Football is the king’s game in Europe. Its current form and rules trace their origins to the continent, in the United Kingdom, during the 1860s. The game then spread to continental Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands and even Denmark, mainly thanks to universities. From the 1930s, with the organization of the first World Cup, football became an international and extremely popular sport.
Today, economically and socially, the sport continues to be significant. Helped by the liberalization of transfers or the rapid increase in television rights, football has now reached considerable financial weight. So much so that some of the world’s famous clubs such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona or Manchester United have been valued at over 3 billion euros.
But the continued success of football is also due to the fact that it is not the preserve of an elite or merely audiovisual scene. In fact, it is also, by far, the most practiced by Europeans. For example, 1.2 million Dutch and 4.3 million Italians are registered to play football in a club, or 7% of the total population of these two countries. With rare exceptions, football is the most important sport in the 27 member states of the European Union.
Postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the next version of the euro should be in 2021 and will be held for the first time in 13 different cities across the continent.
Tennis, the main individual sport
Different sports are also often practiced by Europeans, such as athletics or swimming, which are easy to use and potentially cheap or even free.
Tennis is also often played on the continent and has a strong media performance. The two most prestigious tournaments (Grand Slams) take place in Europe: Roland Garros in Paris and Wimbledon in London.
Often depicted as a “great” sport or at least reserved for the upper classes, even more so than tennis, golf is also played by many Europeans. It is clearly in the United Kingdom, the Scottish greens one of the oldest and most famous in the world. But Germany, Sweden and Spain have the same situation.
Depending on nationality, Europeans are passionate about themselves and also practice “road” sports. By far the most popular is cycling, enjoyed throughout the continent. France, Italy and Spain host three main tours, but if the riders from these countries are numerous, there are a large number of Belgian, Dutch, Danes, British, and even Luxembourg. On a private basis, 31% of Belgian people say they practice cycling regularly.
In addition, motor sports, which are rarely practiced by individuals for financial and technical reasons, are also very popular in many European countries. This is particularly the case with Italy and Germany, but also in Belgium and Finland in relation to Formula 1.. Recently the popularity of the rally has increased in a country like France.