The Start of the World Cup
The very first World Cup took place in 1930 in Uruguay, South America and was contested by 13 teams that were all invited to the new tournament.
The path to that first World Cup had been long and often arduous for the organisers FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the international body for the game, established in 1904.
The roots of the international game began in the United Kingdom with Scotland and England playing the first recorded international match in 1877. The nations of the United Kingdom continued to play each other on an ad-hoc basis. However with the establishment of FIFA came a desire to have a truly international tournament.
The Olympic Games to a certain extent was the first major international tournament and football was introduced at the Games from 1900 onwards. However, the players were all amateurs and therefore the tournament could not exactly be recognised as representing the best players in the world.
In 1909 the Lipton tournament, founded by Scottish tea merchant Sir Thomas Lipton began to represent players from both the amateur and professional game. Incidentally England refused to compete in that tournament so Bishop Auckland FC went in their place and promptly won the competition in Turin, Italy twice.
But after all this FIFA got involved and the World Cup was born to formalise and bring teams together every four years on a global basis.
Early World Cup Tournaments
The World Cup in 1930 featured only 18 matches between 13 teams to determine who was the best team on the planet. Uruguay were chosen as the hosts as they were thought to be the best team in the world after winning gold at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Only Yugoslavia, Belgium, France and Romania sent teams from Europe due to the hardships associated with travelling to South America at the time. Uruguay went on to triumph at the tournament, defeating neighbours Argentina 4-2 in the final.
In 1934 the tournament first set foot in Europe, in Italy. The champions Uruguay did not send a team in protest at the lack of European teams who had entered their tournament four years earlier. This was the first tournament where qualification was required. Once again the hosts were triumphant, this time Italy beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final after extra time.
Only one more World Cup was possible before the breakout of the Second World War, hosted in France and won again by Italy. The next edition would not be for a further 12 years in Brazil.
Top World Cup Teams
Brazil have won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation with the first in 1958 and the last in 2002. The World Cup has projected a vision of Brazil as incredibly skilful individuals in a free-flowing team that have captured the imagination of the world. None more so than Pele. Arguably the world's best ever player, Pele lifted the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Germany and Italy have both won the World Cup four times. Germany, known as West Germany for their first three World Cup successes won their first World Cup in 1954 and their last in 2014. With a firm rivalry with England, the Germans were defeated by England in the 1966 World Cup Final but knocked England out on penalties on the way to winning the 1990 World Cup. Italy's four World Cups came between 1934 and 2006 and having won the second and third editions had to wait until 1982 for their third inspired by the controversial Paulo Rossi.
Other winners include Argentina (2), France (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), Spain (1).
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
The 2018 World Cup in Russia was contested between 32 teams with Panama and Iceland making their debut in the competition.
The hosts Russia progressed to the quarter-finals before being beaten by the eventual finalists Croatia on a penalty shoot-out. Croatia would beat England in the semi-finals before losing 4-2 to France in Moscow in the final.
France, inspired by the best young player at the tournament Kylian Mbappe, were widely acknowledged to be worthy winners. Raphael Varane was outstanding at centre-half and Antoine Griezmann was a perfect forward partner for Mbappe.
England lost to Belgium in the third-fourth place play-off, with Harry Kane, the tournament's golden boot winner unable to add to his tally of six.
With packed stadiums, free train travel for fans and a carnival atmosphere Russia brushed off criticism in the build-up about various topical political issues and the finals were deemed a success leading into the next finals in Qatar.
World Cup 2022 (Qatar 2022 / FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022)
Qatar was awarded the rights to hold the World Cup in 2022 back in 2010 and since then have endured a rocky ride of human rights criticism relating to treatment of migrant workers and the climate in the middle east during the summers. Therefore the tournament was moved to later in the year when the climate is not as ferocious.
Four stadiums are based near the capital Doha, so travelling for teams based there will be limited. Stadiums include the Lusail Stadium (Lusail), the Al Thumama Stadium (Doha), the Khalifa International Stadium (Al Rayyan).
Despite these criticisms 32 nations will gear up for the tournament in the middle of many domestic football seasons. Fans will be checking the exchange rates of Qatari riyals.
So far the following teams have qualified as well as Qatar as hosts; Germany, Denmark, Brazil, France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, Netherlands, Argentina, Iran and South Korea. 17 nations will qualify via the qualifying process.
The opening match and group stage process will kick-off on 21st November 2022.
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