Sports might not be the first thing that comes to one’s mind when Switzerland is mentioned. But… remember those exquisite Alps and that breathtaking landscape we see in Swiss chocolate ads or packaging?
They are the haven of the country’s most favored sports. Notably, the Swiss tend to enjoy sports as it is stated that 1 in 4 of them is an active member of a sports club. This list includes worldwide famous ones, but also a few traditional sports which the Swiss have treasured through generations (and which non-Swiss people have never heard of).
No doubt that football (or soccer as Americans would say) is the most popular sport in Europe; and Switzerland is no exception. The Swiss love to play and to watch football. It is estimated that 10,000 matches take place every weekend.
There are two main leagues: the Swiss Super League and the Swiss Challenge one. Unfortunately, Switzerland has not yet noted major international success, but regularly manages to reach the final rounds of the World Cup.
Little may know that the two most important international football federations have found their home in the European country: FIFA in Zürich and UEFA in Nyon. Furthermore, the FIFA World Football Museum is also based in Zürich, offering football fanatics a pulse-racing exhibition.
Besides its flag being a huge plus, the Swiss landscape and climate offer great opportunities and conditions for winter sports. One may say skiing is synonymous to the Swiss Alps. In fact, the country ranks fifth in the world’s most frequented skiing destinations. There is 7000 marked km of ski runs, which, amazingly, is comparable to the distance between Bern and New Delhi.
Around 37% of the Swiss population is claimed to regularly ski, the highest rate among other European countries. In total, Swiss skiing athletes have brought home 59 Olympic medals.
The most attractive skiing regions list: Zermatt, Verbier, St. Mortiz, Andermatt, Saas-Fee, Arosa, Davos, etc.
3. Ice Hockey
Do you want to know which match brings almost 7,000 Swiss fans together?
A National League one, of course.
Swiss ice hockey matches are guaranteed to fill stadiums and lock spectators in front of the TV. It marks one of the highest attendance rates in Europe, counting 6,760 spectators, as 16,000 matches are played annually.
This sport is traditionally enjoyed during winter, but matches are played during spring and late summer as well. The most impressive ice hockey stadium is based in the heart of the mountains in Davos, allowing fans and visitors to feel the old school ice hockey vibe, as the match is played in an open area rather than in a closed and stuffy one.
One does not simply leave out tennis while listing Switzerland’s most popular sports. I mean… Roger Federer, everyone?
Switzerland is home to the International Tennis Federation, which is located in Basel. Unlike the above-mentioned sports, Swiss tennis has become more popular in recent years due to the skilled athletes that it has brought off.
However, besides the latter, Swiss tennis is not in its peak of fame currently. Nowadays, the Swiss tend to play it for fun, counting over 4,000 teams that join the tournaments every year. The most attended one is the Swiss Indoor tournament which is held in Basel. Citizens and visitors will probably find tennis courts around the city, where they have the chance to play tennis. The surrounding mountainous views are a bonus.
Last but not least we have the Swiss’ traditional Alpine sports, which have maintained their values through the years.
Hornussen is basically a combination of golf and baseball. Nowadays, it is mainly played in certain regions, such as the Mittelland cantons. It originates way back, where young farmers used to gather and compete against other villages. Watch this video if you want to learn how it’s played.
Schwingen, on the other hand, is an Alpine wrestling sport. It dates from the 19th century’s wrestling festivals. It is a duel between two competitors, who wrestle in a circle of sawdust. The first one to get the other’s back on the ground wins.
What has caught my attention about the sport is the respectfulness and maturity of the players, for the winner wipes off the sawdust of the loser’s back. It is considered a sport on the up, as its popularity is increasing day by day. Counts of 5000 people now are members of the Swiss Schwingen Association.
Even though the last ones do not have the popularity of football, skiing, tennis, and ice hockey, hornussen and schwingen remain attractive for the Swiss, but especially for visitors due to their cultural values.
Did you know of them and did this list surprise you? Let us know!