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More than just a football nation

Which sports are popular in Germany, how do Germans keep fit and what role does sport play in society? Find the answers here. 

Christina IglhautChristina Iglhaut , 14.02.2024
For Germans, cycling is the most popular way of keeping fit.
For Germans, cycling is the most popular way of keeping fit. © picture alliance / Zoonar

Germans love football and enjoy hiking. Most people know that. But did you also know that Germany is home to nearly 90,000 sports clubs and that handball was invented here? We have answers to key questions about sport in Germany 

How sporty are the Germans? 

More than half (52 percent) of over-18s do sport regularly, according to a survey conducted by the Techniker Krankenkasse (health insurance fund). For many people, sport serves as a healthy counterbalance to their work lives. More than a third (37 percent) of those surveyed said they took more than one hour of exercise per day – either on foot or by bike. 66 percent manage at least half an hour of exercise per day. The rest might affectionately be described as “Sportmuffel” - roughly equivalent to a “couch potato” - in Germany. 

Which sports are popular in Germany? 

Hardly surprisingly, football is the undisputed number one sport in Germany – be it on television or on one of the thousands of pitches across the country. More than seven million people in Germany are members of a football club; in terms of popularity, football is followed by gymnastics and tennis.  

A fun fact: With around 316,000 members, FC Bayern Munich is the world’s largest football club. 

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How important are sports clubs in Germany? 

Germany is home to nearly 90,000 sports clubs with around 28 million members. Many people get involved on a voluntary basis, either as instructors or coaches, or by sitting on the board. Their dedication is really worthwhile: after all, sport teaches us important values such as tolerance and fairness, while at the same time bringing together people of different cultures and social backgrounds - which fosters inclusion and integration. The German government also supports this with numerous sports funding programmes worldwide

Which sport was invented by Germans? 

The 2024 European Handball Championship was held in Germany. The German team made it to the semi-finals. Their success may well be related to the history of this sport. After all, two Berliners - Max Heiser and Carl Schelenz - are regarded as the inventors of modern handball. 

How much do you know about sport in Germany?
Including 2024, how many times will Germany have hosted the European Football Championships on its own?
Which city last hosted the Olympic Games in Germany in 1972?
How long has the German Sports Aid Foundation been supporting up-and-coming youngsters and elite athletes in Germany?
In approximately how many countries has the International Sports Promotion scheme been supporting projects since the 1960s?
How many fitness studios are there in Germany?