The sport of volleyball has become increasingly popular all over the world but which countries are best at it?
By looking at the record of the biggest volleyball nations, we can see which of them have been most successful.
No matter which measure we use, Brazil comes out on top in any online betting prediction. The sport is hugely popular here and they lead the FIVB World Rankings too. In terms of the Olympics, Brazil leads the men’s table with three golds and three silvers but is down in fifth place in the female version, thanks to a couple of gold medals, a silver, and two bronze medals.
Volleyball was first played at the Olympic Games in 1964, and the now-defunct Soviet Union won the first gold medals in the men’s events. By the 1980s, Brazil had become a force in the game, winning their first silver medal in 1984 and then claiming gold in 1992.
With the 2016 games held in Rio, the home nation won two of the four gold medals, confirming their dominance in the men’s game both indoors and on the beach. The sport remains hugely popular among Brazilians of all ages, and they also created a sport called footvolley that combines volleyball and soccer.
The United States
Since second place in the medals table is taken by the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, we can say that the US is the second-best team behind Brazil right now. In fact, the early years of the sport in the Olympics was dominated by the USSR and other Eastern bloc countries, but the turning point appears to have come with the Soviet decision to not go to the 1984 Olympics, where the Americans won gold in the men’s tournament and silver in the women’s event.
That marked the beginning of an era in which the US and Brazil have fought for dominance. The Americans have earned four golds in total and picked up another in the 2020 games, where their female team easily defeated Brazil by 3-0 to win their first ever gold medal.
As for the male team in 2020, they won their first couple of games but losses to Brazil and Argentina saw them sent home early, to the surprise of their supporters. With the sport getting increasingly competitive it’s going to be tough for the Americans to maintain their position near the top, but it’s worth remembering that the sport was invented here and that more than 46 million Americans are said to play volleyball regularly.
The medal table for the Summer Olympics shows us how popular volleyball is across the world, as the medals have been shared out across many teams from across the planet. This means that few teams have truly dominated the sport, with some nations enjoying brief spells at the top before falling away.
Japan is one of the few nations to be near the top of both men’s and women’s medal tables, thanks to a combined total of three golds. The truth is that their women’s team’s two golds came way back at the first Olympic volleyball tournament, in 1964 and 1976.
However, their male team had their sole victory in 1972, so it’s been a long time since they tasted success at the Olympics. The 2020 games suggested that Japan could be set to make another attempt at becoming one of the strongest teams again, and there’s no doubt that it remains a hugely popular sport that’s widely played. The latest volleyball betting odds have Japan as favorites to beat both South Korea and Thailand in their upcoming Asian Cup games.
There isn’t such a long tradition of volleyball success in France as in the other countries we’ve looked at, but in the last few years their men’s team has proven to be one of the best around and won the gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after finishing ninth in 2016.
France is currently rated second in the FIVB rankings for their men’s team and won the European Championships as well as the World League in 2016. Their female team has been less successful and will compete in their first ever Olympics in 2024, thanks to the fact that they’ve automatically qualified as the host nation.
While soccer remains the most popular sport in France, volleyball is widely played and there are clubs across the country. Earvin N’Gapeth is arguably the best player in the country and he has an impressive string of trophies won at club and international level. He was the player of the tournament award in the 2020 Olympics and is also an excellent soccer player. It isn’t clear why the French men’s team is so much better than the women’s team, but they’ll be hoping that 2024 gives the women the chance to start to shine.