Sport in Russia

Russia’s traditional popular sport is Bandy (informally called “Russian hockey”). It is considered by the country as a national sport, and is one of the biggest spectator sports. Although the modern rules of the game were written in England, Russians still claim to be the inventors of this sport.


Among the other most played sports in Russia are basketball, ice hockey, football, rugby league, handball, weightlifting, gymnastics, figure skating, biathlon, boxing, wrestling, martial arts, volleyball, rugby union, and skiing.

Lev Ivanovich Yashin nicknamed as “The Black Spider” was a Soviet-Russian football goalkeeper, considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. He was also vice president of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union. Andrey Sergeyevich Arshavin is a Russian professional footballer who plays for FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. He is an ex-captain of the Russian national team. Arshavin began his career at Zenit in the year 2000. He won numerous trophies with the club until his departure in 2009 including the Russian Premier League, Russian Premier League Cup, Russian Super Cup, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

One notable international sporting event that was recently held in Russia was the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Below are details of sports, sporting events and sports people related to Russia.

Russian athletes have been very successful in the past, often competing on the world stage for the USSR up until the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia won the right to host World Cup 2018.

See also the list the most popular internet searches for “sports” in Russia.

Popular sports of Russia (see more)

  • Football (Soccer), Figure Skating, Basketball, Ice hockey, Tennis, handball, weightlifting, gymnastics, figure skating, biathlon, boxing, wrestling, volleyball, skiing, rugby union

Traditional or Regional Sports

  • Bandy – a team sport played on ice using sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team’s goal, a precursor to ice hockey.
  • Lapta a Russian traditional bat and ball game. The aim of the game is to hit a ball, served by a player of the opposite team, with a bat as far as possible, then run across the field, and if possible back again.
  • Moscow Broomball – a variation of Broomball, an ice hockey type sport, played in Moscow and only by non-Russians.
  • Gorodki – a folk sport from Russia, where competitors strike down a group of cylindrical wooden objects by throwing a bat.
  • Russian Pyramid — a cue sport played in countries of the former Soviet Union (also known simply as Pyramid(s), Russian billiards or Russian pool)
  • Sambo — a martial art developed for Russia’s military and police force in the 1930s

Russian Sporting Success

  • Russia / USSR have dominated the top of the medal tally for many of the Olympic Games since 1956.

Athletes from Russia

  • Maria Sharapova (tennis)
  • Anna Kournikova (tennis)
  • Alexander Popov (Swimmer)
  • Evgeny Plushenko (Figure Skating)
  • Pavel Bure (Ice Hockey)
  • Lev Ivanovich Yashin (football)

Russia Sports trivia

  • Russian athletes first competed at the Olympic Games in 1900.
  • At the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Russia’s Oleg Solenko scored five goals against Cameroon, which was the record for most goals by a single player in a World Cup match.

Russia at major events

  • Russia at the Summer Olympics
  • Russia at the Winter Olympics
  • Russia at the FIFA World Cup
  • Russia women’s football team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup
  • Russia at the Rugby World Cup

Past sporting events hosted in Russia

  • Olympic Games summer hosts: 1980 Moscow
  • 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan
  • 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi

Upcoming sporting events in Russia

  • 2017 World Swimming Championships in Kazan
  • 2018 FIFA World Cup
  • 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk

Annual sporting events held in Russia

Sporting Facilities in Russia

  • Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow, capacity 78,360)
  • Olimpiyskiy (Moscow, built for 1980 Games)