Sport in Iceland
It will surprise nobody to hear that sport in Iceland is popular. It’s popular in every country.
It is also not particularly surprising that the sport Europeans call football and North Americans call soccer is probably the most popular sport of them all. It is closely followed by handball, though, which some countries have barely even heard of.
Iceland is rather good at men’s handball – regularly beating the best teams in the world and winning Olympic silver at the Beijing Olympics and generally doing well at world championships. Iceland is rather bad at men’s football at the moment. On the women’s front, Iceland isn’t great at handball but among Europe’s best in football.
Iceland has its own successful football league system over the summer months, but the English Premier League is even more popular. Liverpool seems to be by far the most-loved team right across the country.
The Icelandic football league is very rare in that it runs over the summertime and therefore has a strong overseas following in betting circles. Aside from league football and handball, there is a surprisingly international and competitive basketball league in Iceland; but a lot less ice hockey than a lot of people imagine. There is also not a lot in the way of rugby or cricket.
Golf is very popular and there is plenty in the way of competitive indoor and outdoor athletics and swimming. Let’s not also forget downhill skiing and snowboarding and Nordic cross-country skiing.
Chess is considered by some to be a sport – and if you are among those people then chess is definitely one of Iceland’s national sports. Historically the country has taken it very seriously and that only increased following the legendary Fischer-Spassky match in Reykjavík.
Iceland has never had a Formula 1 driver; but that’s probably because it never had a suitable karting environment for young driving talents. That is now changing, with several challenging go-kart tracks in the country and interest growing constantly.
As for other sports…well, they’re pretty much all here. Even surprising ones like surfing and paragliding. And the old classics of kayaking and white water rafting are definitely worth checking out while you’re here!