Football, or soccer as its referred to in several parts of the world is the biggest spectator sport on the globe and no event gains more attention that the FIFA World Cup. Held every 4 years, each time in a different host country, the soccer World Cup has a rich and illustrious history that’s spans over a century.
The most recent FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil in 2014 and saw Germany take home the trophy, followed by runners up, Argentina. As current world champions, Germany hopes to retain their spot at the top when they take to the field in 2018 in Russia. 2018 will be the first time the FIFA World Cup has ever been held in the former Soviet Union and anticipation for the event is already enormous, with stadiums and facilities being erected especially to host the matches, players and spectators.
Beginnings of FIFA
FIFA, which stands for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association was founded on the 21 May 1904 in the headquarters of the Union Française de Sports Athlétiques, in Paris. Representatives from France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain signed the association’s first act and the FIFA statutes were laid down for the first time.
Today, FIFA is recognized as the global football governing body and is headed up by Sepp Blatter, a sometimes-controversial figure who has served as the 8th president since 1998. Since the inaugural tournament held in 1930 the FIFA World Cup has been played every four years, except when it was halted during 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War.
Inaugural FIFA World Cup
The first soccer world cup was held in Uruguay at the newly opened, purpose-built Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. Heralding a new era for football, the 18th of July 1930 saw the first kick off of a tournament that was to grow from strength to strength over the years. Uruguay emerged as the very first World Cup victors and their soccer-playing prowess was simply unbeatable.
13 Teams took part in the first FIFA World Cup, with 7 from South America, 4 from Europe and 2 from North America. Several European teams declined to enter due to the distance required to be travelled to reach Uruguay, something that upset the home team so much,bingo for money, they refused to participate in the tournament four years later, making history as the first winning team not to try and defend their title.
In its current form, the FIFA World Cup has a qualification phase in which teams must vie for a place in the tournament. This phase takes place over 3 years and sees a selection of 31 eligible teams. The host nation’s team is automatically included in the line-up, making a total of 32 countries all competing for the title.
The FIFA World Cup takes place over approximately a month and during this time teams are separated into pools and must play one another to earn points. Those with the most points then on go on to play each other, resulting in a quarterfinal, semi final and final match pair up.
Not only is the soccer World Cup a huge success in sporting terms, it’s also proven to be a financial boon for any country that hosts it, as it encourages tourism and offers massive publicity and a boost in visitor numbers. With the football World Cup being the most watched event on the planet, its no wonder that countries bid enthusiastically to host this tournament.