FIFA World Cup 2006 : [ Latest News ] [ Schedules ] [ Groups ] [ Venues ][ TV Schedule ]
Soccer World Cup Index
Fair Play Award
FIFA World Cup History
The World Cup was not the first international football competition. Amateur football became a part of the official Olympic programme for the first time in 1908 (See: Football at the 1908 Summer Olympics). In Turin in 1909, in what is sometimes described as The First World Cup, Sir Thomas Lipton organised a football tournament to contest the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy. Italy, Germany and Switzerland sent their most prestigious professional club sides to the competition but The Football Association of England refused to be associated with it and declined the offer to send a team. Not wishing to have Britain unrepresented in the competition, Lipton invited West Auckland FC, an amateur side from the north-east of England and mostly made up of coal miners, to take part. West Auckland won the tournament and returned to Italy in 1911 to defend their title.
In the second competition West Auckland beat Juventus 6-1 in the final and were awarded the trophy outright. In the Olympic games of 1924 and 1928, Uruguay won the football gold medal, in what was considered a proto-world cup. Unofficialy, FIFA recognized Uruguay as World Champion. These victories led the FIFA to choose Uruguay as the home of the first FIFA sanctioned World Cup.
In 1927 the 1932 Summer Olympics were awarded to Los Angeles in the United States where the popularity of American football far surpassed that of the international game of association football (by then becoming known as soccer in the US). The general lack of interest from the Americans and a disagreement between FIFA and the IOC over the status of amateur players led to football being dropped from the official Olympic programme for the 1932 games. As a consequence, Jules Rimet, who had become president of FIFA in 1921, set about organising the inaugural World Cup tournament, to take place in Uruguay in 1930.
The national associations of selected nations were invited to send a team but the choice of Uruguay as a venue for the competition meant a long and costly trip across the Atlantic for European sides and up until two months before the start of the competition no team from that continent had promised to send a team. Rimet eventually persuaded teams representing Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia to make the trip. In total, thirteen nations took part - seven from South America, four from Europe and two from North America. Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in front of crowd of 93,000 in Montevideo to become the first nation to win the World Cup trophy. In 1946 the World Cup trophy (Coupe du Monde) was renamed the Jules Rimet trophy in his honour.
In 1970, Brazil's third victory in the tournament entitled them to keep the original trophy and a new trophy was then designed. Argentina, Germany (both times as West Germany), and Brazil have all won the second trophy twice. However, the current trophy will not be retired until the name plaque has been entirely filled with the names of winning nations. This will not happen until 2038. Brazil, by a clear margin, is the most successful World Cup team overall, having won the tournament five times in total and finished as runners-up twice. Brazil is also the only nation to have participated in every World Cup so far. Germany, three-time winners (as West Germany) and four-time runners-up (three times as West Germany), are next, while Italy have also won three trophies and two-time runners-up. Argentina and Uruguay are both two-time World Champions, although Uruguay's two successes came rather a long time ago, in the early years of the tournament. England (1966 World Cup) and France (1998 World Cup) have both won the title once.
To date, the final of the World Cup has only been contested by European and/or South American teams. The greatest success of a North American team was reaching the semi-finals. This was achieved by the USA at the 1930 World Cup. The first Asian teams to make it to the semi-finals was at the 2002 World Cup, when South Korea and Turkey both did this (Turkey is however a member of the UEFA, and thus sometimes considered a European country when it comes to football). Two African teams have reached the quarter-finals: Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup and Senegal in 2002. The only visits of teams from Oceania in the finals tournament ended in the first round: Australia at the 1974 World Cup and New Zealand in the 1982 World Cup.
The next World Cup finals will be held in Germany, in 2006. As indicated below, the 2010 World Cup will be held in South Africa. The 2014 World Cup, which FIFA has earmarked for South America, is expected to be held in Brazil as CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation, has already backed it as their choice. For the 2018 finals, Netherlands and Belgium have expressed interest in holding the finals jointly, and England have also expressed a possibility of bidding for the prestigious event.