Which are the 10 best water polo teams in the world?

Which are the 10 best water polo teams in the world?

Grace Waruguru
June 11, 2024 at 2:41 PM

Which are the best water polo teams worldwide? The sport, formerly known as Aquatic Football, is among the most challenging sports where competitors attempt to score the ball into the opposing team's goal. Read on and find out the best teams in the world as of 2024.

Water polo teams
Water polo athletes from Canada. Photo: @WaterpoloCanada (Modified by author)
Source: Instagram

Table of Сontents:

Are there professional water polo teams? The sport was invented in the 1879s and was among the first games introduced in the 1900 modern Olympics. It features two teams of seven players competing in a deep pool where their feet cannot touch the bottom. Here are the best water polo teams in the world.

Top 10 best water polo teams

Water polo teams



United States of America








Besides the Summer Olympics, water polo competitions happen at the World Championship, the FINA Water Polo World Cup, the World Aquatics Championships, and the FINA Water Polo World League, the sport's first international league.

The First World Cup was held in 1979, while the first Junior Men’s World Championships took place in 1981. FINA is the world governing body for aquatic sports. Water polo is more prevalent among men, but some countries have women's national teams. Here are the 10 best teams globally.

10. Canada

Canada water polo team
Canadian Jean Sayegh passes over Thomas Whalan (number 9) of Australia in the preliminary event during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 14, 2008, in Beijing, China. Photo: Adam Pretty
Source: Getty Images

In the 1950s, the Canadian Water Polo championships consisted of a home series of one game in two locations, Montreal and Hamilton. The first-ever national championship was in 1964, including teams from Vancouver, Calgary, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

The country's national team was established in 1965, following the Senior Canadian Championship held the same year. The team first qualified for the Olympic games in 2008. The men's side won their first silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Championships. Other titles the country has won include:

  • Pan American Championships silver medal (2011)
  • Finished the 2001 World Championships in third place
  • Gold medal at the FINA Women’s World Junior Championship (2003)
  • Gold medal at the Junior Pan American Games (2008)

9. Russia

Russian water polo player Egor Rastorguev
Egor Rastorguev attempts to block the Spanish team during the preliminary rounds of the men's water polo at the FINA World Swimming Championships, in Melbourne on 22nd March, 2007. Photo: William West
Source: Getty Images

The Russian men's national team is among the best water polo teams worldwide, succeeding the Soviet Water Polo team. The sport was included in the country's national water sports program in 1910, while the first tournament was held in 1913.

The country held its first championship in 1925 and introduced the USSR Water Polo Cup in 1945. The following year, the team joined FINA and debuted at the Winter Olympics in 1952. Here are some of their achievements:

  • Bronze medal at the 1994 World Championship
  • Silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Games
  • Gold Medal at the 2002 World Cup
  • Gold medal at the 2002 World League
  • Bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics

8. United States of America

American water polo player Tyler Abramson
Tyler Abramson of USA at the World Aquatics Championships 2023 Men's crossover match between USA and Canada on July 23, 2023, in Fukuoka, Japan. Photo: Albert Ten Hove
Source: Getty Images

In America, the sport is governed by USA Water Polo, founded in 1978 and oversees several national championships, including the Junior Olympics, Masters Nationals, the Men and Women's Senior Nationals, and the Champions Cup.

The USA water polo team is the only non-European squad to win medals in the men's Olympic tournament. They won a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Other achievements include:

  • FINA World Cup gold medal (1991, 1997)
  • Pan American Silver Medal (1955, 1963, 1975, 1991)
  • Pan American gold medal (1959, 1967, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, 2023)

7. Italy

Italy water polo team
Italy's team members gather before the men's water polo semi-final match between Italy and Serbia at the 16th FINA World Championships on August 6, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Roman Kruchinin
Source: Getty Images

Water Polo became popular in Italy after an 1899 exhibition match in Milan. The domestic league was established shortly afterwards, but the national squad first participated in the Olympic Games in 1920.

In 1948, the team made history by completing the Summer Olympics undefeated. The Italians claimed their first European Championship in 1947 and won 10. Some of the men's team achievements include:

  • FINA World Cup gold medal (1993)
  • FINA World League gold medal (2022)
  • Europa Cup bronze medal (2018)
  • Mediterranean Games gold medal (1955, 1975, 1987,

6. Spain

Felipe Perrone Rocha
Spain's Felipe Perrone Rocha celebrates after scoring a goal during the match between Hungary and Spain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 08, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Clive Rose
Source: Getty Images

The Spanish team is among the best water polo teams in Europe. They gained global popularity after winning three top events: The Olympic gold medal (1996), the World Championship (1998, 2001, 2022), and the European Championship (2024).

Spain also has a vibrant women's team that won the World Cup bronze medal in 2014 and 2023 and the World League gold medal in 2022. The men's side, popularly known as The Red Fury, also boasts other achievements, like the 2018 European Championship and 1992 World Cup silver medals.

5. Montenegro

Aljosa Macic
Aljosa Macic of Montenegro at the World Aquatics Championships 2023 on July 29, 2023, in Fukuoka, Japan. Photo: Albert Ten Hove
Source: Getty Images

The Water Polo and Swimming Federation of Montenegro oversees competitions in the country, which has one of the best professional water polo teams. The team was previously known as the Serbia and Montenegro national team under Yugoslavia. The squad won the FINA World League in 2009 and the 2008 Europa Cup.

4. Hungary

Hungary water polo team
The Hungary water polo team during the World Aquatics Championships 2023 Men's Waterpolo Gold Medal match between Greece and Hungary on July 29, 2023, in Fukuoka, Japan. Photo: Albert Ten Hove
Source: Getty Images

The Hungary water polo squad is undoubtedly one of the best in the sport, boasting over 16 Olympic titles and 12 World Championships. The nation has won medals in all but seven tournaments since its inception. Hungary won a silver medal at the 2022 World Championships.

3. Serbia

Serbia water polo team
Serbia's team members before the semi-final match between Italy and Serbia at the 16th FINA World Championships on August 6, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Roman Kruchinin
Source: Getty Images

The Serbian team is among the most successful water polo teams. They boast more titles than all the other Serbian national teams combined. In 2016, Serbia became the first side to win a title in all major championships simultaneously.

2. Croatia

Jerko Marinic Kragic
Jerko Marinic Kragic at the men's final water polo match between Italy and Croatia at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha on February 17, 2024. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana
Source: Getty Images

The Croatian water polo team, popularly known as "The Barracudas, " is among the best worldwide. The squad was the first in its country to win a gold medal. They continued to win at the World Championships (2007, 2014, 2014), European Championships(2010), FINA World League, and Mediterranean Games.

Croatia is yet to win a World Cup gold medal (as of June 2024), although the team won a silver medal in 2010. Since its inception, the crew has qualified for every big tournament.

1. Greece

Greece water polo team
Greece team members celebrate after defeating Italy in their Men's bronze medal match at the 16th FINA World Championships on August 8, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Adam Pretty
Source: Getty Images

The Greece water polo team operates under the Hellenic Swimming Federation. Their achievements include a silver medal at the 2020 Olympic Games and three bronze medals at the World Championships (2005, 2015, and 2022).

Greece is one of only nine national teams worldwide to win at least one medal in the World Championship. The country has competed 16 times at the Olympic Games (As of June 2024). Other achievements include:

  • Silver medal at the 1997 World Cup
  • World League bronze medal (2004, 2006, 2016)
  • Mediterranean Games bronze medals (1951, 1991, 1993, 2013)

Frequently asked questions

Water polo has gained popularity over the years in various countries worldwide. Here are some frequently asked questions about the sport:

Water polo, a form of water rugby, was invented by William Wilson in Scotland in the 19th century. It soon expanded into Europe, America, Canada, China, and Australia.

Which is the best water polo team worldwide?

According to online sources, Greece is the number one water polo team worldwide (as of June 2024). The country boasts over 19 medals, including 3 World League and 4 Mediterranean Games bronze medals.

Do women play water polo?

Women have participated in the sport at the European Championship level since 1985 and the World Championship level since 1986. Although the sport is more popular among men, several countries have embraced women's participation.

Final word

The best water polo teams have helped to establish the sport as one of the most popular aquatic sports. Despite its technical nature, water polo continues to attract more athletes, increasing its popularity globally.

READ ALSO: Who are the best girl water polo players in the sport?

Sports Brief published an article listing the top female water polo players globally. Recent studies have shown that America has produced the highest number of female players who have won numerous titles and accolades. Who are some of these athletes?

Maggie Steffens from the United States of America tops the list, followed by Italy's Tania Di Mario. Check out more of the top female water polo players in the above article.

Grace Waruguru photo
Grace Waruguru
Grace has over 4 years of experience in article writing and digital media content creation for various local and global brands. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication (Public Relations) from Daystar University, Kenya.