This map shows the relative internet search interest of the two most popular team sports in each country, in proportion to each other. The most popular sport by far is soccer (represented by the neutral color black). In fact soccer has some share of interest in every country, unlike all other sports. It is truly a global game. Basketball, Ice Hockey, Cricket, Volleyball, Rugby, and Handball are also popular in many countries as well.
Maps by Sport
After soccer, basketball has the most interest spread across the world, with fans on every continent. Despite that, there are few countries where basketball is the number one sport. Lithuania, Philippines, and China are the only countries that have over 50% of their interest in basketball.
Ice hockey is popular in cold, northern countries. Several countries have more interest in ice hockey than soccer, including Slovakia, Latvia, Finland, and Canada. One surprise is that United States has such low share of interest in ice hockey, despite having the NHL. This is likely due to the fact that interest in other sports like football and basketball dwarf ice hockey’s numbers in the US.
Baseball is regional. The majority of its fans are in North America, Japan, and Korea. It is only the most searched for sport in Japan and the Dominican Republic. There is almost no interest in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East.
Cricket is wildly popular on the Indian subcontinent, but there is also some interest in cricket on every continent. Although Cricket is played in only a few countries, in many of them it dominates even soccer. One surprise was its popularity in the Middle East. One explanation is that there are many Indian expats in these countries.
Volleyball’s interest is quite dispersed across the globe, with the least amount of interest in Africa. It is not the dominate sport in any country. Iran, Poland, and the Philippines are the countries with the highest percentage of volleyball interest, with each having around 25%.
Rugby is most popular in the Southern Hemisphere, but there are also a few European countries that are interested in it too. The only country that has more than 50% of their interest in rugby is Fiji, although it has a plurality of interest in New Zealand as well.
Handball is only popular in European countries. Denmark, where the sport originated from, has the highest share of interest in handball, with roughly one-third. Other Scandinavian countries and the Balkans also have some interest in the sport.
I’m not so sure about the entire premise here, that internet searches translates into popularity. First, you have millions of older people who either don’t use the internet or at least don’t bother looking up sports there. Then there’s all the poor people who can’t afford even a smart phone. And there’s the basic question of whether some sports inspire more online activity than others of equal popularity. Nobody knows the answer to these questions, and more. I’d stick to titles that you can back up with all your data, something like “Most popular sports on the internet”.
In Australia, the most popular sports are Australian Rules Football (or “footy”) and rugby. In Canada, they are ice hockey and Canadian Football (which is very similar to American Football)