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Have you ever wondered about the heartbeat of Russia?

It’s not just in its vodka or ballet!

When it comes to sports in Russia, soccer ranks high on the list.

But what else fuels the passion of this vast nation?

Discover the most popular sports in Russia in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Russia:

  1. Soccer
  2. Ice Hockey
  3. Basketball
  4. Volleyball
  5. Figure Skating
  6. Wrestling
  7. Gymnastics
  8. Boxing
  9. Biathlon
  10. Tennis
  11. Handball

#1 Soccer

Soccer
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Late 1800s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Lev Yashin (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 2 Million

Soccer holds a special place in the hearts of Russians, with its rich history and widespread following. The sport is enjoyed by millions, who come together in support of their favorite teams and players.

The Russian Premier League is the country’s top professional soccer league, featuring fierce competition between teams and rousing fan bases. Lev Yashin, also known as the “Black Spider,” is perhaps Russia’s most famous soccer player and is still revered as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Russia, became an unforgettable event, showcasing the country’s passion for soccer while uniting fans from across the globe.

#2 Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Pavel Datsyuk (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 100,000

Ice hockey is a beloved sport in Russia, garnering immense popularity due to the country’s cold climate and the game’s high-intensity action. It’s deeply ingrained in Russian culture and tradition, making it a source of national pride.

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is Russia’s premier ice hockey league, featuring the best talent from across the country and beyond. Russian hockey player Pavel Datsyuk, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, has gained worldwide recognition for his skill and sportsmanship.

Historic moments, such as the Soviet Union’s Olympic dominance, have solidified ice hockey’s status as a quintessential Russian sport.

#3 Basketball

Basketball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: 1936
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Andrei Kirilenko (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 450,000

Basketball has steadily gained prominence in Russia since its introduction, with the sport becoming increasingly popular among both players and fans. The nation has produced remarkable talents who have captured the world’s attention and raised Russia’s profile in the sport.

The VTB United League serves as the leading professional men’s basketball league in Russia, showcasing top teams and exceptional players. NBA star Andrei Kirilenko is a household name in Russia and has paved the way for future generations of aspiring basketball players.

Russians’ passion for basketball is evident in their fervent support for both local clubs and international competitions, marking the sport’s significance in the nation’s culture.

#4 Volleyball

Volleyball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: 1920s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Sergey Tetyukhin (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 500,000

Volleyball is an immensely popular sport in Russia, celebrated for its combination of athleticism, teamwork, and competitive spirit. Russian volleyball clubs and national teams have consistently ranked among the world’s best, earning numerous titles in both domestic and global competitions.

Russia’s premier volleyball league, the Russian Volleyball Super League, puts on display the nation’s finest talent and ensures that the sport remains a staple in Russian culture. Sergey Tetyukhin, a Russian volleyball legend, is revered for both his skills and leadership, inspiring legions of fans and future players.

Volleyball enjoys a prominent place in Russia’s athletic landscape, balancing both competitive and recreational aspects that attract a diverse array of participants and spectators.

#5 Figure Skating

Figure Skating
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Skater from Russia: Evgeni Plushenko (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Skaters in Russia: 200,000

Figure skating is a treasured sport in Russia, celebrated for its blend of artistry and athleticism. It’s deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, and Russian skaters have consistently excelled on the international stage.

Russia’s figure skaters often dominate major competitions, including the World Championships and the Olympics. Four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko is a prime example of Russia’s figure skating prowess, mesmerizing fans with his elegant performances.

The sport’s popularity spans from young children to adults, who are drawn to the grace, skill, and competitive spirit that epitomize Russian figure skating.

#6 Wrestling

Wrestling
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Wrestler from Russia: Alexander Karelin (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Wrestlers in Russia: 150,000

Wrestling is a centuries-old sport in Russia, both culturally significant and a source of national pride. Russian wrestlers have a storied history of success in international competitions, often dominating World Championships and the Olympics.

The sport features various disciplines, including Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Alexander Karelin, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, exemplifies Russia’s dominance in the world of wrestling, often regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

Wrestling clubs and training facilities are widespread across Russia, fostering discipline, strength, and sportsmanship in young athletes and maintaining wrestling’s prominence in Russian sports culture.

#7 Gymnastics

Gymnastics
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Late 1800s
  • 🌟Most Famous Gymnast from Russia: Svetlana Khorkina (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Gymnasts in Russia: 300,000

Gymnastics in Russia is synonymous with elegance, strength, and precision. The country has a long-standing tradition of producing exceptional gymnasts who have gone on to achieve greatness in international competitions, including the Olympics and World Championships.

Russian gymnastics showcases various disciplines, ranging from artistic to rhythmic. The legendary gymnast Svetlana Khorkina is renowned for her multiple Olympic and World Championship titles, embodying the Russian spirit of excellence.

Numerous gymnastics schools and training centers nurture future talents, solidifying gymnastics’ status as a cherished sport and a crucial part of Russia’s sporting identity.

#8 Skiing

Alpine Skiing
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Popularity Surge in Russia: 1930s
  • 🌟Most Famous Skier from Russia: Alexander Bolshunov (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Skiing Enthusiasts in Russia: 1.5 Million

Skiing is a popular winter sport in Russia, owing to its vast snowy landscapes and rugged terrain. Both recreational skiers and professional athletes take to the slopes, creating a lively and passionate skiing community.

Cross-country skiing is particularly popular in Russia, with participants competing in national and international events. Young talent Alexander Bolshunov has already made his mark in the sport, clinching multiple World Championship titles.

Ski resorts, such as those in the Caucasus Mountains, serve as hubs for skiing enthusiasts during the winter months. Russia’s passion for skiing encompasses both leisure and competition, proving its enduring place in the nation’s sporting culture.

#9 Biathlon

Biathlon
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: 1950s
  • 🌟Most Famous Athlete from Russia: Ole Einar BjΓΈrndalen (Norwegian, popular in Russia)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Biathlon Enthusiasts in Russia: 500,000

Biathlon holds a special place in the hearts of Russians, combining the skills of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The sport enjoys a significant following and is closely associated with Russia’s winter sports culture.

The Russian championships and the Biathlon World Cup are among the most popular competitions that Russians follow and participate in. Legendary Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar BjΓΈrndalen is particularly admired by Russian biathlon enthusiasts for his numerous accomplishments.

Biathlon successes on the international stage, such as World Championship and Olympic medals, showcase Russia’s prowess in this unique and demanding sport, further strengthening its popularity.

#10 Tennis

Tennis
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: Late 1800s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Maria Sharapova (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 1 Million

Tennis has grown in prominence in Russia throughout the years and has evolved into a popular sport among the masses. The country has produced several world-class tennis players who have made considerable impacts on the international tennis scene.

The St. Petersburg Open and Kremlin Cup are notable tennis tournaments held in Russia, drawing local and international players alike. Maria Sharapova, a former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion, is perhaps the most well-known Russian tennis player, garnering fans worldwide with her on-court prowess.

Tennis clubs and training facilities across Russia ensure that the sport continues to thrive, attracting enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.

#11 Handball

Handball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Russia: 1930s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Russia: Dmitry Zhitnikov (Russian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Russia: 150,000

Handball is a popular and fast-paced sport in Russia, resonating with fans and players who appreciate its energy and strategic gameplay. Russian handball teams have achieved considerable success on the international stage, earning respect and admiration from global handball enthusiasts.

The Russian Handball Super League serves as the top tier of professional handball in the country, featuring intense competition and passionate fans. Dmitry Zhitnikov, an accomplished national team player, has elevated Russia’s handball reputation with his skills and leadership.

With a robust domestic league and strong international presence, handball continues to grow and maintain its position as a beloved sport in Russia.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in Russia?

Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport in Russia, deeply rooted in the nation’s culture, boasting a broad following, with fans passionately supporting both domestic and national teams.

What is the national sport of Russia?

While Russia does not have an official national sport, soccer and ice hockey are both widely regarded as key components of the country’s cultural and sporting landscape, enjoying widespread support and popularity.

What are the most watched sports in Russia?

The most watched sports in Russia include soccer (football), ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, figure skating, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, biathlon, tennis, and handball, each attracting sizable viewership 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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