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The Most Volleyball-Obsessed Countries

by WoV

To many mainstream sports fans, football, soccer, baseball, and MMA are the biggest spectator sports. According to statistics from the Olympic Program Commission, however, volleyball is the most played sport worldwide. It might not be the most advertised or widely broadcast, but there’s a deep, pervasive culture around volleyball in some countries – with people even betting on it via sportsbooks and online gambling platforms like casinos.com. So, which countries have the strongest passion for volleyball?

Brazil

This list is in no particular order, but Brazil is certainly number one on any volleyball-related list. Essentially, it’s a volleyball country. With two decades of dominance at the Olympic Games and the most titles overall, it’s hard to ignore that Brazilians both love and are good at the sport. Where does its tradition come from? The timeless beach town of Saquarema, home to the top volleyball training center in the country. Many of the country’s residents eat, sleep, and breathe the sport, and it has produced some of the world’s best male and female players.

Russia

Like in Brazil, volleyball in Russia started developing early – in the 1920s – making it one of the oldest team sports practiced in the country. And this deeply ingrained culture has paid off through successes in both men’s and women’s volleyball. Their talent has bolstered the national team, ranking highly in the World Championships, the Olympics, the European Championships, and many other smaller tournaments. With so much community engagement and youth development around the sport taking priority, the sport maintains its prestige and legacy in Russia.

Italy

Sports, in general, have a larger-than-life representation in Italy. Just look at how soccer is revered – it comprises so much of the Italian identity. But little do many know, Italians have a secret love affair with another sport: volleyball. The country boasts one of the most competitive leagues ever – the Lega Pallavolo Serie A. For decades, the best volleyball players in the world have played in the league, competing against top-tier players to climb to the highest level – the SuperLega. Ultimately, volleyball has a strong tradition in Italy, with elite coaches and well-funded clubs that have successfully built an incredible force continentally and internationally.

USA

This might come as a surprise, but the sport of volleyball actually originated in the USA. Combining the main components of basketball, handball, and tennis, volleyball was born at Springfield College, Massachusetts. That might explain why America has such an affinity for collegiate-level volleyball, with plenty of clubs and professional NCAA teams dominating the scene. There are also professional leagues, such as the Association of Volleyball Professionals for beach volleyball and the National Volleyball Association, as well as the national teams that have garnered plenty of success too.

China

When it comes to certain sports, like table tennis, badminton, and several Olympic sports, China frequently takes the crown. Volleyball is just another one, owing to its popularity and developments over the past two centuries. The sport became widely played in schools and universities for recreational purposes and as part of the curriculum. As national teams and other leagues began to emerge, it further established volleyball as an integral part of Chinese sports culture. The Chinese Volleyball League was only founded 28 years ago, in 1996, consisting of 15 women’s clubs and 14 men’s clubs dotted around major regions of China.

Poland

Poland established itself as a volleyball nation early on, with the sport commonly played in schools and communities, and later with the notable success of its national volleyball teams and attractive volleyball leagues. The country naturally excels at the sport and prides itself on the men’s PlusLiga and the women’s Liga Siatkówki Kobiet. Rivaling Italy’s SuperLega and attracting all kinds of international talent every year, they see the Polish leagues as a huge opportunity to refine their craft and learn from the best. Many other countries are classified as top competitors in volleyball, including Poland, but the Polish are also huge spectators of the sport – you’ll see volleyball competitions mentioned in headlines, people going to matches just like Americans attend baseball games, and an all-around intense level of involvement.

Serbia

Sports in Serbia are all-encompassing and broad. They’ve got stars in swimming, tennis, shooting, kayaking, basketball, water polo, and volleyball – to name a few. It was one of the several American sports introduced to the country in the early 1920s, with many returns in the form of Olympic medals and championship wins. On a national scale, they have the Serbian Superliga, which has 10 teams that are often outshined by OK Vizura and OK Crvena.

Japan

The Japanese national volleyball teams are fierce competitors in the international scene, as both men’s and women’s teams have consistently ranked high thanks to their technique and strategy on the court. Japan has a unique attitude toward sports, viewing them through the lens of discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Like the USA, the country has many university-level teams and youth programs, but also corporate teams. Given the intensive work culture in Japan, it’s no surprise that one of their other loves, volleyball, intertwines with professional life.

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