Sport is one of the most popular activities all around the world, and Russia is no exception. According to the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation report, 54 million people do at least one kind of sports activity. There are a handful of different sports Russians love to play and watch, but which one is the favorite? We have prepared the list of seven most popular, most-watched and most-played sports in Russia.
1. Football – the first and foremost
Even though they might not be the best, Russians love their football team. Although Russian football clubs aren’t as successful as hockey clubs, football attracts far more fans. Savva Morozov, a famous Russian industrialist, invited the first football players to Russia before the October Revolution. At that point in time, the publicity considered football as “an extremely violent sport”. However, it soon became the red-hot favorite.
Since the first USSR Football championship in 1923, the Russian fan community has been supporting their favorite teams during all major football events. Recently, the Russian football team qualified for the final tournament of UEFA Euro 2020. The Russian team has +10000 odds to win Euro 2020 at Bovada Sportsbook this summer.
2. Ice hockey – underestimated runner-up
Hockey is considered as one of the traditional Russian sports, alongside chess and ice skating. The most obvious reason for this is the cold climate – the weather conditions favor winter sports. Russian athletes have always shown great results in hockey, taking leading positions in the world rankings. For instance, the Russian team won the 2008 IIHF World Championship, where they defeated the Canadian team in overtime.
Despite the cold setting, the game itself is pretty intense and entertaining. Hockey is a very dangerous sport, and players often break their bones and lose their teeth during the game. However, there still is a huge number of people who want to play professional hockey. Currently, Russian teams from the Supreme Hockey League get +145 and +150 odds at Bovada Sportsbook to win VHL Tournaments.
3. Volleyball – the third most popular sports in Russia
There are a few reasons why volleyball is popular in Russia. Despite volleyball being a contactless sport, the game is really spectacular and engaging. And obviously volleyball is far less dangerous than ice hockey or soccer. Russia men’s national volleyball team has been at the forefront of the international sports scene since 1948. To date, the team won 6 World Cups, 6 World Championships, and 12 European Championships.
4. Basketball – the recession-proof sport
During the post-Soviet Era, Russia used to have a world-class basketball team coached by Sergei Belov. However, in the early 2000s, the sport started to fall into a deep crisis. The decline lasted for 16 years and finally, the Russian basketball team returned to big sports pitch in 2016. Although the team has been disappointing fans for more than a decade, basketball didn’t lose its popularity in Russia. It’s still a top market at online sportsbooks in the USA. Currently, it is the fourth most popular sport in Russia, according to the Ministry of Sports’ survey.
5. Tennis – the most popular women’s sport
Unlike other sports on this list, tennis started to gain popularity after the end of the Soviet Era. In a relatively short period of time, Russian tennis players managed to achieve great success worldwide. Currently, 10 Russian athletes are in the top-50 of the WTA.
Russian women tennis players are especially successful in the global scene. The most popular top-class players are Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina. Both of them were ranked number one in the Women’s Tennis rankings. Moreover, in the 2008 Olympic Games, all of the three main prizes were taken by Russian tennis players.
Tennis players from Russia get high odds at Bovada Sportsbook for the 2020 ATP Tour.
6. Figure Skating – complex & fascinating
Russian athletes have always shown great results in winter sports, and figure skating is no exception. While in other regions winter sports are limited to winter months, the Russian climate allows athletes to train from November to April. Figure Skating’s popularity roots from the beauty and complexity of the sport – viewers all around Russia are rooting for their favorite athletes during all major championships.
The Soviet and Russian school of figure skating raised lots of successful athletes. Furthermore, Russian athletes took all gold medals in pair skating in the period between 1964 and 2006. Recently, Evgenia Medvedeva, the rising star of figure skating, won two silver medals in the 2018 Olympics. Russia gets +700 odds at Bovada Sportsbook to win the most gold medals during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
7. Chess – the ultimate intellectual sport
Chess is rounding up the list of the most popular sports in Russia. The game hasn’t officially become a part of the Olympics, but it can be said without a doubt that it is the ultimate intellectual sport. Such notable Soviet-Russian grandmasters as Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, and Alexander Alekhine are well-known and respected all around the world.
Russian Chess Federation inherited the records of the Soviet Union. But even after the collapse of the USSR, Russia still has numerous talented chess players. For example, Sergey Karjakin became the youngest grandmaster in the world. In conclusion, although some tendencies change, the general popularity of these sports is not going to change in the near future.
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