5 most popular sports in Italy

Italy has a very strong football community. From one end of the prosperous north to the traditional south, young and old locals like to play and watch football. The sport is so deeply rooted in the social fabric that it is perceived as an integral part of the local culture.

Italians generally love sports and the excitement associated with the games. There are a variety of sports available to satiate the locals’ appetite for some excitement and physical activity. This article takes a look at five of the most popular sports in Italy.

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Football In Italy

Football is religiously followed throughout the peninsula. The locals are very passionate about the sport and vocal about it too. They not only like to watch football matches but like to play as well. Currently, Italy has more than 4.3 million licensed football players.

The country’s premium league is called the Serie A, one of the world’s best soccer leagues. The 80-year-old league comprises 20 clubs, with the most popular clubs including AC Milano, Juventus Torino, and AS Roma.

The national team is one of the best teams in the world, with a lustrous record. The team has won the FIFA World Cup twice in 1934, and 1938, and many years later in 1982, and then in 2006. Currently, it is at number 6 in the FIFA rankings. The team has dominated two European Championships as well, with the latest win in 2020.

Basketball In Italy

Basketball is the second most prevalent sport in Italy. It is one of Europe’s six major basketball-playing countries, alongside Spain, France, Lithuania, Greece, and Serbia. Italy is one of the most consistent winners of the Euro League and is regarded as one of the best teams outside the US. 

Basketball has a rich history in Italy and is played widely throughout the country. At present, Italy has more than 600,000 registered basketball players. 

Italy’s most prominent professional basketball league is the Lega Basket Series A. The league comprises 16 teams, including the popular Virtus Bologna and Olimpia Milano. Some renowned NBA players started their careers with the Lega Basket Series A, including Danio Gallinari of the Boston Celtics and Marco Belinelli, who played for the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. The player is now the captain of the Virtus Bologna.

Volleyball In Italy

Next on our list is volleyball, which is referred to as Pallavolo in Italy. The sport was introduced in the country after the First World War, and the Federazione Italiana Palla a Volo was established in 1929. Italian volleyball players are some of the best players in the world, and it is their international success that has helped draw so much attention to the sport. 

The country’s men’s and women’s national volleyball teams are ranked among the best teams in the world. The men’s national team is currently placed second in the FIVB ranking.

The Italian Volleyball League, or the Lega Pallovolo Serie A, is considered the most competitive and challenging league in the world and is ranked number one in the world. The league comprises 12 teams. Besides the Lega Pallovolo Serie A, there are various secondary and tertiary-level leagues in Italy as well.

Water Polo In Italy

Another sport where Italy excels is water polo. The Italian national polo team ranks at 8th place in the world FINA rankings as of 2021. The team is governed by Federnuoto, the Italian Aquatics Federation. 

The men’s water polo team has won eight Olympic medals; the latest gold medal was won in 2019. It also won seven world championships, five world cups, three World League medals, and eleven European championships. The latest tournament that the team won was the World League in 2022.

Besides the national team, Italy also has a premier league division, the Serie A di Pallanuoto Maschile, established in 1912. The league comprises twelve teams, the most successful of which is Pro Recco since 1959, having won a total of 32 titles so far.

Rugby In Italy

The last sport we will discuss in this section is rugby, also known as pallovale or palla ovale in Italy. It was introduced in the country in the early 1900s.

Presently, rugby is most popular in northern parts of Italy. The national rugby union team is nicknamed The Blues or Gli Azzurri. It is one of the most successful teams in the world and has been participating in the world cup since 1987. 

The sport is governed by the Italian Rugby Federation. Besides the national team, Italy has more than a thousand rugby clubs. Two professional teams from Italy also compete in the United Rugby Championship, including Zebre and Treviso. The league also comprises South Africa, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, and one team earns a guaranteed spot in the European Rugby Championship Cup.

Can You Bet On Sports In Italy?

In Italy, sports betting is both popular and legal, encompassing a wide range of sports. The Italian government has established a regulatory framework that ensures betting activities are conducted in a secure and fair manner. Bettors in Italy can engage in betting on various sports, including the highly popular football, along with basketball, motorsports, and cycling. There are numerous licensed operators, both online and physical bookmakers, that offer betting services in Italy, providing opportunities to bet on both national and international events.


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