5 most popular sports in Belgium

Sport is a popular activity in Belgium, whereby the locals like to play or watch a wide range of sports. While some sports like football, skiing, and tennis are popular as spectator sports, others like swimming and cycling are more popular as participatory sports and are considered a source of physical activity and recreation. 

Belgium is a developed country with the requisite infrastructural sport to provide opportunities for the locals to take part in a wide range of games and activities. This article highlights five of the most popular sports in Belgium.

Football In Belgium

Football is the national sport of Belgium, and like most of Europe, it is the most popular sport in the country. Belgium was also one of the founding members of FIFA, formed in 1904. The sport is administered by the Belgian Football Association, which was formed in 1895. 

The first championship was held in the country in 1895 among the ten founding member teams. In 1905 a second level was added to the structure, while the third and fourth levels were added in 1926 and 1952, respectively. Belgian football clubs were among the most successful in their region and won eight European titles between 1976 and 1988.

The national football team played its first international game against France in 1904, which ended in a draw. The team has qualified 12 times for the FIFA World Cup. It secured third place in the 2018 event. The team has also played in four UEFA European Football Championships and secured second place in the tournament in 1980.

Belgium was also the recipient of a gold medal in the Olympics in 1920. In the 2008 Olympics, the tea finished in fourth place.

Cycling In Belgium

The next sport on the list is cycling. Cycling is a very popular activity in Belgium, and people have plenty of facilities in this regard. All the major cities in the country have various cycle tracks and lanes. The countryside is also beautiful with wondrous landscapes, making cycling a very enjoyable and soothing activity. 

The Royal Belgian Cycling League administers formal cycling. The league is separated between the WBV (Dutch-speaking) and FCWB (French-speaking). 

Belgium is home to many popular cycle races, including disciplines such as track cycling and mountain bike racing. Belgian cyclists have also gained success internationally, and the country has been among the most successful since the sport originated. Eddy Merckx, the greatest Belgian cyclist of all time, won the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia five times. He has also secured wins in the UCI Road World Championship three times and Vuelta a Espana once.

Belgian cyclists have won four gold medals in the Olympics for road cycling. The country also has won the most World Championships, 25 to be precise. In addition, the country’s cyclists have also gained success in many renowned cycle races, including the Tour of Flanders, Milan San Remo, Paris Roubaix, Liege Bastogne Liege, and Giro di Lombardia.

Tennis In Belgium

The third most popular sport on our list is tennis. The sport is popular mainly due to the international success of Belgian tennis players, including Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. Both players were ranked no.1 in the WTA in the 2000s. Justine Henin 43 WTA championships, and Kim Clijsters won 41. These include the US Open, Australian Open, and French Open. Justine Henin also won a gold medal in the Olympics in 2004. 

The Royal Belgian Tennis federation regulates the sport in the country, which like cycling, is divided into two factions; the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking. 

From the current Belgian tennis players, the most notable male tennis player is David Goffin ranking 53rd in the ITF rankings, while Elise Mertens ranks 30th in the WTA rankings.

The popularity of tennis has increased considerably in the past two decades, and currently, nearly every major city has tennis courts and clubs to encourage the development of the sport. The locals also watch tennis matches, particularly Wimbledon and Roland Garros.

Winter Sports In Belgium

Winter sports are the fourth most popular sport in Belgium. While most sports are popular as spectator sports, the locals like to do skiing and also enjoy watching skiers in action. Belgium is home to ten beautiful ski resorts. 

Although the country’s landscape does not feature many mountains, the weather is perfect for the activity. The resorts receive locals and tourists in large numbers during the season, who visit solely for skiing. Cross-country skiing is a very popular activity among locals and tourists alike.

Swimming In Belgium

The last sport on our list and at the other end of the spectrum is swimming. Belgians love to swim as a good physical activity and form of recreation. However, the sport’s popularity has led to the emergence of many gifted swimmers, including Jasper Aerents, Frédérik Deburghgraeve, and the Anthon brothers.

Belgian swimmers have won five Olympic medals, including two bronze medals, two silver medals, and one gold medal. 

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