Football is the king sport in Europe. Even their present form and rules found their origin on the continent, in the United Kingdom, during the 1860s. The sport then spread to continental Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, and even Denmark, mainly thanks to universities. Since the 1930s, with the organization of the first World Cup, football has become a very popular and global sport.
Today, the sport continues to gain importance, both economically and socially. With the help of transfer liberalization or the massive increase in television rights, football has now reached significant financial weight. So much so, that some world-famous clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United are estimated to be worth more than 3 billion euros.
But football’s continued success is also due to the fact that it is not the preserve of the elite or just an audiovisual scene. In fact, it is also, by far, the most popular sport by Europeans. For example, 1.2 million Dutch and 4.3 million Italians are enrolled in a club to play football, or 7% of the total population of these two countries. Football is, with rare exceptions, the most important sport in the 27 member states of the European Union.
The next edition of the Euro has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to take place in 2021 and will be held for the first time across the continent in 13 different cities.
Tennis, the main individual sport
Individual sports, such as athletics or swimming, are often practiced by Europeans, which are easily accessible and may be cheap or even free.
Tennis is often played on the continent and has a strong media show. Two of the most famous (Grand Slam) tournaments are held in Europe: the Roland Garros Championship in Paris and Wimbledon in London.
Golf is often portrayed as a “noble” sport or at least reserved for the upper classes, and even more so than tennis, golf is also played by many Europeans. This is clearly the case in the United Kingdom, where the Scottish Greens are among the oldest and most well-known in the world. But this is also the case in Germany, Sweden and Spain.
Depending on nationality, Europeans are passionate about themselves and also take part in “road” sports. The most popular by far is cycling, and it is enjoyed across the continent. France, Italy, and Spain host the three main tours, but if the number of riders from these countries is multiple, there are also large numbers of Belgians, Dutch, Danes, Britons, and even Luxemburgers. On a private basis, 31% of Belgians said they ride their bikes regularly.
In addition, motorsport, which is rarely practiced by individuals for financial and technical reasons, is also very popular in many European countries. This is particularly the case in Italy and Germany, but also in Belgium and Finland in relation to Formula 1 racing. Rally racing has recently gained popularity in a country like France.
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