The World Cup is arguably one of the most coveted sporting events on the planet. Every footballer’s dream is to showcase their skills and technique in front of thousands of fans watching live, and billions of others following through various media. For the fans, the beauty of the game is to attend a World Cup, support their teams, and hopefully bring home the trophy. Countries put in bids to host the World Cup years in advance, and though only a handful of countries have held the prestigious event; every four years, you can see the host country go all out and try to outdo the previous host.
Since the World Cup started in 1930, it has offered entertainment, with every edition better than the last. Here are 25 amazing history facts about FIFA's most prestigious event, the World Cup, this list involves some of the downright shocking, surprising, and out of this world's realities that surround the most coveted event.
1.Most watched event
In a world where the internet has taken over, there is an influx of content. Thus, there are countless content providers that fight over the limited market share. Niching out your service, and edging above other content creators can prove an impossible task. Unless it’s the world's largest sporting event; the most watched event, which has been so for years. Every World Cup tends to break the previous most-watched record. In the 2018 edition hosted in Russia, it is estimated over three and a half billion people followed the event.
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2.No sexual engagement for players
Sure, the tournament is the most sort after trophy in sports history. And yes, many players live their whole lives practicing, wishing, preparing and hoping they get to showcase their talent in front of billions of viewers. However, some coaches and team managers have taken it a notch higher and forbidden any sexual intercourse for the period the event is running.
Coaches from teams renowned for their grand performance in the event have been known to restrict their players from having sex. Such countries include Germany, Spain, Chile, and Mexico. Some countries are somewhat lenient and only restrict their players from engaging in acrobatic maneuvers during sex. A good example of the latter kind of countries is Brazil.
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3.World Cup causes pregnancies
Sounds absurd, right? Wrong! Far-fetched as it may sound, it is indeed, very factual. In 2006, when Germany was the host, it was apparent there was a surge of babies being born nine months after the Cup hosting. You might be thinking there are other factors in play, or maybe it was just a coincidence. But mind the fact that population and mortality rates are closely monitored.
After Germany hosted the tournament, the country’s birth rate increased by 10%. You might feel like the figure is too low, but when all factors are held constant, birth rates ordinarily don’t change by more than 0.7% in Germany. The explanation behind the birth rate phenomenon is, it is considered to be a jolly event where people let loose and have fun. Some of the fun includes an increased alcohol intake and thus people feel more compelled to let loose. Because of the joy and happiness going around, women also tend to release hormones that make it easier for them to get pregnant.
4.Over three million bottles of alcohol drank
As mentioned above, there is a lot of joy and merry-making associated with the World Cup. Alcohol is considered to be one of the most consumed drinks around the world –at any given time. However, it seems football fans have an inclination to enjoy a cold one or two when their teams are playing.
In the 2010 tournament hosted in South Africa, it is estimated over three million bottles of beer were sold around various stadia. That's well over 750,000 liters. On the upside though, there were also around 390,500 hot dogs sold in the same areas around the same time. So fans did not get strong hangovers to keep them from enjoying the matches ... hopefully.
5.$38 Million dollar payout
What every player, coach, fan, and country desires, is to hold the most coveted trophy in history. When a team wins at the finals, every player will try to get their hands on the trophy, and perhaps get a photo session.
However, what you may not know is the winners receive a huge amount of money to accompany the golden accolade. Yes, the winning team takes home the trophy, together with a cash bonus of $38 million.
The runners-up, too aren’t forgotten, as they take home $28 million. Second runners-up get $24 million. Some of the other bonuses given are; $8 million for the group stages, $12 million for the round of 16, $16 million for the quarterfinals, and $22 million for the third runners-up.
In the 2018 cup hosted in Russia, FIFA sights it spent around $400 million in bonuses and cash prizes to participating teams.
6.Croatia donates winnings to charity
Talking of the 2018 tournament; it was one of the greatest editions of the event. Great teams such as Germany, Spain, and Portugal were ousted early on in the competition. Nevertheless, some of the lesser known teams went ahead to forge names for themselves, and forever be remembered in World Cup history books.
Croatia is one such team; they came from being underdogs to being one of the great fearsome teams in the tournament, with their tenacious ability to bounce back after several initial defeats. Croatia went on to reach the finals, and though they lost to France 4-2, they kept the fight going until the last minute.
Since they participated in the final, they were assured of bonuses amounting to more than $28 million. However, the Croats decided to give all the proceeds from the tournament to charity.
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7.A European affair
The prestigious tournament may be meant for the whole world, with equal chances being given to countries from all over. However, an interesting statistic sites that at least one European country has featured in the final in 19 of the last 21 World Cup finals. Moreover, out of those appearances, European countries have won over 60% of the matches.
8.Most successful teams
Though European countries are collectively powerful, individually, there’s another powerhouse. Brazil has won the Jules Rimet trophy a record five times. This makes Brazil the most decorated and successful team in the tournament’s history and in football history generally.
Italy comes in a close second with four titles. Germany is third with three, followed by Argentina, Uruguay, and France who all tie at fourth place with two trophy wins apiece.
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9.Hosted by 17 nations
There have been 21 editions from its inaugural appearance in 1930. The 21 editions have been hosted in 17 nations, these nations are; Uruguay, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa, West Germany, Brazil, Sweden, Chile, England, Mexico, Argentina, France, United States of America, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and Russia. The next edition of 2022 is to be hosted in Qatar, while 2026 will be hosted by three nations namely, The United States of America, Canada, and Mexico.
It’s also worth noting that even though the tournament debuted in 1930, the 1942 and 1946 editions were canceled due to World War II.
10.The fastest goal
You would think both teams at a match would be on high alert, especially during the starting minutes of the game. However, that was not the case when South Korea squared off against Turkey. This was at the world cup hosted two years after the wake of this century.
Hakan Sukur, a Turkish player holds the record for the fastest goal at just 11 seconds. That’s right, in 11 seconds, he had already scored a goal. The goal helped Turkey beat South Korea 3-2 and finish the tournament as second runners-up.
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11.Quickest red card
No team wants to see their player given a red card and forced off the field. Less so, no player wants to be the one who leaves their team handicapped and a man down. However, some players are just eccentric; forget the rules, or just plain rude.
Jose Batista, an Uruguay based defender, holds the record for the quickest red card issued. The defender found himself being booked by the referee after just 56 seconds of play. Albeit, Uruguay were able to hold down the fort and end the game with a goalless draw.
12.FIFA - The United Nations...
The World Cup has, for years, organized by global footballing association, FIFA. In full, it means Federation Internationale de Football Association - or in English, the International Federation of Association Football. FIFA was established in 1904, under the Swiss government and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Their mantra is For the Game. For the World,’ and they currently have 209 member countries. FIFA is often referred to as the United Nations of Football.’
13.Most goals scored
To score a single goal in an event such as the World Cup is a fete by itself. Any player who scores a goal has their name sang and recorded in history. Some players are, however, phenomenal, and have surpassed all known metrics.
Brazil’s Ronaldo and Germany’s Miroslav Klose are such kind of players. They have defied norms by having most goals scored. They both have a tied overall score of 15 goals.
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14.Most goals scored in a single tournament
If you thought the above fact was thrilling, here’s another one for you. French striker, Just Justo’ Fontaine holds the record for the most scored goals in a single World Cup. His record stands at an amazing 13 goals in just six games.
15.Most goals scored in a single match
Still looking at the goals, here are some more amazing facts. In a single match, Hungary was able to net in a goal ten times. Yes, in a game against El Salvador in 1982, Uruguay won the match 10-1.
16.Highest scorer in a single match
Still, on goals, Russia holds the record for the player with the most goals in one match. In 1994, while facing off in a match against Cameroon, Russian striker, Salenko, scored an astonishing five times. His multiple goals helped Russia beat Cameroon 6-1.
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17.Most goals in a match
In 1954, Austria faced off against the Swiss in a match that would be carved in historical books. The game saw Austria score seven goals while Switzerland scored five goals. In total, there were 12 goals scored in one match.
18.The oldest player
The 2018 Russian event was one where multiple records were shuttered. One of the records broken is that of the oldest player. Previously, the oldest player was Cameroon’s Roger Milla at 42 years, but in the 2018 event, the record was broken by Colombian goalkeeper, Faryd Mondragon who set the new record at 43 years and three days old.
19.Home team success
There is a common notion that the country hosting has to do well. In past history, with exception of South Africa in 2010, all host countries have gotten to the last group of 16.
Six times, the hosting nation has edged ahead to win the tournament. These are Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), England (1966), West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), and France (1998).
There is little discrimination when playing football on a global scale is the subject matter, especially on the field. It’s the skills that help a team edge forward. In 2018, yet another record to be broken was that of the smallest country to attend.
Iceland made their debut in the Russian hosted tournament. They were also the smallest country –in population- to participate in the event with just over 300,000 citizens.
21.More participating countries
Currently, there are 32 teams that participate at a time. However, the number is set to go up in the 2026 event, set to be hosted in three North American countries. The number of participating teams in the event is slated to be 48 countries.
In 1966, the trophy was stolen. Just before the tournament started, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen. Although it was finally recovered after a week, its whereabouts for the week remains unknown.
In 1950, it was rumored that India had withdrawn from the contest because they were denied the right to play barefooted. The claim has since been refuted, but the exact reason for their withdrawal remains unknown.
Italians were the second time winners of the tournament, and they have had relatively great success over the years, and even won themselves more trophies. However, they missed the 2018 tournament, a first for them since 1958.
In 2018, some countries were barred from participating in the qualifiers for various reasons. Zimbabwe was barred from participating for refusing to pay their coach. Indonesia was also barred from participation, this is due to the government’s interference in matches.
The Important Take Away
There you go, all the interesting and bizarre facts that have happened in the footballing scenery from 1930 to 2018. With an increase in theatrics, maneuvers, skills, and so much more, you can only expect more drama in future tournaments.