Sport in Romania

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Sports in Romania are an important part of the country's culture. Romania has risen to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. Association football is the most popular sport in Romania, a nation of 20 million. The most successful club is Steaua Bucharest, who were the first Eastern European side to win the European Cup and the European Supercup in 1986. Other important Romanian football clubs are Dinamo, Universitatea Craiova, Rapid and CFR Cluj, each of whom had mixed European success. Romania is one of only four national teams from Europe that took part in the first World Cup in 1930. The Romania national football team has taken part in seven FIFA World Cups and had its most successful run during the 1990s, when they reached the quarterfinals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, losing a semifinal place against Sweden on the penalty kicks, Romania was ranked third by FIFA in 1997.[1]

Other popular sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, rugby union, tennis, and gymnastics.[2] Many Romanian athletes have achieved significant success and have won World and European medals in numerous sports during the years. Romania participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1900 and has taken part in 21 of the 28 summer games. It has been one of the more successful countries at the Summer Olympic Games, with a total of 307 medals won throughout the years, of which 89 gold ones, ranking 15th overall. Almost a quarter of all the medals and 25 of the gold ones were won in gymnastics. Romanian athletes have also won gold medals in other Olympic sports, such as rowing, athletics, canoeing, wrestling, shooting, fencing, swimming, discus throw, weightlifting, boxing, and judo. They are the most successful nation in Balkan Championships in terms of medal-winning.[3]

Team sports[edit]


Football is by far the most popular sport in the country. The most internationally known Romanian player is Gheorghe Hagi, who played for Steaua Bucureşti (Romania), Real Madrid, FC Barcelona (Spain), and Galatasaray (Turkey), among others. Other famous Romanian players include: Nicolae Dobrin, Ilie Balaci, Dudu Georgescu, Florea Dumitrache, Ion Oblemenco, Dan Coe, Cornel Dinu, Marcel Răducanu, Mircea Lucescu, Necula Răducanu, Anghel Iordănescu, Costică Ştefănescu, Rodion Cămătaru, Ladislau Boloni, Silviu Lung, Mircea Rednic, Gheorghe Popescu, Dan Petrescu, Constantin Gâlcă, Miodrag Belodedici, Dorinel Munteanu, Bogdan Stelea, Ioan Lupescu, Helmuth Duckadam, Marius Lăcătuş, Ilie Dumitrescu, Viorel Moldovan, Florin Răducioiu, Adrian Ilie, Bogdan Lobonț, Cosmin Contra, Cristian Chivu, Adrian Mutu, Răzvan Raț and Dorin Goian.

In 1986, the Romanian football club Steaua Bucureşti became the first Eastern European club ever to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title. They reached the final again in 1989, but lost to AC Milan. Other important Romanian football clubs are Dinamo Bucureşti, Universitatea Craiova, Rapid Bucureşti, FC Argeş Piteşti, FC Petrolul Ploieşti, UTA Arad and FC Timişoara. The Romanian national football team has taken part seven times in the FIFA World Cup, and it had a very successful period through the 1990s, reaching the quarter-finals in the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, when the "Golden Generation" was at its best.

The National Arena Stadium in Bucharest hosted the 2012 UEFA Europa League Final.


The Romania men's national volleyball team is the national team of Romania. It is governed by Federaţia Română de Volei and takes part in international volleyball competitions. Both the men's and women's teams have won several medals at international competitions over the years. Its most recent notable results include the Final 4 of the 2010 Men's European Volleyball League. The performance was also repeated in the next year.

At club level Dinamo București, Rapid and CSM București have won several European titles.

The city of Bucharest hosted the Final Four of the 2017–18 CEV Women's Champions League.


Gheorghe Mureșan pictured in 2010.

Handball is the second most popular sport in Romania, after football. The Romania national handball team has won the Handball IHF World Cup a record four times (1961, 1964, 1970, and 1974). The only other team to have matched this record is Sweden in 1999 and France in 2011. The Romania women's national handball team has won the Handball World Cup in 1962. Steaua, Dinamo and CSM București have also won several European titles over the years.

Romania has produced many great handball players, including Gheorghe Gruia, Alexandru Dedu, Vasile Stângă, Petre Ivănescu, Cornel Penu, Alexandru Buligan, Marian Dumitru and Cristian Gaţu.

On the women's side, the top Romanians include: three times IHF World Player of the Year winner Cristina Neagu, Luminița Dinu, Mariana Tîrcă, Aurelia Brădeanu, Valentina Elisei and Cristina Vărzaru.


Basketball is a very popular sport among Romanian youth. Gheorghe Mureșan was the first Romanian to enter NBA, and he became known as the tallest man ever to play in that league. Other products of the Romanian basketball school are Constantin Popa, Virgil Stănescu and Toni Alexe. The most important basketball team in Romania is CSU Asesoft. CSU Asesoft won the Eurocup in 2005 and consecutive the National Basketball Championship since 2000.

In 2016, Romania was chosen as a host for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket.

Rugby union[edit]

Romania playing Ireland at Landsdowne Road in 2005.

Rugby union is a popular team sport played in Romania, with a tradition of more than 100 years. The Romania national rugby union team has so far competed at every Rugby World Cup.

Bucureşti Rugby is the team that represents Romania in the European Challenge Cup.

Individual sports[edit]


Romania holds a long tradition in artistic gymnastics, especially in the ladies competition. Gymnastics is responsible for the majority of Romania's Olympic medals, gold, silver, and bronze. The most famous Romanian gymnast is Nadia Comăneci, who was the first gymnast to ever score a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games, during the 1976 Summer Olympics. She also won three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze, all at the age of fourteen.[4] Her success continued in the 1980 Summer Olympics, where she was awarded two gold medals and two silver medals. At the 1976 Olympic Games, Teodora Ungureanu did very well too, but did not receive as much fame as Nadia. Other famous gymnasts include: Daniela Silivaş, Ecaterina Szabo, Lavinia Miloşovici, Gina Gogean, Simona Amânar, Andreea Răducan, Maria Olaru, Cătălina Ponor and Sandra Izbaşa.

Top Romanian men's gymnasts include: Marius Urzică and Marian Drăgulescu.


Simona Halep is among the top-ranked female tennis players in the world.

Ilie Năstase, a famous Romanian tennis player, is another internationally known Romanian sports star. He won several Grand Slam titles and dozens of other tournaments and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP from 1973 to 1974; he also was a successful doubles player. Romania has also reached the Davis Cup finals three times. Virginia Ruzici was a successful tennis player in the 1970s.

Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). The most famous Romanian tennis player of all time is Ilie Năstase, presented by the Tennis Hall of Fame presents as "the most talented player ever to hold the racquet". He was the only Romanian player to ever achieve the number 1 ranking. Other famous men's tennis players include Ion Ţiriac and Andrei Pavel. In ladies tennis, Virginia Ruzici, Irina Spîrlea, and Ruxandra Dragomir are among the top Romanian players of all time. As for active players, the top Romanians on the men's side are doubles players Horia Tecău and Florin Mergea, who also brought Romania's first olympic medal in tennis, a silver in 2016.[5] On the women's side, the top Romanians include Simona Halep, Sorana Cîrstea, Raluca Olaru, Alexandra Dulgheru, and Monica Niculescu. There are also many junior stars like Ana Bogdan and Elena Bogdan.


Oină is a traditional Romanian sport with similarities to baseball.


Boxing is popular in Romania, especially in the TV broadcastings. Famous boxers include: Nicolae Linca, Francisc Vaştag, Mihai Leu, Lucian Bute, Leonard Doroftei, and Adrian Diaconu.

Rowing and canoeing[edit]

Romanian oarspeople have brought numerous successes, including 35 Olympic medals (18 gold) for rowing and 34 medals (10 gold) for canoeing. Romania is a leading rowing nation. Often boasting many wins each year in the Junior World Rowing Championships. In the under-23's age level, Romania often field a strong team. Often medalling in the women's events.

The Romanian Senior Women's rowing team is particularly strong. They have been the poster child team as regards women's rowing. They consistently perform in the coxed women's eight. In the Olympics, they won the women's coxless pair. This was one of the sixth Olympic gold medal for Elisabeta Lipă. Now she is the most decorated female rower in history.


Chess is fairly popular among some groups, especially retired people and mathematicians. The highest FIDE rating Romanian player is the grandmaster Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu.


Romania's silver medal in team sabre at the 2013 World Fencing Championships in Budapest

Fencing as a sport was introduced in Romania in the 19th century by French masters. The first national fencing competition was held in 1921 and the Romanian Fencing Federation was created in 1931. The first Romanian fencer to reach the podium in a major international competition was Maria Vicol, who earned a silver medal at the 1956 Junior World Championships in Luxembourg.

Since then, fencing has brought Romania eight Olympic team medals and seven Olympic individual medals, including three golds: Ion Drîmbă (foil) at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Laura Badea (foil) at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and Mihai Covaliu (sabre) at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Romanian fencers also earned 13 gold medals in World Fencing Championships and 13 gold medals in European Fencing Championships. Six Romanians feature in the Hall of Fame of the International Fencing Federation: Laura Badea, Mihai Covaliu, Ana Pascu, Petru Kuki, Ioan Pop and Reka Szabo. Three Romanian athletes are currently amongst the ten top-ranked fencers: Ana Maria Brânză and Simona Gherman in women's épée and Tiberiu Dolniceanu in men's sabre.



Gabriela Szabo, Olympic and World long-distance running champion and the 1999 European and World Athlete of the Year.[6]

Maybe slightly surprising for a country of its size, Romania has been one of the most successful countries in the history of the Summer Olympic Games (15th overall) with a total of 307 medals won throughout the years, 89 of which are gold medals.[7] Romania has appeared in 21 of the 28 Summer Olympic Games. The nation debuted at the 1900 Summer Olympics, appeared again three times between the World Wars, and has competed at every event since the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Largest federations in Romania[edit]

These figures are from 2004 and refer to registered sportsmen for a total of 214,000 sportsmen and 5,862 clubs.[8]

Sport Sportsmen Clubs
Football 111,503 3016
Tennis 15,933 135
Rugby union 5,477 56
Basketball 5,247 114
Handball 4,993 146
Martial Arts 4,993 148
Athletics 4,886 191
Wrestling 4,298 132
Karate 4,201 54
Sport Dance 3,452 91
Chess 3,177 151
Judo 3,067 120


The highest football division has attracted about 1.65 million spectators in 2006 and 2007, with an average attendance of 5,417 per game.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Men's Ranking". Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "What's the most popular sport in Romania?". Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Romania ranks 1st at Balkan Athletics Championships". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Gymnast Posts Perfect Mark" Robin Herman, New York Times, March 28, 1976
  5. ^ "Rio 2016 - Tennis: Mergea and Tecau win silver in men's doubles tournament – AGERPRES",, 13 August 2016, retrieved 2016-10-14 
  6. ^ Elizabeth Sleeman. "The International Who's Who of Women 2002". Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "All-Time Summer Medal Standings, 1896-2012". InfoPlease. Retrieved 24 April 2018. 
  8. ^ Europa Yearbook 2007, Volume 2, Romania.
  9. ^ "EFS Attendances". European Football Statistics. Retrieved 2007-04-21.