It’s almost that time of year when people from all over the world unite for the FIFA World Cup. It’s a chance for players to rise to the occasion and make a name for themselves on the biggest stage possible. Just ask James Rodríguez.
However, this year’s men’s World Cup is like no other.
For the first time ever, the World Cup will be played in November and December which falls in the middle of many countries’ own football seasons. All previous editions of the World Cup have been played between the end of May to the end of July.
So, why is it being held at the end of the year?
The tournament is being held in Qatar. The weather in the middle of the year is described as ’sweltering heat’. Players would severely struggle in these conditions, therefore, it’s being held towards the end of the year when the weather in Qatar is milder.
The history of the men’s FIFA World Cup
Since the first men’s World Cup, there have been so many magical moments, controversial decisions, records made, and records broken. From Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘hand of God’ moment to Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ against Germany, these are just a couple of moments that come to fans’ minds. Now, it’s time to journey through the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup.
The first World Cup took place over 90 years ago in Uruguay, after it was organised by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). In 1930, there were only 13 teams featured in the competition with host nation Uruguay becoming the inaugural champions.
Italy would become the first back-to-back champions, initially winning the tournament in 1934 and then retaining it in 1938, before experiencing a 12 year break. Subsequently, this winning streak has made Italy the longest reigning champion of all time!
The World Cup occurs every four years, however, there were no World Cups in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II. The tournament was resurrected in 1950, to the joy of many.
Since the reintroduction of the men’s World Cup, there have only been eight nations to clinch the title and proclaim their nation champions of the world in football. The countries that have won this title include:
- Brazil (five titles – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002)
- Germany (four titles – 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014)
- Italy (four titles – 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006)
- Argentina (two titles – 1978 and 1986)
- France (two titles – 1998 and 2018)
- Uruguay (two titles – 1930 and 1950)
- England (one title – 1966)
- Spain (one title – 2010).
Brazil vs Germany
There are so many men’s World Cup records, with players and countries striving to carve their name in football history. One of those players who has recently etched their name into the history books is German striker Miroslav Klose. Klose holds the record for being the top goal scorer of all time, with 16 goals.
In 2014, he broke the previous men’s record of 15 goals, which was held by the legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo Nazário. Klose scored his final goal in one of the most unforgettable games of all time; Germany’s destruction of Brazil in their home nation, winning 7-1 in the semi-finals of the 2014 men’s World Cup. This win led to Germany becoming the first non-South American team to win the World Cup in Latin America.
Brazil holds the record for most wins in men’s World Cup history, with 73 wins under their belt. However, Germany is not far behind, with a total of 67 wins. Both Brazil and Germany hold the record for most matches played, with 109 games each.
These two teams are two of the powerhouses of the men’s competition, but there is so much more to the World Cup than just Brazil and Germany.
Fun facts about the World Cup
While the World Cup is usually dominated by the bigger nations and superstars, there are so many different nations and individual players that have been featured on the world stage. There has been a total of 79 teams to play at the World Cup, with 20 of those teams only appearing once.
Want to know more about the men’s World Cup? Here are some fun facts!
- South Korea holds the record for the furthest an Asian team has progressed in the men’s World Cup, reaching the semi-finals in 2002 trouncing star-studded teams like Portugal, Spain, and Italy. It was the ultimate underdog story many fans will never forget.
- South Africa holds the unfortunate record of becoming the first host nation to be knocked out in the group stages, but they remain in many people’s hearts and memories for that goal and celebration by Tshabalala. Bafana Bafana! Goal for South Africa! Goal for all Africa!
- Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup when they did so in 2018.
- Neither Cristiano Ronaldo (Portuguese) nor Lionel Messi (Argentinian), two of the most iconic stars of men’s football, have ever been a part of a team that has won the World Cup.
- The World Cup was originally named ‘Victory’. It was officially renamed the FIFA World Cup in 1946.
- The 2026 World Cup will feature 48 countries for the first time in history. Previously, only 32 teams were able to qualify.
There are so many more historical facts and moments that deserve to be covered, like the most iconic red card of all time, where French icon Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italy’s Marco Materazzi ultimately leading to Italy winning the World Cup in 2006.
The list goes on for all the moments, emotions, unbelievable goals, and legendary saves we have all experienced watching the World Cup.
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