Whether it’s a team’s chase for glory, a hard-fought battle on a pitch, a court or in an arena somewhere, or a memorable moment of sportsperson-like conduct, sport captures the hearts of many in Europe. Nations can get behind a player, athlete or team representing the country and feel proud. Just like in many other parts of the world, certain sports attract a plethora of European fans who can’t get enough of the action. This post compares the popularity of different sports in Europe and also looks at sports betting in Europe, with a particular focus on the UK and Ireland.
The love of sport in Europe
Different countries in Europe can have different tastes, which can make some sports more popular in some countries than in others. For instance, in English-speaking countries such as Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland rugby is more popular than in a lot of European countries. Only France demonstrates any real major interest in the sport. England also loves cricket.
Basketball is big in Europe, especially Eastern Europe and parts of the Mediterranean region. Eastern Europe also shows a strong interest in ice hockey, whereas parts of Scandinavia and some other parts of mainland Europe display a preference for handball. Continuing with hand-and-ball sports, volleyball is one of the sports of choice in Bulgaria, Poland and the Netherlands.
Of course, football receives the most interest in Europe. In fact, one country, Portugal, loves football so much that not only is regular football popular, but also futsal, which is the second biggest sport there.
When it comes to practising sports, European countries have a love of running, cycling, hiking and swimming in common, according to research on the website of consumer and market data company Statista. These recur a lot among the most popular sports in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. In terms of more specialist sports, gymnastics, football and golf achieve a great deal of popularity.
Sports betting in Europe
When it comes to betting in Europe, different countries have different laws, but overall, European Union (EU) Member Countries are free to organise gambling services as they see fit, as long as this complies with certain legislation. One country that enjoys sports betting, especially on football, is Italy. Statista reports on its website that 74% of sports betting in Italy is on football.
Another nation that has a reputation for its love of sports betting, possibly because of the liberal gambling laws, is the UK and Ireland. In 2021, the market totalled around $5.4 billion. The UK has a special passion for betting on football and horse racing. For instance, Statista reports on its website that the annual gross gambling yield in the UK between April 2021 and March 2022 amounted to approximately £12 million for on-course horse race betting. The off-course figure for the same period was £382.55 million.
Football betting in the UK also generates big money. The preliminary gross gambling yield for the April 2021 to March 2022 was £324.47 million in the off-course soccer betting space. The preliminary off-course turnover for the same period and same space was approximately £1.34 billion.
It’s the wide variety of teams and highly competitive nature of football that makes it so attractive for bettors to lay their money down on. Technology is another factor. Sportsbooks can set more competitive odds and have, in many cases, made it more possible for punters to live stream events to their devices so they can follow the action. Majority of online sportsbooks now have apps so that punters can access the latest odds and bets on their mobile devices easier.
Meanwhile, in the case of horse racing, there’s a rush that comes with betting on a race. It’s also possible to manage risk by studying stats and other information, and if you get it all right, you can win big, depending on how much money you’ve placed on a winning horse. Of course, the wide variety of betting options also makes horse racing attractive for a flutter.
The UK isn’t the only country that enjoys betting on these sports. Nor is Italy alone in its love of betting on football. According to data on the Statista website, a look at the global amount bet on European soccer in the 2019/20 season revealed that the Premier League received the most bets. Bets on matches reached more than 68 billion euros worldwide, whereas bets worldwide on the Spanish La Liga came to approximately 41 billion euros.
Europe loves sport, and it also loves betting on sport. If you’ve not followed one or more of the sports above, you might wish to do so and see why different countries enjoy them so much. After a while, you might even fancy betting on them. Why not give it a try?