clock menu more-arrow no yes

MAP: The most popular sport in every country (soccer is really popular)

About 3.2 billion people watched at least a minute of the World Cup in 2010, and preliminary numbers from this year all say the 2014 Cup's numbers are going to be way higher. That means about half, if not more, of the world's population will have watched this year's cup.

But, after taking a look at this map of the most popular sports around the world, that shouldn't surprise us all that much. Soccer dominates the global sports scene, in a way that's almost impossible to appreciate in the abstract.

Here's the map of the most popular sport in each country — notice how much green, representing places where soccer dominates, there is:


The data comes from a 2006 National Geographic graphic called "Soccer United the World." Earl Andrew/THUGCHilDz

Sure, there's a few other interesting tidbits in here. The English speaking world loves the ball-carrying sports like American football, rugby, and Gaelic football. Cold places like hockey. And the Indian subcontinent is really into cricket.

But soccer supremacy is the big story. In virtually all of Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East, soccer is king. Ditto most of Asia and Central America. If it weren't for people's weird tastes in China and some former British colonies, soccer would basically be a universal sport. As of right now, it's pretty damn close.

Understanding is critical

Help us explain the decisions that shape our lives. Give today to keep Vox free.