Where is Handball popular in the world?

In general terms, the cradle of the sports popularity is in Europe, with Scandinavia, the Balkan countries, Germany, France, Spain being the countries where the sport has the greatest popularity. In several of those countries Handball is the 2nd most popular team sport after soccer.

These articles with color coded maps depict the sport’s popularity in different continents:

  • Europe: Link
  • Africa: Link
  • North America & the Caribbean: Link
  • South and Central America: In Development
  • Asia: In Development
  • Oceania: In Development

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What is the popularity of handball in the United States?

Handball is a very minor sport in the US and the vast majority of Americans are totally unaware that the sport even exists. Handball is rarely shown on TV in the USA and the only significant coverage has typically been during the Olympic Games.

There are 20 – 40 handball clubs in the United States and they are mostly located in large cities and at some colleges and universities. Clubs typically practice 1 or 2 times a week and participate in weekend tournaments 3 to 4 times a year. Some clubs located in the northeast also particpated in the Northeast Team Handball League.

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How popular is Handball worldwide?

The answer to this question is open to debate and is highly dependent on how popularity is defined.

The International Handball Federation (IHF) Marketing Webpage lists 209 member federations representing 28,000 clubs, 128,000 teams and a total of 27 million players. These numbers have to be taken into context, however, as some of these nations have negligible handball programs and what exactly constitutes a team in the 128,000 referenced teams is not defined.

For many years the often quoted statement was that Handball was the 2nd most popular sport in the world. This was always a bit of a stretch in light of basketball’s increasing popularity, particularly in China. While #2 may not be true world-wide, handball is the consensus #2 sport in several countries. This FAQ contains maps depicting where the sport is popular on each continent: Link

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