10 Well-Known Countries Where Soccer Is Not Popular

Pakistan national team Pakistan's players celebrate their win at the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers football match between Pakistan and Cambodia, at the Jinnah Sports stadium in Islamabad on October 17, 2023.
(Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. In every nation on earth, you will find lovers of the round-leather game.

But contrary to beliefs that soccer is the most popular sport in EVERY COUNTRY in the world, this is not actually the case.

While football does have fans in all countries, there are several nations in which other sports are more popular than soccer.

Here, TOP SOCCER BLOG presents you 10 well-known countries where soccer is not leading in terms of popularity.

1. Venezuela

South America is one of the most soccer-mad continents on the planet. But not all the countries there are passionate about the round-leather game.

One of the most notable exceptions is Venezuela, where the most popular sports in the country are baseball, basketball, and volleyball.

Baseball in Venezuela originated with the early 20th-century cultural influence of the United States oil companies.

Soccer has struggled to meet up with it since then. In fact, Venezuela did not have a professional football league until 1957. The second division was added in 1979, with a third added in 1999 and a fourth in 2006.

It is not surprising then that Venezuela has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup. It is the only CONMEBOL nation to have never appeared at soccer’s premier international tournament.

2. Philippines

Philippines Countries Where Soccer Is Not Popular WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 25: Sarina Bolden (2nd L) of Philippines celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group A match between New Zealand and Philippines at Wellington Regional Stadium on July 25, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Basketball tops soccer and other sports as the most popular sport in the Philippines.

There are six major sports in the Philippines: basketball, boxing, tennis, soccer, billiards, and volleyball.

Tennis, golf, and various aquatic sports (such as diving and windsurfing) are also widely practiced.

However, the Philippines women’s soccer team qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

3. Pakistan

Pakistan national team Pakistan's players celebrate their win at the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers football match between Pakistan and Cambodia, at the Jinnah Sports stadium in Islamabad on October 17, 2023.
 (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan, while field hockey, polo, and squash are also popular. Traditional sports like kabaddi and other well-known games are also played.

As a former colony, Pakistan’s love for cricket was largely influenced by Britain.

The country’s deep love of cricket has seen their national team win multiple international championships and become world-famous for the sport.

However, just recently, Pakistan claimed its first-ever win in soccer World Cup qualifying by edging Cambodia 1-0 in a match held on October 17, 2023. The victory improved Pakistan’s hopes of winning their first-ever World Cup qualifier.

4. India

Indian National Football Team

Like its neighbour, Pakistan, Cricket is the most popular sport in India. It generates the highest television viewership and features full-capacity audiences in stadiums during international and Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

Kabaddi has grown into the mainstream, and so have badminton, tennis, and athletics. Kho-kho has grown into becoming the fourth-most viewed sport in the country.

India has also had considerable success in field hockey. However, the country has subsequently invested in football, attracting some foreign football players to play in the Indian Super League.

There also some pretty well-known football clubs in India, and popular Indian football players.

The country has qualified for the FIFA World Cup only once, doing so in 1950.

5. China

Facts About Football In China 

Although a game similar to soccer (Cuju) was first played in China around 50 BC, sport in China has been long associated with martial arts.

Today, China consists of a variety of competitive sports. Traditional Chinese culture regards physical fitness as an important characteristic. China has its own national quadrennial multi-sport event similar to the Olympic Games called the National Games.

Before the 1980s, the country’s international sports success was mainly in table tennis. This changed with the 1981 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup, where the Chinese women won the gold medal amidst enormous public attention.

Soccer was only professionalized in China in 1994, followed by basketball, volleyball, ping pong, and weiqi.

At the international level, Chinese soccer has enjoyed little success despite the amount of support it receives from fans. Although the national team qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, they failed to score a single goal and lost all three group-stage matches.

Basketball is the largest spectator sport in China. In fact, the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup was held in China.

According to the Chinese Basketball Association, there is a record number of around 300 million active basketball players in China.

Did you know? China led the gold medal count at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, with 48. You can read up more facts about football in China.

6. Australia

Sam Kerr Australia BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Sam Kerr of Australia applauds their fans after defeating England during the Women's International Friendly match between England and Australia at Gtech Community Stadium on April 11, 2023 in Brentford, England.
(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

In Australia, Australian football, cricket, rugby, and tennis enjoy enormous popularity than soccer.

Although the country’s top soccer division (A-League) continues to grow, the tremendous enthusiasm for Australian football and cricket means soccer is nowhere near top spot.

Australia is also one of the few countries that call football soccer. You can learn more about soccer in Australia.

7. Lithuania

Ahead of soccer in Lithuania are basketball, athletics, and cycling.

Basketball is the most popular (and successful) sport in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian national basketball team won the European Basketball Championship in 1937, 1939 (when it was the host country), and 2003. They won silver medals in 1995, 2013, and 2015, bronze in 2007, and again hosted EuroBasket 2011.

They were the bronze medal winners in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which was one of the biggest underdog stories of the team, beating Spain, France, Argentina, and Serbia in the bronze medal match while eventually being only defeated once, in the semifinal against Team USA.

In the Olympics competition, Lithuania was basketball bronze medalist at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Summer Olympics. The basketball team finished 4th in 2004 (although it defeated Team USA in the group stage, it then lost the bronze medal game against them) and 2008.

Lithuania has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup in its history. At club level, no Lithuanian team has ever reached the group stage of any major UEFA tournament (Champions League, Europa League, or even Conference League).

8. Finland

Pesäpallo (Finnish baseball) is the national sport of Finland, although the most popular forms of sport in terms of television viewers and media coverage are ice hockey and Formula One. In spectator attendance, harness racing comes right after ice hockey in popularity.

Soccer in Finland, unlike in most European countries, is not the most popular spectator sport, as it falls behind ice hockey — which enjoys a huge amount of popularity in the country.

The Finnish national ice hockey team has won the World Championship four times, in 1995, 2011, 2019, and 2022, and is considered a member of the so-called “Big Six” — the six strongest men’s ice hockey nations, along with Canada, Czechia, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

At the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Finnish hockey team won at the Men’s tournament Olympic gold for the first time.

Other popular sports in Finland include floorball, bandy, and ringette.

Like most of the countries on this list, Finland has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup.

9. New Zealand

New Zealand soccer teams that play in black New Zealand players celebrate after beating Norway 1-0 in the opening match of the FIFA Women's World Cup football tournament at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 20, 2023.
(Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand by a large margin. Rugby started being played in New Zealand all the way to the early 1900s, which is when the first professional league was formed.

The presence of rugby in New Zealand was largely influenced by the British.

While soccer definitely has followers in New Zealand, rugby is so integrated into the national culture that it is unlikely any sport will overtake its dominance in the country.

Cricket and netball are also quite popular in the country. New Zealand has, at times, been one of the strongest teams in world cricket.

10. Canada

Canada best women's national soccer team

(Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Canada’s official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse.

Of the countries on this list, Canada is probably one of the least surprising. The cold weather and the prevalence of ice in Canada made it easy for ice hockey to be extremely favoured.

Golf, baseball, tennis, skiing, ringette, badminton, cricket, volleyball, cycling, swimming, bowling, rugby, canoeing, equestrian, squash, and martial arts are also widely popular.

Canada shares several major professional sports leagues with the United States.

Canadian teams in these leagues include seven franchises in the National Hockey League, as well as three Major League Soccer teams and one team in each of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Other popular professional sports in Canada include Canadian football, lacrosse, and curling.

Canada has only qualified for the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1986 and 2022. However, they seem to perform better in women’s soccer. Christie Sinclair, one of the greatest women’s soccer player of all time, is Canadian.

The country is set to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside Mexico and the United States. You can find out the top soccer clubs in Canada and the greatest Canadian soccer players of all time.

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