7 countries where football isn’t the most popular sport

 
 
The Australian Flag is seen during game four of the One Day International series between Australia and South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.

Football is by far and away the most popular sport on the planet - just look at our map for example, the green is football in case you hadn’t gathered.

Crucially though, not the entirety of the map is green, and today we’re taking a look at some countries where football, or soccer, doesn't reign supreme.

Here are 7 countries where football isn’t the most popular sport:

7. Australia

Believed to be one of the most active populations on Earth, from both in school to in their adult life, Australians play an awful lot of sport. Aussie Rules Football, cricket and rugby league enjoy enormous popularity, as does rugby union, tennis, and on the playing side of things at least, golf. There is certainly a lot of love for football in Australia, and the A-League continues to grow, but the tremendous enthusiasm for AFL and cricket mean it doesn’t take top spot. The upcoming World Cup finals in Russia will be Australia’s fifth World Cup, and they have produced the likes of Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell, which isn’t bad for a nation where soccer doesn’t rule the roost.

6. Canada

Tommy Wingels #57 of the Boston Bruins battles against Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup Play-offs at the...Tommy Wingels #57 of the Boston Bruins battles against Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup Play-offs at the...

If you were trying to guess countries where football isn’t number one, you could do a lot worse than just naming cold countries where it snows a lot. Canada ticks those two boxes, and indeed football is not the nation’s number one sport. That goes to ice hockey, which enjoys huge support, with seven Canadian teams competing in the NHL, including Montreal Canadiens, who are the most successful franchise in the league. Football is continuing to grow in Canada, being played in large numbers, especially among young people, and Toronto FC had the third highest average attendance in the MLS last season. Canada have only ever qualified for the World Cup once, back in 1986. The likes of Jonathan de Guzman and Owen Hargreaves were born in Canada, but the best player to represent the country is probably Dwayne de Rosario.

5. USA

There is great debate over which sport is the most popular across the pond in the United States, but one thing is for sure, it’s not soccer. Historically it has been baseball, but American football is now the most watched sport in the States, whilst bowling is the most played. Basketball and ice hockey also enjoy widespread popularity, and together with those four, soccer makes up the United States five major league sports. As with the others, soccer is only growing in America, and the fact that the heart-bed of its support lies in youngsters can only bode well for the future of the game there. The 2018 World Cup will be the first that the USMNT has missed since 1986.

4. Lithuania

LaMelo Ball of Vytautas Prienai prior to the match between Vytautas Prienai and Zalgiris Kauno on January 9, 2018 in Prienai, Lithuania.LaMelo Ball of Vytautas Prienai prior to the match between Vytautas Prienai and Zalgiris Kauno on January 9, 2018 in Prienai, Lithuania.

Very unusually for a European country, football is not the most popular sport in Lithuania. That's basketball, which is both the sport Lithuanians love most, and the one in which they have enjoyed the most success. Lithuania ranks fourth in the world when it comes to basketball, whilst their national football team is ranked 133rd. Basketball has been described as Lithuanians second great passion, behind Catholicism, whilst football battles it out with athletics and cycling for second place. Lithuania have never qualified for the World Cup, and don’t look like doing so anytime soon, unless FIFA eventually expand the tournament to 175 teams of course.

3. India

Football, or soccer, is arguably now the second most popular sport in India, and a large number of Indians are enormously passionate about it. It’s difficult to see cricket ever being overtaken as India’s number one though, given the tremendous fan base the sport enjoys in the second most populated country on Earth. The Indian Premier League is the world’s premier T20 cricket league, and it averages attendances higher than Serie A. Although football in India enjoys much support, the quality of the domestic leagues and national team still have a great deal of room to improve.

2. Finland

Sami Lepisto #18 of Finland controls the puck against Chris Lee #4 and Kevin Poulin #31 of Canada in the third period during the Men's Play-offs Quarterfinals on day twelve of the...Sami Lepisto #18 of Finland controls the puck against Chris Lee #4 and Kevin Poulin #31 of Canada in the third period during the Men's Play-offs Quarterfinals on day twelve of the...

The second European nation in this seven. The 25th most populated country in Europe, ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland, with Formula One being the second most watched in terms of TV audiences, and harness racing second when it comes to spectator attendances. Finland’s relative ambivalence to football has been reflected in their success, never having qualified for the World Cup - whilst their near neighbours Sweden have reached three semi-finals and one final. Finland’s greatest footballers include Jari Litmanen, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Sami Hyypiä.

1. Venezuela

If we bring back that map of the world, you’ll notice a rather large yellow anomaly at the top of South America. Few regions, if any, are as football mad as the South Americans. The likes of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have enjoyed enormous success on the international stage, whilst even less decorated nations like Colombia and Chile are similarly enthusiastic. Venezuela are very much the black sheep of the South American family then, where football plays second fiddle, or possibly third fiddle - if that’s a thing - to baseball and basketball. Baseball is the nation’s favourite sport, having enjoyed huge popularity since the country won the World Amateur Baseball tournament back in 1941. Venezuela rank 39th in FIFA’s world rankings, but they’ve never qualified for a World Cup.

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