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The Saga of FIFA World Cup

The world’s first international football match was played in Glasgow in 1872 between Scotland and England. Since then, several events occurred during the tumultuous course of football history

by Kolkata Today

The world’s first international football match was played in Glasgow in 1872 between Scotland and England. Since then, several events occurred during the tumultuous course of football history, leading to what is currently considered the biggest football tournament in the world—the FIFA World Cup.
An international association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the federation international de football Association FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, it has been organized every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930. The equivalent event for the women’s national football teams is the Women’s World Cup. The FIFA organization was founded in 1904 by the representatives of seven European countries: France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. They codified the rules of the game in international matches and organized competitions. The competition consists of international sectional tournaments leading to a final elimination event made up of 32 national teams. Unlike Olympic football, World Cup teams are not limited to players of a certain age or amateur status, so the competition serves nearly as a contest between the world’s best players. Referees are selected from lists that are submitted by all the international associations. Originally, the trophy cup that was awarded from 1930 to 1970 was the Jules Rimet Trophy, named after the Frenchman who proposed the tournament. This cup was permanently awarded in 1970 to the then three-time winner, Brazil (1958, 1962, and 1970), and the new trophy, called the FIFA World Cup, was put up for the competition from 1974 onward. One noticeable aspect of world cup history is that the home team has always been over performing. On six occasions have the home teams that normally don’t compete with the greatest teams have gone far in the tournament than playing on home ground. For example, Sweden, in 1958, reaching the finals and South Korea, in 2006, reaching the semifinals.
Besides the World Cup that is awarded to the winning team, several other awards are also distributed. Among these, the most well-known is the Golden Ball that is awarded to the best player in a FIFA World Cup. The Golden Ball is followed by the Silver Ball and Bronze Ball awarded to the second and third most outstanding players in the tournament, respectively. Candidates are decided by FIFA, which the media representatives vote on. The Golden Boot is awarded to the top goal scorer and the Golden Glove, to best goalkeeper. The total prize money for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 was $791 million, with the winners receiving $35 million, which can be compared to the prize money of $20 million during the FIFA World Cup of 1982.
No other sport event can compete in significance to this tournament that represents a whole country; the latest FIFA World Cup reached over three billion television viewers worldwide, and one billion people watched the finals. Currently, the tournament averages to 3.2 billion viewers. That’s just 400 million less than the Olympics. Around the world, people gather in coffee shops, sports bars, and other public establishments to share in the triumphs and defeats of their favorite teams. The energy of such a crowd is truly exhilarating as the echoes of their cheers and songs can be heard for miles on the local streets.
The FIFA organization did not originally envision hosting a World cup. Olympic football competitions already existed as an event every four years, and these were given the most prestige. But, in 1920, the game was facing a transition to professionalism that wasn’t consistent with the olympic spirit. Amid tense and ongoing debates between FIFA and the International Olympic Committee regarding the amateur status of athletes, FIFA elected to host their own international competition, allowing national teams to select players from local professional football clubs. The decision of arranging the first edition was officially declared on May 26, 1928. The first World Cup tournament occurred in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay among 13 total teams. This location was selected because Uruguay had won the Olympic gold for soccer in 1924 and 1928, and many extravagant celebrations were already planned in honor of the country’s 100th anniversary. Unfortunately, only four European nations attended owing to the economic troubles in Europe and players’ fears of losing their day job if they took too much off for the games. The first World Cup tournament match was played on July 13. By the end of the tournament, after measuring the skills of the 13 competing teams, Uruguay held the trophy for the first ever world cup victory. This trophy would be retroactively named in honor of the FIFA president. The games have continued every four years to this day with the exception of two scheduled competitions to be held in the years 1942 and 1946, which were canceled owing to the second world war. The games would not be held again until the year 1950, when Uruguay won for the second time in World cup history. No country outside of Europe or South America has ever won the World cup. Brazil won 5 times, Germany, 4 times, Italy, 4 times, Uruguay, 2 times, Argentina, 2 times, England, once, France, once, and Spain, once. Presently, the FIFA 2022 men’s football championship contested by the senior national teams of the member associations of FIFA is scheduled to take place in Qatar from 20th November to 18th December, 2022. This will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world, and the second to be held entirely in Asia after the 2022 tournament in South Korea and Japan. In addition, the tournament is scheduled to be the last one with 32 teams field; the field is slated to increase to 48 teams for the 2026 tournament in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The final match will be held on 18th December, 2022 which is also Qatar National Day. An important aspect and attraction of this World Cup would be the Argentine football super star Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo as it will be the last FIFA World Cup for them.

List of all FIFA World Cup winners:

1930 – Uruguay

1934 – Italy

1938 – Italy

1950 – Uruguay

1954 – West Germany

1958 – Brazil

1962 – Brazil

1966 – Engalnd

1970 – Brazil

1974 – West Germany

1978 – Argentina

1982 – Italy

1986 – Argentina

1990 – West Germany

1994 – Brazil

1998 – France

2002 – Brazil

2006 – Italy

2010 – Spain

2014 – Germany

2018 – France

By Swaroopa Mitra

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