Sunday earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.
Billions of Cheering Fans
Every four years, the world goes crazy for one of the biggest sporting events of all time, the FIFA World Cup. This international soccer (or football as most of the world calls it) tournament averages 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 exhilarating!
History of the World Cup
To fully understand what this sporting tournament is and why it draws so many spectators, we need to know a little more about its history and how it is organized.
FIFA, or Federation Internationale de Football Association, is an organization founded in 1904 by 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. However, they did not originally envision hosting a World Cup event.
First World Cup
From those first international soccer games, interest in a global competition began to grow. However, the Olympic Football competitions already existed as an event every four years. 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 first FIFA World Cup tournament occurred in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay between thirteen total teams. This location was selected because Uruguay won 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 jobs if they took so much time off for the games.
The first games of the first World Cup tournament were both played on July 13th between France and Mexico (France winning 4 -1) and the United States and Belgium (the U.S. winning 3-0). By the end of the tournament measuring the skills of the thirteen 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, Jules Rimet, in a 1946 ceremony to honor his commitment to the organization and the sport. After Brazil won its third World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy was retired and a new trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy was used from 1974 onward.
The games have continued every four years to this day, with the exception of two scheduled competitions. The outbreak of WWII halted the World Cup competition while fighting intensified, canceling the games scheduled in 1942. The games would not be held again until 1950, where Uruguay won for the second time in World Cup history.
World Cup Trivia - Ten Fun Facts
1) Only 13 teams competed in the first World Cup: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, the United States, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.
2) No country outside of Europe or South America has ever won the World Cup.
- Brazil - 5 wins
- Germany - 4 wins
- Italy - 4 wins
- Uruguay - 2 wins
- Argentina - 2 wins
- England - 1 win
- France - 1 win
- Spain - 1 win
3) Only Brazil has qualified to compete in every World Cup since the tournament began in 1930.
4) In 1982, the number of competing teams expanded from 16 to 24. The year 1998 saw yet another expansion, this time from 24 to the current pool of 32 teams.
5) The first use of a mascot, World Cup Willie, occurred in 1966. Since then, a new mascot is chosen for each tournament.
6) The first African country to host a World Cup was South Africa in 2010.
7) To this day, Pele is the only player to hold three World Cup wins, with his first in 1958 at the age of 17 and other victories for Brazil in 1962 and again in 1970.
8) The most scored game in World Cup history occurred in 1954 when Austria won with 7 points against Switzerland's 5 points for a total of 12 goals in a single game.
9) In 1966, the World Cup trophy was stolen and held for ransom. It was missing for a total of 7 days before a dog named Pickles found it on a London street.
10) The fastest goal in World Cup history occurred 11 seconds into the game between Turkey and South Korea in 2002. Hakan Suker of Turkey scored the goal.
The World Cup, organized by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), was first held in Uruguay beginning on July 13th, 1930 with simultaneous games played between France - Mexico and between the United States - Belgium. The host country, Uruguay, won the tournament. Since then, the World Cup tournament, held every four years, has only grown in popularity. Currently, over 3.2 billion people watch the games, closely following the Olympics' record of over 3.6 billion spectators. Though WWII canceled games between 1942 and 1950, the games resumed after the war and have continued, uninterrupted, through today. The first trophy was named for the FIFA president, Jules Rimet, who organized the competition.
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