In What Countries Is Handball A Popular Sport?

Handball, a fast-paced and thrilling team sport, has gained immense popularity in numerous countries across the globe. Predominantly played in Europe, with powerhouse nations such as Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia at the forefront; this engaging athletic event has captured fans’ attention worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Handball is most popular in Europe, with countries like Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia at the forefront of the sport.
  • The popularity of handball in these countries can be attributed to cultural significance, international success and strong professional leagues.
  • Handball is gaining traction in other regions such as Asia and South America due to its accessibility and inclusivity. Emerging interest in Africa also indicates potential for growth.
  • With its inclusion as an Olympic sport and evolving rules and variations, handball has limitless potential for further expansion worldwide.

Handball: A Popular Sport In Europe

Handball is a major sport in several European countries, including Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia.


As one of the leading nations in European handball, Germany boasts a rich history and numerous successes in the sport. Fans and players alike revel in their country’s strong performance on the international stage.

The popularity of handball amongst Germans is ingrained within their culture, where dedicated facilities cater to players’ needs, ensuring an optimal playing experience for amateurs and professionals alike.

A prime example of this obsession is THW Kiel – one of Europe’s top club teams that consistently attracts large crowds to their home games.


France is one of Europe’s handball powerhouses and has been a driving force in the sport for decades. Handball is immensely popular in France, where it ranks as the second most played team sport after football.

The country boasts an impressive record on the international stage, having won two Olympic titles (in men’s and women’s events), six World Championships (men’s), and four Euro Championships (women’s).

French clubs have also won multiple European Cup titles, making them one of the strongest teams outside of Scandinavia.


Denmark is a country where handball is immensely popular. It’s not just one of the most popular sports but also an integral part of Danish culture, played by both men and women at all levels.

The national handball team has been incredibly successful over the years, winning multiple major titles like the Olympic Gold Medal in 2016 and several European Championships.

At club level, Denmark boasts one of Europe’s strongest leagues with teams such as Aalborg Handbold and KIF Kolding Copenhagen regularly competing at international stages.

This success can be attributed to Denmark’s excellent infrastructure for handball which includes training facilities specifically designed for the sport and strong participation rates across all age groups.


Spain is one of the countries where handball is highly popular. It is among the top five most played sports in Spain, with a professional league that attracts top talent from around the world.

The Spanish men’s team has won numerous international competitions, including gold at the 2013 World Championships and silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The women’s team also holds an impressive record, having won bronze medals at both the 2011 and 2019 World Championships.

Spain’s success in international competitions can be attributed to several factors, some of which include a strong tradition of physical activity and fitness, as well as excellent facilities for training and competition.

Many young athletes are drawn to handball because it allows them to showcase their athleticism while participating in a highly competitive sport.


Croatia is a country where handball has gained immense popularity in recent years. The sport has grown rapidly, and the Croatian national team is considered one of the best in the world.

They have been successful in international competitions, winning medals at major events like the Olympics and World Championships.

The strong professional leagues within Croatia have also contributed to its growth and development as a leading handball nation globally. The country boasts state-of-the-art facilities that cater specifically to handball players, making it easier for young people to participate in training programs and develop their skills in the sport.

The Reasons Why Handball Is Popular In These Countries

Handball is popular in these countries due to its cultural significance, success in international competitions, strong professional leagues, and accessibility with high participation rates.

Cultural Significance

Handball is not just a sport in many countries, but it is also deeply rooted in their culture. In Denmark, for example, handball is considered the national game and has become a symbol of Danish identity.

Furthermore, handball serves as a platform for unity and pride among communities. In Spain, for instance, La Liga de la Asobal teams are often connected with specific regions and cities such as Barcelona or Vigo.

Overall, these cultural connections highlight how important handball is to the people who play and watch it.

Success In International Competitions

European countries dominate in international handball competitions, with many of the top-performing teams coming from Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia. Success on the global stage has helped to boost the popularity of handball in these nations.

In men’s world championships since 1938, European countries have taken all medals except one. Similarly, European teams have also performed exceptionally well at women’s World Championships.

This success fuels national pride and encourages more young players to take up handball as a sport of choice.

Strong Professional Leagues

Handball’s popularity in Europe owes much to the strength of its professional leagues. Countries like Germany, France, and Spain have well-established handball leagues that attract top players from across the world.

For example, the German Handball-Bundesliga is one of the best handball leagues globally, with an average attendance of over 6,000 fans per game. The French Ligue Nationale de Handball attracts talented players from around the globe.

The success of these strong professional leagues has also contributed to Europe’s dominance on the international stage.

Accessibility And Participation Rates

Handball’s popularity is not only due to its success in international competitions and strong professional leagues. It also owes a lot to its accessibility and participation rates.

Additionally, schools often have handball teams or include it as part of their physical education curriculum. This exposure at a young age leads many individuals to continue playing the sport throughout their lives.

Furthermore, amateur leagues provide opportunities for individuals who want to compete without committing themselves entirely to becoming professional athletes.

Handball Outside Of Europe

Handball is also gaining popularity in other regions, with a growing interest in Asia and South America, as well as emerging interest in Africa.

Growing Popularity In Asia

Handball’s popularity is rapidly growing in Asia, with countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China showing particular interest. The International Handball Federation has been working hard to promote the sport in these countries by organizing training sessions for coaches and players and providing resources for schools to introduce handball into their curriculum.

In 2019, Japan hosted the Men’s World Championship for the first time ever, demonstrating a significant progression in Asian handball. Furthermore, several Asian teams have been making strides on the international stage with notable performances at recent events like the Asian Games and World Championships.

Popularity In South America

Handball may not be as popular in South America as it is in Europe, but the sport has certainly made a mark on the continent. Argentina and Brazil are two of the biggest handball nations in South America, with both countries fielding competitive national teams.

One of the reasons for handball’s growing popularity in South America is its accessibility and inclusivity. Handball requires minimal equipment and can be played on various surfaces, making it easy for people from different backgrounds to participate.

Emerging Interest In Africa

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in handball in Africa. While the sport is not yet as popular as it is in Europe, countries such as Tunisia and Egypt have made significant strides on the international stage.

One reason for this emerging interest in handball could be due to increased exposure and access to international competitions through media coverage and digital platforms.

Additionally, efforts from national federations to invest in grassroots programs and build proper facilities have helped increase participation rates.

The Future Of Handball As A Global Sport

Handball’s future as a global sport looks promising, with its inclusion in the Olympics and growing popularity outside of Europe.

Olympics And Global Competitions

Handball has been an Olympic sport for quite some time now, with men’s handball being introduced in 1936 and women’s handball in 1976. The Olympics is the most prestigious global competition for any athlete across different sports, and handball is no exception.

But there are other global competitions to look forward to as well, such as the Men’s World Championships and Women’s World Championships, which take place every two years.

It goes without saying that participation in these international events provides a platform for players to showcase their talent on a bigger stage while representing their country at the same time.

Evolving Rules And Variations

The rules of handball have evolved over time, leading to exciting and fast-paced gameplay. One significant change was the introduction of a shot clock in 1970, which forced teams to shoot within 30 seconds or forfeit possession.

There are also variations of handball played around the world, such as beach handball and wheelchair handball. These adaptations allow for greater inclusivity and provide diverse opportunities for players and fans alike.

Potential For Growth In New Markets

Handball is a sport with great potential for growth in new markets. While it remains most popular in European countries, interest is growing in other parts of the world. In Asia, for example, handball has seen significant progress and investment.

Moreover, Africa is also starting to show interest in handball as its popularity spreads gradually, Tunisia making it an official national sport after experiencing global success at major tournaments.

As more people around the world discover this exciting team sport and continued efforts promote handball globally through international competitions like Olympics combined with local grassroots activities, we can expect to see even greater growth potential.

Challenges And Opportunities For The Sport’s Expansion

Expanding the popularity of handball outside of Europe presents both challenges and opportunities. One challenge is the lack of facilities designed for handball, which may hinder accessibility to the sport in some areas.

However, there are also several opportunities for handball’s expansion globally. The sport’s inclusion in the Olympics has helped to increase its profile on a global level.

Moreover, emerging markets such as Asia and Africa show increasing interest in the sport that could lead to further growth in participation rates worldwide.


Handball is a popular team sport, most commonly played in Europe. Countries like Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia have embraced handball as a major sport due to cultural significance, international success and strong professional leagues.

Handball has also gained popularity in Asia and South America with emerging interest in Africa. With its inclusion as an Olympic sport and evolving rules and variations, handball has the potential for growth in new markets while facing challenges for expansion.

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