Sport in Europe

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Spectator sports are popular in much of the EU. (Camp Nou, Barcelona)

Sport in Europe tends to be highly organized with many sports having professional leagues.

The origins of many of the world's most popular sports today lie in the codification of many traditional games, especially in Great Britain.

Team sports[edit]

Association Football (also known as Soccer) is the most popular sport in almost all European Countries. European club teams are the highest paid in the world, and the UEFA Champions League (the European clubs championship) is one of the sport's most prestigious tournaments. European national teams compete in the UEFA European Football Championship. The most popular and successful football leagues are the Spanish La Liga, the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the French Ligue 1, and the German Bundesliga.

Rugby union is popular in southern France, parts of Great Britain, Ireland and northern Italy, with rugby league (Super League) enjoying popularity in Great Britain, France and Russia and although the game is played in Germany, Italy, Greece and Malta it is not at a professional level.

Cricket is a popular summer sport in the United Kingdom and has been exported to other parts of the former British Empire. Cricket has its origins in south east Britain. It is popular throughout England and Wales, and parts of the Netherlands. It is also popular in other areas and also played in northwest Europe. It is however very popular worldwide, especially in southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Indian subcontinent.

Ice hockey is very popular at a professional and amateur level in Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern central Europe where it rivals association football in popularity. It is also popular at a professional level in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, most of Western Europe and parts of former USSR and Yugoslavia.

Other team sports like basketball, handball, volleyball, water polo, roller hockey, and field hockey are also popular in some European countries.

Cricket is very popular in Great Britain and attracts huge crowds.
The 2004 Tour rides the Champs Élysées

Individual sports[edit]

Individual sports are also very important. In fact Europe was the birthplace of the Olympic Movement that has become so central to modern individual sport, with Greece being the first country to hold the Olympics in 1896. In 1972 the Olympics was held in Munich, West Germany, which was a member of the European Communities, a forerunner of the EU. The XXV Olympiad took place in Barcelona, Spain in 1992, after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty on the formation of the EU on 7 February 1992, but before the treaty came into force on 1 November 1993. The first Olympics to take place in the EU was the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens, Greece in 2004, where EU sportspeople won 81 gold medals, 101 silvers and 113 bronzes, a total of 295. The next were the 2012 Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in the United Kingdom. The Winter Olympic Games have also been held in the EU: in 1992 the XVI Olympic Winter Games was in Albertville, France; and in 2006 the XX Olympic Winter Games was in Turin, Italy. Europe has hosted a total of 30 Olympic Games (16 Summer and 14 Winter), more than any other region in the world.

The most prestigious and lucrative athletics and aquatics meets are in Europe, as are several major golf tournaments. Europe also competes as a single team in the Ryder Cup. Tennis is popular in most of Europe and 2 of the 4 major Grand Slam events are held here, in France and the UK. The most prestigious sporting event related to athletics is the European Athletics Championships, wherein Mo Farah is the most successful individual athlete.[1]

For those areas with the proper climate, winter sports are also an important. In Scandinavian and Alpine countries, various forms of skiing and snowboarding are popular. European competitors have traditionally dominated at the Winter Olympics.

Other regions have games that are particular to their home, for example Gaelic games in Ireland, shinty in Scotland, bandy in Russia and Scandinavia, or bullfighting in Spain.

Motorsports are popular across nearly all of Europe. Formula One is traditionally dominated by European drivers and teams and many grand prix are held in Europe. Motorcycle speedway is also popular in Poland, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

Motorcycle racing is a hugely popular sport in Europe as European riders are generally accepted as being the best in the world. Valentino Rossi (from Italy) is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name – seven of which are in the premier class.

Some sport competitions features a European team gathering athletes from different European countries. These teams uses the European flag as an emblem. The most famous of these competitions is the Ryder Cup in golf.

Club over franchise[edit]

Unlike major team sports in North America, where franchises are awarded to nominated cities, most European teams have grown from small clubs formed by groups of individuals before growing rapidly. Churches and work places have often been the most fertile birthplace of many of Europe's major sports clubs, particularly in Britain, which in latter part of the nineteenth century led the way in organised sports[citation needed].

Clubs therefore had an equal chance to grow to become among the strongest in their particular sport which has led to a situation where many cities are represented by two or even three top class teams in the same sport. In the 2011–12 football season, London has five teams playing in the Premier League, while Liverpool and Manchester also have double representation.

See also[edit]