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The World Cup

The history of the World Cup

Image: Nomi2626 /

2022 marks the 22nd World Cup tournament and the first time we’ve had to wait until the end of the year to see how it pans out. Qatar 2022 is a winter World Cup and represents a radical shift from what we think of when it comes to international football tournaments. In anticipation of the tournament which kicks off on 20 November, let’s take the chance to look back over this hugely popular tournament.

Before the World Cup

Before the first official World Cup, there were other prestigious football competitions. The football tournament arranged as part of the Summer Olympics was considered the most prestigious of all. However, things began to change in the 1920s as football moved into a more professional field, not in keeping with the spirit of the Olympics. The governing body, FIFA, began making plans to make their own world football organisation and plans for the first World Cup were announced on May 26th, 1928.

The First Tournament

The first World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1930 with the first football matches taking place on July 13th, 1930. The tournament saw France beat Mexico with the USA beating Belgium. The competition saw the hosts Uruguay knock out their great rivals Argentina in the final to become the first nation ever crowned World Cup winners.

Since 1930, the competition has been held every four years except during the Second World War. The war led to a 12-year hiatus in the tournament, with it returning in 1950 in Brazil.

The first World Cup saw just 13 teams compete and in 1978 the number was upped to 16. From 1982, 24 teams made it to the finals of the tournament, and this was once again increased to 32 teams in 1998. The changes aren’t done as the format of the World Cup will significantly change from 2026, when FIFA plan to have 48 teams take part. We’ll have to wait and see how this affects the competition and what other changes will be necessary.

The Home Advantage

An interesting phenomenon seen since the beginning of the World Cup is the power of the home advantage. Home teams traditionally overperform, even in tournaments where it seems like they’d have no chance of success. Playing on home ground has a great effect on teams with standout examples including Sweden which reached the final in 1958 and South Korea which reached the semi-finals at home in 2002.

FIFA World Cup 2022

The FIFA World Cup is being held in the Middle East for the first time in 2022. Qatar beat off competition from many other bids, including the USA, to win the rights to hold the competition. In doing so it has meant many changes to what we usually expect from the World Cup. The biggest change is that the tournament is taking place in November and December. The extreme heat in Qatar makes it dangerous for the tournament to take place at any other time of year. For many fans and players, this means enjoying World Cup fever in a much more wintry climate than usual.

5 Top World Cup Facts

1. Fastest Goal goes to Turkey

The fastest goal in the history of the World Cup tournament was scored by Turkey. Turkey’s Hakan Sukur scored in just 11 seconds into their game against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. Other speedy strikes came from Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Masek (16 seconds) against Mexico in 1962 and Bryan Robson for England (27 seconds) against France in 1982.

2. Buckets of Beer

The 2010 World Cup held in South Africa saw over 3 million bottles of beer sold around the stadia. This equates to over 750,000 litres and while drinking in the stands isn’t allowed in the UK, this isn’t the case in other countries hosting the World Cup. It’s worth remembering Qatar has strict alcohol rules and while beer maybe sold in World Cup stadia, only non-alcoholic drinks are likely to be allowed when seated and watching the games.

3. No Tournament for Barefoot Players

Of all the strange requests FIFA has heard, India’s in 1950 must be one of the weirdest. The Indian national team withdrew from the 1950 World Cup as they were not allowed to play barefoot.

4. Beckenbauer Bounces Back

Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer is the only player in World Cup history to win the title both as a player and as a coach. In 1974 he was instrumental in his nation’s winning of the World Cup as a player and in 1990 he did the same as the coach of the team.

5. More Expensive than ever before

Qatar 2022 will be the most expensive World Cup in history. The host country has spent approximately $200bn on infrastructure projects and getting ready for the tournament. This makes it significantly more expensive than any previous tournament and we’re excited to see the show once it kicks off in November 2022.