Where Is Water Polo Most Popular

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Water polo is a demanding team sport played casually and competitively around the world. Many people agree that while it is incredibly rewarding, it is very taxing both on the mind and the body.

Although water polo is increasingly popular in many countries, there are some places where the poolside spectacle is more popular than in others. The sport is especially popular in countries like Croatia and Serbia.

Read on to learn more about where water polo is popular, why it is so popular in those areas, and more.

Man playing Water Polo throwing a ball - Where Is Water Polo Most Popular

Where is Water Polo the Most Popular Sport?

Water polo is an especially popular sport across much of Europe. Here are some of the countries where the sport is most popular based on people per point:


  1. Croatia – 173092
  2. Serbia – 235277
  3. Hungary – 816583
  4. Australia – 1371517


When it comes to interpreting these metrics, a lower number means that more people are playing water polo and scoring points. Therefore, we can see that water polo is most popular in Croatia.

Even so, water polo is not the most popular sport in Croatia. Like most of the world, soccer (or football) is the most popular sport in Croatia.

Man playing Water Polo throwing a ball - Where Is Water Polo Most Popular

Why Is Water Polo So Popular in Europe?

There are several reasons why water polo might be so popular and successful throughout Europe:


  • You can be the best water polo player ever, no matter your shape or size
  • You can learn how to play water polo while learning how to swim and get comfortable in the water
  • It is still a relatively small sport, so there is greater opportunity for growth in both education and career


Some people might also conclude that water polo is a symbol of pride for some of these countries, tied to political conflicts in the last century or so, which is why it is so popular.


Which Country Has the Most Medals in Water Polo?

Hungary is the undisputed water polo champion for both men’s and women’s teams, but Serbia has given them a run for their money in recent years.

Hungary has achieved 9 Olympic wins, 3 World titles, and 13 European victories with its men’s water polo team, while the women have gone on to bring home 2 World championships and a bronze at the Olympics.

The men’s team even had three consecutive wins at the Olympics (in 2000, 2004, and 2008), with six of the seven players being the same for all three victories. 

The Hungarian water polo team also celebrated the single coach who led them to victory in each of those competitions.


What is the Most Popular Water Polo Club?

The most popular event in water polo competitions is the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Champions League. Therefore, you could say that Pro Recco, an Italian team, is the most popular water polo club because of its success in the LEN Champions League.

Only 18 countries have participated in the competition, and just 24 clubs have won the title, 10 of which have won multiple times. Pro Recco has the most wins with ten titles and is also the most recent champion (at the time of writing).


Is Water Polo a Popular Sports Worldwide?

Water polo is thought to have started in Scotland as a variation of rugby but in the water, thanks to William Wilson, a British journalist who outlined the rules in 1877. However, the sport has only grown on an international scale.

Today, water polo is a celebrated athletic event in countries around the world, including Brazil, China, Australia, the U.S.A., and much of Europe.

Some people might say that water polo was an American sport starting in 1888, but it is more likely that that year is when it spread to the U.S.


Final Thoughts on Where Water Polo is the Most Popular

Water polo is a pool-based sport that involves throwing a buoyant ball into the opponent’s goal while constantly swimming or treading water.

The intensive sport is most popular in countries like Croatia, Serbia, and Hungary, where teams regularly earn medals at continental and international competitions. 

That being said, Pro Recco is a popular Italian water polo club that has been performing spectacularly recently.

If you’re interested in learning water polo or want to become more comfortable in the water, give the sport a try.