What is the sports capital of the world?

It’s an interesting question.

This came to mind as I was thinking about a similar, non-sports related question: what is the capital of the world?

This led me to the question that I will be reviewing in this article: what is the sports capital of the world? My criteria was which city had the highest participation levels (if those were available), the most professional sports teams, and how many of those teams were successful.

There is less interest in the place of birth of athletes who practice non-team sports. So, now I’m going to go over the top contenders, and finally the city that I believe to be the sports capital of the world.

New York City

Two NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA franchises and three NHL clubs. New York is the city with the most “big four” American sports teams (American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey). Between them, they have 49 national titles.

Without a doubt, it is a tick for a criterion. However, I cannot bring myself to give my title to an American city. This is because in these four sports, their only competition is other American teams.

These sports don’t have enough big professional teams, which makes it a joke that the United States is so good at baseball that it’s the only country to have won the World Series. However, have no doubt that New York is high on the list of sports capitals.


Melbourne is my Australian choice and there are several reasons for that. The first, and most obvious, is that half of the AFL teams are based in Melbourne. As a result, a ridiculous number (98, to be exact) of VFL/AFL titles have come from the region, but if I make that claim against US cities, I have to do the same against Melbourne AFL teams.

The sport started in Victoria, after all.

Then there are over 100,000 registered cricketers in Victoria (I realize this is different from Melbourne) and the city has two Big Bash franchises, with Renegades winning. The city has three ALM Championships and, of course, a Super Rugby team. It also earns bonus points for hosting the Australian Open and Australian Grand Prix and is very close to being my pick.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 30: Spectators stand for the national anthem at the start of the state memorial service for former Australian cricketer Shane Warne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia.  Warne died suddenly at the age of 52 on Friday March 4 while on vacation in Thailand.  (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)


It might not seem like an obvious choice, but on closer inspection you realize that all of Mumbai is sports mad. Mumbai Indians have won 5 IPLs and two of the now defunct Champions LeagueT20, making them the most successful franchise in the Indian Premier League.

The Mumbai cricket team represents the city in top class matches and is the most successful Indian provincial team. Five percent of Indians play cricket and if you use the same multiplier for Mumbai then just under a million people play cricket in Mumbai. A million!

It’s not just cricket either – a wide variety of sports are played in India’s second largest city.

London – the sports capital of the world

The sports capital of the world. It ticks all the boxes. There will be 13 London teams in the English Football League next season, and there will be four other professional clubs. London clubs have won 21 top English titles, 42 FA Cups and two Champions Leagues.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are all global sports brands. Half of the four teams that reached the English rugby playoffs this season are based in London: Saracens and Harlequins.

Cricket is also big in London, with Surrey and Middlesex plying their trade in the capital, with Middlesex playing cricket’s home, Lord’s.

If you use UK averages, 1.5 million Londoners play football and the numbers are high with cricket and rugby and rising all the time. It’s not just these three, however, with an even greater variety of sports than Mumbai.

I’m sure many of you think Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world, so tell me why in the comments and also give me some cities you think I missed.

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