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World Cup Facts

For soccer fans, the countdown to the Qatar World Cup has already begun. Seeing the world’s best soccer players live is always exciting, and that’s why we cannot wait to accompany our guests to Qatar while watching the next World Cup.  To get you up to speed, we have compiled a list of World Cup facts to make you the smartest person at the next party you attend.

Continents And Countries

Only two continents have succeeded as champions of the WC: Europe and South America.

As of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 79 national teams have competed at the final tournaments.

Only South American or European countries have won the World Cup. In fact, of the 20 World Cups, European countries have been finalists in 18 of them.

There are only eight countries to have won the World Cup.

Mexico has qualified without winning the World Cup more than any other country (16 times).

The country with the smallest population to ever compete in the World Cup is Iceland (pop.334,000)

Among the national teams, Germany has played the most World Cup matches (106) and appeared in the most finals (8), semi-finals (13), quarter-finals (16) as well as scoring the most World Cup goals (224), while Brazil has appeared in the most World Cups (20).

In 2002, the FIFA World Cup tournament was held in two countries – South Korea and Japan.

Uruguay in 1950 is the only team to have won the World Cup without winning the final. This is because FIFA changed the rules for that competition only. Rather than teams going from a group stage to a knockout format, the teams when into another group. It just so happened that the final match was between the only two sides that could win the competition, hosts Brazil and 1930 winners Uruguay. Despite being heavy favorites, Brazil went down 2-1.

New Zealand is the only team to go unbeaten in the 2010 World Cup as they drew all 3 of their group stage games. The winners of the tournament, Spain, lost their 1st group stage match to Switzerland.

A European nation has won the past four World Cups and five of the last six – Brazil being the only non-European country to succeed.

France has won two of the last seven tournaments, making them the only country to win multiple World Cups in that time.

In 1930, Yugoslavia started its World Cup game with the youngest starting line-up ever. Players averaged 21 years and 258 days old.

Germany’s 1998 starting lineup versus Iran was the oldest ever fielded at a World Cup. Players were an average age of 31 years and 345 days. The next closest record is held by Belgium, whose average age against Mexico was 31 years and 304 days.

The Indian team qualified for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil but withdrew from the competition. As well as financial concerns, FIFA’s requirement for players to wear shoes during matches played a role in the team’s decision, since the Indian players had previously only played barefoot.

The World Cup Women’s Soccer Tournament has been held 8 times. The USA has won four and Germany has won twice. The only other winners are Norway and Japan.

The Host Nation

The last nation to win the World Cup as the host was France in 1998.

The host country has won six of the 20 World Cups.

The only host nation not to have reached the second round in South Africa.

Southeast Asia and Oceania have never hosted the tournament.

Outfield Players

Another interesting world cup fact is that famous cricketer Sir Viv Richards is the only person to have played both World Cup Football and World Cup Cricket. In addition, he played soccer for Antigua in the 1974 World cup qualifiers.

France soccer player Just Fontaine holds the record for the most goals scored in a single World Cup, with his 13 goals in 1958.

The first World Cup goal was scored by Lucien Laurent of France on July 13, 1930.

Carlos Caszely from Chile became the first player to be dismissed with a red card in World Cup history. That was in 1974.

Roger Milla from Cameroon is known to be the oldest player to participate in a World Cup Match. This man was responsible for leading his country into the World Cup in 1990.

In 1994, Russia’s Oleg Slanko scored five goals against Cameroon, setting the record for the most individual goals in a match.

Hungary’s Laszlo Kiss is the only substitute to score a hat-trick in the World Cup. Kiss scored the first of three goals for Hungary when the score was 5-1 against El Salvador in Spain 1982. The World Cup victory was the biggest ever.

The youngest player ever to play in the World Cup was Norman Whiteside from Northern Ireland. The young player had just turned 17 years and 41 days old when he played against Yugoslavia in 1982.

Luis Monti was the first player to represent two different countries in World Cup history. (Argentina 1930 and Italy 1934)Five other players have followed him:

Robert Prosinecki (Yugoslavia 1990, Croatia 1998)
Robert Jarni (Yugoslavia 1990, Croatia 1998)
José Santamaria (Uruguay 1954 and Spain 1962)
Ferenc Puskas (Hungary 1954 and Spain 1962)
Mazola (Brazil 1958, Italy 1962)

In terms of minutes on the field, two players have the shortest World Cup careers. Khemais Labidi represented Tunisia against Mexico in 1978 for two minutes. Former Argentina midfielder Marcelo Trobbiani helped his country beat West Germany 3-2 in 1986 final. He came on for his first and only appearance with two minutes remaining.

The fastest substitute from the start of the game was Italian Alessandro Nesta. He was replaced by Italy’s Giuseppe Bergomi after only four minutes in a match against Austria in 1998.

Before 1970, substitutes were never used. Anatoli Pusatch was the first substitute at a World Cup match. He took the place of Viktor Serebrjanikov. Steve Adamache of Romania was the first goalkeeper to be substituted against Brazil. Necula Raducanu replaced him.

French and Brazilian legends Zinedine Zidane and Cafu hold the record for most cards. They each received six cautions.

Jose Batista of Uruguay was sent off after 56 seconds in 1986 against Scotland! He was the fastest player in World Cup history to be sent off. French referee Joel Quiniou has no choice but to punish him for the foul on Gordon Strachan.

One of the funniest world cup facts involves the penalty shootout of the great Italian footballer Giuseppe Meazza. In the year 1938, he got a chance of a penalty kick against Brazil. Unfortunately, while he was about to do so, his shorts fell. Despite this malfunction, he picked up his shorts and made the goal beating the goalkeeper, who was still laughing. This goal pushed Italy into the finals.

Zinedine Zindane abruptly charged at the Italian defender Marco Materazzi during the final match of the 2006 World Cup, striking him with his head. Zidane, who is of Algerian descent, shocked spectators and commentators with the bizarre assault, which prompted some to believe the player was responding to a racial epithet. A few days later, Matterazi admitted to insulting the Frenchman’s sister.


Among all goalkeepers participating in one World Cup, South Korean Hong Duk-Yung conceded the most goals. In 1954, Hong Duk-Yung conceded 16 goals.

Bodo Illgner of West Germany was the first-ever goalkeeper to have kept a clean sheet in the FIFA World Cup Final? That was in 1990.

The first time a goalkeeper was replaced at a World Cup was for any other reason than injury when Zaire were 0-3 down versus Yugoslavia after 22 minutes in 1974. Dimbi Tubilandu, his replacement, was unable to block the goal rush, and subsequently, their country lost the game 9-0.

The longest unbeaten goalkeeper in World Cup history is Walter Zenga of Italy. While playing in the 1990 tournament, he went 517 minutes without allowing a goal. In the semifinal, Argentina’s Claudio Caniggia ended his run after Italy lost on penalties.

Known as the “Black Spider” for his all-black goalkeeper clothing, the great Lev Yashin played in three World Cups (1958, 1962, and 1966). “I like to have a smoke before a match to calm my nerves, then drink a strong drink to tone my muscles,” he said when asked about his pre-match routine.

As captain of the Italian national team in 1982, Dino Zoff was the oldest player to win the World Cup at the age of 40 years, 4 months, and 13 days.


When Argentina played France in 1930, Juan Jose Tramutola was 27 years and 267 days old, the youngest coach for a World Cup team.

In 1954, Gaston Barreau of France was 70 years and 194 days old when his country played Mexico in the World Cup.

Helmut Schön, who coached the German team 25 times between 1966 and 1978, holds the record for most matches as coach at the World Cup.

Coach Sepp Herberger’s strategy led Germany to its first World Cup title in 1954. Herberger sent a reserve team on the pitch when he faced favored Hungary in a group stage match and received an 8-3 defeat. When the two countries faced off again in the final, this time with the top players on the field, the West German team achieved the “Miracle of Bern” and won 3-2.

Frenchman Didier Deschamps, Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, and Germany Franz Beckenbauer have won the World Cup as player and head coach.

Amazingly a nation with a foreign coach has never won a World Cup. They have all been the same nationally as the team that won.

The World Cup coaching record belongs to Bora Milutinovic and Carlos Alberto Parreira. Each coached five World Cup teams.


The winning team receives prize money of USD 38 million. (Russia 2018)

Runners up aren’t disappointed either. They receive USD 25 million.

The prize money for the 2018 World Cup in Russia came to 791 million U.S. dollars, up significantly from the 576 million U.S. dollars at the previous World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

World Cup Trophy

The World Cup trophy went missing for seven days before the World Cup in 1966.

First, there was the Jules Rimet trophy from 1930–1970. It was permanently given to Brazil after winning the tournament three times.

Unfortunately, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen in 1983 and has not been recovered since.

An interesting fact about the World Cup trophy is made of 18 karat gold.

The trophy was in danger during WW2, so FIFA’s Italian Vice President Otorino Barassi moved the trophy from the vault of the bank it was kept in and placed it in a shoebox under his bed to protect it from the Nazis.

Someone stole the Jules Rimet Trophy from an exhibition at the Westminster Central Hall in 1966, just four months before the FIFA World Cup was held in England. A dog found it, and his owner received a reward of 6,000 British pounds.

World Cup Attendances

The largest attendance of a World Cup match is 199,854 (that’s more than half the population of Iceland!). It was a match between Brazil and Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro in July 1950.

A total of 26.29 billion people viewed all the World Cup matches in 2006.

Seven and a half billion people saw the final match of the tournament, almost a ninth of all people on earth.

The Romania-Peru match took place at Estadio Pocitos in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 14 July 1930, with only 300 people in attendance.


Joel Quiniou from France has refereed the most matches. He was in charge of eight matches between 1986 and 1994, including four in USA ’94. Nicolaj Latychev (RUS 1962), José Ramiz Wright (BRA 1990) and Jan Langenus (BEL 1930) have all also refereed four games in one tournament – another record.

In 1930, Francisco Mateuccia of Uruguay became the youngest referee to oversee a World Cup game when he handled the Yugoslavia – Bolivia match.

The oldest referee to referee a World Cup game was George Reader of England, 53 years and 236 days old when he officiated the 1950 Brazil-Uruguay final.

English referee Graham Poll booked Croatian Josip Simunic three times before sending him off in 2006. He should have been sent off after the second card. However, Poll got confused.

Referees are sometimes required to add injury time to games. However, Michel Vautrot added 8 minutes in the first period of extra time in the semi-final between Italy and Argentina in 1990! It was later revealed he forgot about the time.

Unusual Facts

During the 2010 South Africa World Cup, over 750,000 liters of beer were sold within the stadiums. That’s equivalent to 3,170,064 beers!

In the 1958 quarter-finals, none of the four losing teams scored a single goal during these matches.

The famous song entitled “Coup de Boule” (“Headbutt”) was inspired by what France’s Zinedine Zidane did during the World Cup final in 2006. He hit Italy’s Marco Materazzi’s chest with his head.

Goal-line technology was first used in the 2014 World Cup.

Soccer History Fact: In ancient times, a pig bladder would be inflated and used as a soccer ball.

The highest-scoring World Cup game in history was played in 1954 when Austria defeated Switzerland by a score of 7-5.

It wasn’t just England’s glory on the pitch that made the 1996 World Cup special. The union flag football shirt and lion’s mop-top mane of World Cup Willie helped him set new standards for World Cup merchandise. This was the first World Cup mascot.

In the 2002 World Cup Bronze medal match, Turkish soccer legend Hakan Sukur scored just 10.8 seconds after the opening whistle to score the fastest goal in World Cup history.

A comic relief moment opened the 1994 World Cup hosted by the United States at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The main performer during the introductory ceremonies was the American singer Diana Ross, who led an elaborate song-and-dance number culminating with a triumphant salute. Ross missed the net by a long shot – but still, the goal tore open on cue.

A foosball table measuring 138 m (452 ft) long was built by Jiujiang Jiuxing Sports Facility on 27 September 2019. China hosted the table football world championships when it was made.

The traditional sport, Speak Takraw, has its own World Cup every four years. Its part of the Southeast Asian Games held every two years and the Asian Games (ever

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

Rolf Liefden, who has played in six beach world cups, is the oldest player in the tournament’s history. In 2013, the Netherlands international was 46 years and 216 days of age when he played against Argentina.

At the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, 286 goals were scored in total, which resulted in an average of 8.94 goals per match.

After a dominant victory over Tahiti in 2017 final, Brazil earned their fifth Beach Soccer World Cup title overall.

There have been 37 nations that have participated in the World Cup at least once.

Brazil v Portugal is the most recurring match in Beach Soccer World Cup history.

Romário Faria, the 1994 FIFA World Cup winner, played for hosts Brazil in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2005, scoring six goals in four matches.


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