Crash Course on World Cup history

 By Patricia Hului

000_mvd6445668.37ac4151722.w400IT IS THE SEASON for late nights, silence-breaking cheers, and some friendly (illegal?) betting. It is also the season when tears will be shed, laughter will break out and both arguments and judgments will be thrown more often than usual in day-to-day conversation. It is also the season for people to cheer for countries that are not their own.


I’m talking about the FIFA World Cup; an international association football competition participated by men’s national teams of the members of Federation international de Football Association (FIFA), football’s sport governing body.


Knowledge is power. So arm yourself with knowledge on World Cup history because – trust me – your social gatherings for the next one month will be about nothing else besides the FIFA World Cup.



FIFA’s first game ever


The first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 World Cup in Uruguay from July 13 to 30.


Why Uruguay? FIFA chose Uruguay as the host country as they were to celebrate the 100th year of their constitution in 1930 and their national football team had won the football title at the 1928 Summer Olympics.


Only 13 countries showed up for the game: seven from South America (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay), two from North America (USA and Mexico), and only four European nations (Yugoslavia, Romania, France and Belgium).


Some European teams declined to participate because of the length and cost of travel.


The final match of the first World Cup saw a battle between Uruguay and Argentina which Uruguay later won with 4-2.


But wait, here is a fun fact of about the final match of the first World Cup. Both Argentina and Uruguay were arguing on who should provide the match ball. In the end, FIFA intervened, Argentina provided the ball for the first half and Uruguay provided the ball for the second half. Problem solved.


The Asian Debut


When an Asian country did made its debut at FIFA World Cup? I thought Japan or South Korea was the first Asian representative to World Cup.


However, the Dutch East Indies or what we know as Indonesia today, was the first Asian representative.


Nonetheless, the country’s experience was short-lived after being defeated 6-0 by Hungary in the opening game in Reims, France. That was the only time Indonesia made it to the World Cup.


Our beloved Malaysia has been trying to qualify for World Cup since 1974, which makes that about 40 years of entering yet not qualifying.


No worries, we still have World Cup 2018 in Russia and World Cup 2022 in Qatar to look forward to.


The Mascot


It was in 1966 when the first FIFA World Cup came up with its own mascot.


World Cup Willie, the mascot for the 1966 tournament in England was a lion wearing a Union Flag jersey with the words ‘WORLD CUP’ on it.


Over the years, we’ve had an orange (‘Naranjito’, Spain 1982), a jalapeno pepper (‘Pique’, Mexico 1986), a dog (‘Striker’, US 1994) and even a rooster (‘Footix’, France 1998).


The World Cup Mascots are used for cartoon shows and merchandise advertising released during the tournament.


The Song


What is life without music? That includes football too. Did you know that the first time the FIFA World Cup had an official theme song was back in Chile in 1962, 32 years after the first tournament?


The first official anthem was called ‘El Rock Del Mundial’ in Spanish performed by Los Ramblers.



But I would be doomed for life if I didn’t mention Ricky Martin’s ‘Copa de la Vida’ or ‘The Cup of Life’ as the most catchy, memorable FIFA World Cup theme song in the history of the game.


Perhaps the words ‘Copa de la Vida’ don’t ring a bell for you, but I bet you remember,


“Here we go! Ale, ale, ale,
Go, go, go! Ale, ale, ale.”


This 1998 World Cup anthem had so much energy and was so catchy that everyone who heard it could not resist raising their hands and waving them over their heads whenever the chorus went over the airwaves.


The Winners


You can never run out of things to talk about when it comes to past winners so let’s break it down to some interesting facts, shall we?


The player who holds the record for the most goals in a single World Cup so far is Frenchman named Just Fontaine. He only participated in one World Cup in 1958 where he scored 13 goals. Talk about a one-hit wonder.


No one has surpassed his record… yet.


There are six awards given out at every World Cup: the Golden Ball for best player, the Golden Boot for top goal scorer, the Golden Glove Award for best goalkeeper, Best Young Player for the best player under 21 years old, FIFA Fair Play Trophy and Most Entertaining Team.


Since 1990, an All-Star Team has also been picked out comprising the best players of the tournament.


2002 marked a milestone in the history of World Cup when the Golden Ball was awarded to a goalkeeper for the first time. The winner, German captain Oliver Kahn conceded only three goals in the course of the competition.


This year’s host country, Brazil, was dubbed the most successful national football team in the history of FIFA World Cup. They have won five championships; 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.


They also have the highest goals scored in World Cup, 210 to date.


The Golden Era of Brazilian football was with Pelé from 1958-1970. He is the youngest goal scorer in FIFA World Cup history.


Pelé is also the only player who won three World Cup titles (1958, 1962 and 1970). He missed the 1962 final after sustaining an injury during the qualifying round.


Pele was not the player with the most appearances in the World Cup finals since he was injured in the 1962 final match. But who was?


Cafu, a former Brazilian football player owns the record for most appearances in a World Cup final, having played in the final 1994, 1998 and 2002.


Other notable past winners are Mario Zagallo from Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer from Germany. They are the only two persons who won the FIFA World Cup as both player and coach.


Zagallo won two World Cup titles alongside Pele as a player, twice in 1958 and 1962. As a coach he won the 1970 World Cup title as Brazil’s head coach and in 1994 as an assistant coach.


As for Beckenbauer, he won the World Cup as a player in 1974 and repeated his success as a coach in 1990.


FIFA World Cup is more than just a sport tournament. It is a phenomenon. The only thing that ever disrupted its schedule was World War II.


One thing for sure, the only major thing that has changed about the FIFA World Cup is that it has become bigger every four years.


Find the World Cup Schedule below:


WC schedule-1WC schedule-2 WC schedule-3 WC schedule-4


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