Football's greatest competition on earth, the FIFA World Cup is more than just a competition between nations around the world. Over the years, this event has seen some amazing twists and turns while fans have enjoyed the spectacle. From potentially career-defining wins to heartbreaking losses against tough oppositions, the FIFA events in the past have had everything.
So, as the competition edges closer again with teams preparing to battle it out for the first time in a winter world cup in Qatar, perhaps it is time we discuss the history of the FIFA World Cup in order to understand the ongoing legacy of world football.
When Was The First FIFA World Cup Held?
The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 when FIFA decided to stage its own global competition. The decision came after the 1932 Olympic Games, which were to be held in Los Angeles, decided not to include football as part of their program. The reason that was given by the Olympics was the low popularity of the sport in the USA.
Hence, that's how the world cup came into existence. The President of FIFA then, Jules Rimet decided to host the inaugural competition and chose two-time official champions Uruguay as the host nation. This was a world cup that saw 12 teams compete with each other. There were seven teams from South America, 4 European nations, and two North American nations that participated in the world cup.
In fact, the final of the first-ever FIFA World Cup was watched by 93,000 people when host nation Uruguay defeated Argentina by four goals to two to become the first nation to win the world cup.
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When Was The Qualification Stage Included In The FIFA World Cup?
1934 was the year when the second world cup took place and was hosted by Italy. While 12 teams participated in the first-ever FIFA World Cup, the 1934 World Cup saw 16 teams compete with each other. This was, indeed the first time when the qualification stage was included in the competition.
However, there were certain notable facts around this world cup.
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Uruguay Boycotted The Competition
Winners of the first-ever world cup, Uruguay were upset about the poor European attendance during the first world cup which was held in their own backyard, and thus, decided to boycott the 1934 World Cup. Interestingly, nations like Bolivia and Paraguay were also absent from the world cup.
Their absence handed a chance to teams like Argentina and Brazil to flourish in the competition. In fact, both Argentina and Brazil didn't have to play a single qualifying match and got entry into the finals directly owing to the absence of certain teams. However, it was Italy that had the better of every team as the side went on to become the first European team to win the FIFA World Cup.
Joy For Egypt
The absence of certain teams not only helped like Argentina and Brazil qualify but also gave a chance to Egypt to compete. The side became the first-ever African nation to compete in the world cup and went on to challenge until the last round of the competition.
The 1942 World Cup
After a consecutive triumph for Italy in the 1938 World Cup, it was time for the 1942 World Cup to take place and both Germany and Brazil applied to host the world cup. However, things were set to take a dramatic turn in September of 1939 when European hostilities grew to unprecedented levels.
The result? Well, FIFA was forced to cancel the 1942 World Cup without even selecting the host nation for the next world cup. The world stood on the brink of World War ll, and so it proved to be.
During the war, the struggle for FIFA was notable as the body had no resources with which to plan a peacetime tournament. In fact, the first meeting of FIFA, after the war was over, took place in 1946 when the aim was to host the world cup in 1949. However, no country would host the world cup at that time, and the competition came to a halt until the 1950s.
World Cups in the 21st Century
The 21st century has seen five world cups so far and is ready for number sixth in Qatar. Let's take a look at where the last five world cups were held.
2002 World Cup
The 2002 World Cup was the first world cup of the 21st century and was held in Asia. The competition was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan which saw Brazil lift the title by beating Germany in the final. The competition is also famous for the earliest ever goal in any world cup when Hakan Sukur, the Turkish player scored in just 11 seconds.
2006 World Cup
The 2006 World Cup was hosted by Germany and was the first world cup in which the winner of the last competition also had to play qualifying matches. The final match-up was held between France and Italy in which Italy eventually came out as the winner in the penalty shootout.
The World Cup is more famous for one of the craziest moments in history that came in the final itself when Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the last few moments of the extra time for a headbutt on Italian defender Marco Materazzi.
2010 World Cup
The 2010 World Cup was the first-ever world cup on African Soil. The competition was won by Spain and was more famed for its highly defensive opening round of fixtures. The notable thing about this world cup was the goal-line technology that came under fire due to some controversial decisions.
2014 World Cup
Hosted by Brazil for the second time, the 2014 World Cup was a rollercoaster ride for other teams apart from Germany who stood out and went on to lift the title after a long wait. In fact, Germany handed Brazil its heaviest defeat in a world cup ever when the two teams met in the semi-finals. The German side hammered 7 goals past a Brazilian side that had no answers whatsoever.
The world cup was also notable because of the fact that cooling breaks between matches were introduced for the first time owing to the high ambient temperatures in Brazil.
2018 World Cup
The latest of all world cups so far, the 2018 World tournament was hosted by Russia which was, in fact, the first-ever cup to be held in Eastern Europe. France were eventual winners for the competition when they defeated Croatia in the final.
Interestingly, this was the first world cup in which Video Assistant Referring (VAR) System was used, and that too at a greater deal.
What Is Special About The Upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022?
Finally, to the last and the latest one about to come, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be hosted by Qatar in the winter of 2022. While being the first-ever world cup to be held in the Middle-East, the upcoming competition is also special in many other ways. Let's take a look at some of the facts around it.
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First-Ever Winter World Cup
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar will officially be the first-ever winter world cup in the Northern Hemisphere. Usually, right since the world cup began in 1930, it takes place in June and July in the Southern Hemisphere. However, owing to the summer conditions in Qatar, FIFA has moved the world cup to winter, making it the first-ever winter world cup in the Northern Hemisphere.
Smallest Ever Country To Host The Competition
Qatar will, in fact, be the smallest ever country to host the FIFA World Cup. The country is an estimated 1478 times smaller than the size of Russia who hosted the last world cup. Hence, this would certainly be fascinating as the venues will be closely located and carnival scenes would be telling in a small space.
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Fewest Ever Stadiums
Not only will the world cup be held in a small country like Qatar, but the competition would take place in the fewest number of stadiums with only eight venues being lined up for the whole tournament. Out of all the eight stadiums, seven will be newly constructed while each stadium will have air-conditioning facility owing to the day temperatures in the country.
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Most Commutable World Cup Ever
Being a small country, traveling within Qatar isn't a big hassle. In fact, the upcoming world cup will be the most commutable ever considering the size of the country and the fact that each venue is located in close proximity to the other. Take an example of the two most remotely located stadiums, for instance. The Al Bayt Stadium and Al Wakrah Stadium are only 90 miles apart from each other.
Likewise, the Education City Stadium is located only 51 minutes away Bahrain through high-speed rail network. The Doha metro network too connect each venue along the way and will ferrying an estimated one million visitors during the world cup.
Record Number Of Flights
The Hamad International Airport and Qatar Airways are set to join hands to bring in a staggering 1300 flights into the country on a daily basis for the whole month. The decision has been taken to allow visitors to book a flight to Qatar without much hassle. In fact, as per geographical experts, the number of visitors may even be higher than the estimated 1.2-1.5 million.
Most Expensive World Cup By Far
Not only will the upcoming FIFA event in Qatar be the first-ever in winter, but it will also be the most expensive world cup in history ever. The country is spending an estimated $200 billion USD on infrastructural projects ahead of the competition which includes the construction of roads, stadiums, highways, hotels, setting up of street lights and so much more.
Alcohol To Be Served In Fan Zones
That's right, Qatar is a country that follows the Islamic law and consumption of alcohol on the streets and in public places is strictly prohibited there. On the other hand, alcohol is a pivotal part of footballing culture around the world and fans coming to the stadiums do expect to sip a glass or two of beer while they watch their favorite team play.
Hence, Qatar may well set up specific establishments as fan zones where alcohol will be served to the fans at less than half the prices. This will, indeed, be a huge achievement if Qatar manages to keep the stock up.
While the history of the FIFA World Cup has many twists and turns, the competition has evolved with time and more advancements and rules have come and played their part. From the beginning of qualifying matches to the arrival of Goal Line Technology and Video Assistant Referring System, technology and coming together of nations have played a major role in making what the world cup is today, a grand spectacle that every football fan awaits for four years.
As for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, the fact that this will be the first-ever winter world cup and the first-ever in the Middle-East makes it special enough, and the excitement amongst the fans is telling.
1930 was the year when the first-ever world cup took place in Uruguay, and the host nation won it.
There have been 21 world cups so far which have been won by eight teams till date with Brazil winning five times.
The full form of FIFA is Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Britain was the country where modern football originated in the 19th century.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in the Middle-East for the first time ever, and will be hosted by Qatar.