

Cricket (women’s)
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1960s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Herschel Gutman (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 3,000

Cricket, primarily popular among immigrant communities, is steadily gaining a following in Israel. The Israel Cricket Association oversees the domestic league, with teams spread across the country, enhancing the sport’s presence and development.

Herschel Gutman, an Israeli cricketer, has significantly contributed to the growth of cricket in Israel, both as a player and a coach. Israel’s cricket team participates in various international competitions, creating memorable moments for their growing fanbase.

Cricket’s distinct charm and spirit continue to attract more enthusiasts, solidifying its position as an emerging sport in Israel.

#6 Athletics

Long jump
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: Ancient Times
  • 🌟 Most Famous Athlete from Israel: Ayelet Malka (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Israel: 100,000

Athletics, encompassing various sporting events, holds an essential part in Israel’s sports tradition. The country has produced several champions, record holders, and participants in competitions like the Olympic Games and the European Athletics Championships.

Ayelet Malka, a famous Israeli triple jumper, represents the dedication and talent within the Israeli athletics community. Israel regularly participates in international athletics events, both as competitors and organizers.

With a rich history and a commitment to excellence, athletics continues to thrive in Israel, producing national heroes and fostering a love for various sports disciplines.

#7 Baseball

Baseball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1970s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Danny Valencia (Israeli-American)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 10,000

Baseball, primarily familiar due to American influence, is a growing sport in Israel. The Israel Baseball League, though short-lived, showcased the potential for the sport’s growth in the country. The Israel Association of Baseball now governs all baseball-related activities.

Israeli-American player Danny Valencia has represented Israel on an international level, gaining recognition for his skills. The Israeli national baseball team has made history by participating in the World Baseball Classic and qualifying for the Olympics.

With dedicated players and fans, baseball is gradually carving its niche in Israel’s sports scene, proving that it’s more than just an American pastime.

#8 Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Popularity Surge in Israel: 1980s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Martial Artist from Israel: Avi Rokah (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Martial Arts Practitioners in Israel: 50,000

Martial arts, encompassing a variety of disciplines, have become increasingly popular in Israel. From traditional karate and judo to Krav Maga – Israel’s homegrown self-defense system – martial arts are embraced for both personal growth and self-defense.

One of the most famous Israeli martial artists is Avi Rokah, a world-renowned karate instructor. Martial arts schools and training centers continue to emerge throughout the country, catering to a wide array of styles and disciplines.

The blend of discipline, self-defense, and physical fitness provided by martial arts resonates with many Israelis, ensuring the popularity of these ancient arts.

#9 Gymnastics

Gymnastics
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Gymnast from Israel: Alex Shatilov (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Gymnastics Enthusiasts in Israel: 20,000

Gymnastics, a sport that combines strength, agility, and grace, has captivated Israel’s interest for decades. With various gymnastics clubs and training facilities across the country, Israelis have embraced the athletic and artistic aspects of the sport.

Alex Shatilov, a celebrated Israeli artistic gymnast, has represented the nation on the global stage in prestigious events like the Olympic Games. Israel’s gymnastics community enthusiastically follows international competitions, taking pride in their athletes’ accomplishments.

Gymnastics’ unique combination of physical and artistic skills continues to draw admirers in Israel, inspiring the next generation of athletes.

#10 Swimming

Swimming
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Swimmer from Israel: Amit Ivry (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Swimming Enthusiasts in Israel: 1 Million

Swimming enjoys widespread popularity in Israel as a competitive sport and leisure activity. The country’s Mediterranean coastline and numerous public pools offer ideal conditions for swimming enthusiasts of all levels.

Amit Ivry, an accomplished Israeli swimmer, has made waves in the international swimming arena, setting national records and representing Israel in the Olympic Games. Israelis follow swimming competitions closely, both locally and internationally, celebrating their athletes’ successes.

As a sport that resonates with Israelis’ love for the water, swimming continues to play a prominent role in the nation’s sports landscape.

#11 Volleyball

Volleyball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Israel: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Israel: Galit Devash (Israeli)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Israel: 30,000

Volleyball in Israel, both indoor and beach versions, has garnered a dedicated following over the years. The sport is embraced for its teamwork, strategy, and fast-paced action, with numerous amateur and professional leagues operating in the country.

Galit Devash, a well-known Israeli volleyball player, has contributed significantly to the sport’s growth and recognition in Israel through her international achievements. Israelis enjoy watching local and international tournaments, taking pride in their national teams’ performances.

Volleyball’s dynamic gameplay and relentless action ensure its place as a beloved sport in the Israeli sports scene, attracting fans of all ages.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in Israel?

Soccer, also known as football, reigns supreme as the most popular sport in Israel, capturing the hearts of Israelis and fostering a strong fanbase across the country.

What is the national sport of Israel?

Soccer (football) is considered the national sport of Israel, deeply embedded in the nation’s cultural and sporting heritage, and enjoying widespread support from the population.

What are the most watched sports in Israel?

The most watched sports in Israel include soccer (football), basketball, tennis, hockey, cricket, and athletics, each attracting significant attention and fan bases throughout the nation.

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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