Among all sporting activities, FIFA World Cup captures the greatest imagination of people across the globe.
Essentially, FIFA World Cup is a football tournament that is held after every four years to determine the world champion. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) organized the first FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930.
Since then, this perennial tournament has been held, except during the Second World War. Basically, this competition involves international sectional tournaments that culminate into an ultimate elimination event comprised of 32 national teams.
Over 200 teams across the globe participate in this elimination process that spans for two years. Continue reading to understand the history of the FIFA World Cup.
The Beginnings of the FIFA World Cup
In 1928, FIFA opted to hold its international competition. During the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, football was excluded from the program because it was less prevalent in the United States, and the IOC and FIFA differed on the state of amateur players.
Jules Rimet, the then FIFA president, thought about organizing the inaugural World Cup Competition.
Uruguay hosted the 1930 FIFA World Cup. It was costly and time consuming for soccer teams, especially those from the European countries to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Uruguay.
However, Rimet successfully convinced the Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, France, and Belgium soccer teams to travel to Uruguay two months before the tournament. Eventually, 13 nations participated in the tournament. In the finals, Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2.
Italy hosted the 1934 FIFA World Cup, which was the first World Cup tournament to introduce a qualification stage.
For this tournament, 16 national soccer teams qualified, and some of them remained sustained until the 1982 finals’ competition expansion. Uruguay, the 1930 title holders, was still disappointed with the European nations’ poor attendance.
Hence, they did not participate in the 1934 FIFA World Cup. Also, Paraguay and Bolivia boycotted, which enabled Brazil and Argentina to reach the finals without playing any qualification match.
Egypt was the first African national soccer team to participate, but Hungary defeated them in the first round. Eventually, Italy emerged as winners. Making them the first European national soccer team to win the FIFA World Cup tournament.
France hosted the 1938 FIFA World Cup. To the dismay of most South Americans, Argentina and Uruguay boycotted. For the first instance, the host country’s title holders attained the automatic qualification.
Eventually, Italy retained their title after defeating Hungary in the finals. Also, Ernest Wilimowski, the Polish striker, scored four goals in a FIFA World Cup game, and his record was later shattered in 1994.
The Cancellation of the FIFA World Cup due to the Second World War
The FIFA World Cup was scheduled to occur in 1942. Officially, Germany applied to host the FIFA World Cup tournament of 1942 during the 23rd FIFA Congress held in Berlin on 13 August 1936.
However, September 1939 hostilities in Europe led to the cancellation of the 1942 FIFA World Cup even before the host country was chosen. Therefore, the FIFA World Cup event did not take place.
FIFA struggled for survival during the Second World War because of its lack of personnel and resources to schedule a peacetime tournament after the battles have ended. After World War II, FIFA held its first meeting on July 1, 1996, which was around the period when the 1946 FIFA World Cup tournament would have taken place.
After World War II, the FIFA World Cup resumed with Brazil hosting the 1950 FIFA World Cup, the first tournament played by British participants. Nevertheless, the English did not reach the final group round after their loss to the United States of 1-0.
Uruguay participated in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, but for political reasons, some Eastern European nations like Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Hungary did not attend. The 1950 FIFA World Cup was the only competition that did not stage a final tie to substitute knockout rounds with two group phases.
Switzerland hosted the 1954 FIFA World Cup, which was also the first tournament to be televised. However, the Soviet Union did not play due to their bad 1952 Summer Olympics’ performance.
For the first time, Scotland appeared in the tournament but got disqualified in the group stages.
The 1954 FIFA World Cup registered some unsurpassed goals-scoring records like a highest-scoring team, and most average goals per game (Hungary), and most goals in one match (Austria’s win over Switzerland of 7-5).
West Germany defeated Hungary 3-2, becoming the winners of the 1954 FIFA World Cup tournament.
Sweden hosted the 1958 World Cup, and Brazil became the first national soccer team to win a World Cup in a foreign continent. Also, all the four British soccer teams made it to the final round. Eventually, Wales defeated Israel 2-0 in the finals.
The 1962 FIFA World Cup tournament took place in Chile. Sadly, two years to the competition, the biggest ever earthquake struck, compelling officials to rebuild their damaged infrastructure. When the tournament started, Brazil’s Pelé and the Soviet Union’s Lev Yashin were nursing injuries. Hence, the Soviet Union lost to Chile.
However, the competition got ruined by overly violent and defensive techniques, and this toxic atmosphere ended up in the Battle of Santiago. In the finals, Brazil defeated Czechoslovakia 3-1, for the second FIFA World Cup competition in a row and retained their title.
In 1966, England hosted the FIFA World Cup, a time when the tournament first embraced marketing and featured the first mascot and executive logo.
South Africa received a ban from participating in the competition due to their divisive and discriminating apartheid. This ban remained active until 1992 when FIFA finally accepted the South African Football Association.
In this tournament, North Korea emerged the first Asian nation to make it to the finals, removing Italy in the competition. England won the 1996 FIFA World Cup with their 4-2 win against West Germany.
The 1970 FIFA World Cup coincided with Honduras versus El Salvador football war. Mexico hosted the finals. Although Europe had been with Israel, their political disagreements made it difficult to place them intolerably qualifying rounds.
They ended up in the Asia/Oceania and Korea feared to face them because they could get an automatic disqualification. The group stage clash between Brazil and England, the defending champions, was tense as expected. During this match, Gordon Banks, England’s goalkeeper saved Pelé’s header; one of the best save of all time.
The 1970 FIFA World Cup is also famous for its semi-final between West Germany and Italy. Since Germany had exhausted their permitted substitutions, Franz Beckenbauer had to play with a broken arm, and five goals were scored during the extra time.
In this match, Italy defeated West Germany 4-3. However, they were beaten 1-4 by Brazil, who had now won three World Cups, hence were prized with the permanent Jules Rimet Trophy for their triumph.
The 1974 FIFA World Cup hosted in Germany had a new trophy. Following their draw in their first UEFA intercontinental play-off against Chile, the Soviet Union boycott a return fixture with Chile due to political reasons and Chile was awarded the victory according to regulations.
Also, Zaire, Australia, Haiti, and West Germany made it to the finals for the first time. A new format got introduced in the tournament – two top teams from each of the former four groups were categorized into groups of four, then the winner from both groups met in the final. West Germany, the host, won the tournament with their 2-1 win against the Netherlands.
Argentina hosted the 1978 FIFA World Cup, which caused controversy since a military coup had occurred in the country during the previous two years. Allegedly, Johan Cruyff, the Dutch star declined to take part due to political convictions that he refuted 30 years later.
The 1978 FIFA World Cup was the hardest since 95 teams were battling for 14 places. However, the hosts and the record holders qualified automatically.
Tunisia and Iran participated for the first time with Tunisia winning their first match against Mexico 3-1, which made them the first African soccer team to win a World Cup match. In the finals, Argentina won 3-1 against the Dutch who took the second position for the second time in a row.
Spain hosted the expanded 1982 FIFA World Cup featuring 24 teams. This tournament was the first in which the teams expanded since the 1934 expansion, and the teams got categorized into six groups comprising of four teams.
The winners from each group proceeded to the finals. Eventually, Italy won the tournament with their 4-1 win against West Germany.
In 1986, Colombia refused to host the FIFA World Cup making Mexico the first country to host two world cups. During this tournament, the format changed—the second round got replaced by the pre-quarterfinal knockout playoffs in which 16 soccer teams would play.
While ensuring absolute fairness, the final two matches were played simultaneously. Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the finals due to Diego Maradona’s influence.
Italy hosted the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Cameroon, taking part in the World Cup for the second time made it to the quarterfinals, making them the first African team to reach the finals.
Mexico did not participate due to their two-year ban age deception at a youth competition. The finals featured the 1986 finalists, and West Germany beat Argentina 1-0.
In 1994, The United States hosted the FIFA World Cup. That was the first World cup to be decided based on penalties. The tournament saw the largest attendance ever in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
When the competition was midway, Diego Maradona received a ban after testing positive for recreational drugs. In the penalties, Brazil beat Italy 2-0.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup hosted in France had an expanded format consisting of 32 teams. France, the hosts, beat Brazil 3-0, a loss attributed to Ronaldo’s health problems.
For the first time, the 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in Asia with Japan and South Korea jointly hosting the tournament. Souleymane Mamam, a 13-year-old Togolese player, became the youngest player to ever participate in a FIFA World Cup preliminary game. In the finals, Brazil defeated Germany 2-0.
In 2006, Germany hosted the World Cup. This tournament initiated the rule that the defending champion of the world cup had to qualify, in this case, Brazil. Furthermore, four African teams represented their continent for the first time.
France and Italy contested the final match, with the captain of the former team, Zinedine Zidane ended up receiving matching orders in extra time for in disciplinary action on his opponent. Since the two finalists drew, they had to go for a penalty shootout in which Italy won 5-3.
South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, the first time the FIFA World Cup organizers considered holding the tournament on African soil.
The highlights of the championships included the now famous ‘vuvuzelas’ and the introduction of the goal-line technology in spite of the controversies surrounding it.
In the finals, Spain beat Netherlands 1-0. In 2014, Brazil hosted the World Cup for the second time, and this was the first time cooling breaks got introduced.
Also, to prevent phantom goals, the organizers introduced sensors. Brazil was humiliated by Germany who went on to be crowned champions after defeating Argentina in the finals.
In 2018, Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the first World Cup to be hosted in Eastern Europe. France won the finals after beating Croatia 4-2.
Furthermore, this was the first time the video assistant referee system got used. Luka Modric, a Croatian footballer, was awarded the golden ball while Kylian Mbappé won the best young player award. Harry Kane, an England player, won the golden boot.
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup since the tournament will be held from 21 November 2022 to 18 December 2022. This next competition will be the first FIFA World Cup tournament that will not occur during the summer.