The 2022 FIFA World Cup is finally underway, with 32 teams set to fight it out for the ultimate success over the next four weeks. Having first been played way back in 1930, it’s the biggest sporting tournament in the world, so let’s take a look at ten of the most interesting facts about the FIFA World Cup.
1. Eight teams have won the FIFA World Cup
In total, the FIFA World Cup has been played on 21 occasions, but only eight teams have managed to hold the trophy aloft. Brazil is the most successful of those, having won on five occasions, and they’ll head into this year’s event as the favourite according to FIFA World Cup betting sites. Sitting just behind them are Germany and Italy, the latter of whom failed to even qualify for this year’s event. They are the only three teams to have won it more than twice.
2. No team from outside Europe or South America has ever won the FIFA World Cup
This is perhaps no great surprise given the quality of players that these continents so consistently produce, but over the course of nearly 100 years it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that another nation would have managed to win the event. In fact, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are the only non-European teams to win the FIFA World Cup, with the other trophies going to Germany (4), Italy (4), France (2), Spain (1) and England (1). And that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon, with the first fourteen teams in the Winnersbet betting odds hailing from one of those two continents
3. The host nation has won the FIFA World Cup on five occasions
Typically, the FIFA World Cup has been a pretty happy hunting ground for the host nation. In 21 editions of the event the host country has won it five times, finished second twice, third three and fourth twice. That trend has somewhat faltered of late, however, no doubt a product of the event being held in less traditional footballing nations – of which Qatar this year is a prime example. In fact, this century, no host nation has finished higher than fourth place, and Qatar is certainly not likely to change that this year.
4. Official estimates suggest that around half the world watched the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final
The viewership estimates for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final were truly extraordinary, with over three billion people around the world reportedly tuning in to see France defeat Croatia two goals to nil. That was close to half of the world’s population, and is representative of the World Cup’s status as the most followed sporting tournament on the planet.
5. No team has won the World Cup back-to-back since 1962
In the first seven incarnations of the FIFA World Cup, a team won twice in a row on two occasions. The first was Italy in 1934 and 1938 – the second and third editions of the event – while Brazil did the same in 1958 and 1962. In the 60 years since then, however, it hasn’t happened again, meaning France would have to break a very longstanding streak if they’re to salute in 2022.
6. Belgium’s 2-0 defeat of England was the lowest scoring third-place game since 1974
After the disappointment of missing out on the final, it’s no surprise that teams play pretty hard and loose in the third-place game, but even so the numbers are pretty striking. When Belgium finished third in 2018 courtesy of a 2-0 defeat of England, it was the first time since 1974 that less than three goals had been scored in the third place game. Including that tournament, the average number of goals scored in the World Cup Final over the past 11 events is an incredible 3.91, with particularly high-scoring games including Argentina’s 4-2 win over Germany in 1986, Brazi’s 3-2 win over Germany in 2002, and Germany’s 3-2 defeat of Uruguay in 2010. That is in stark contrast to the final; France’s 4-2 defeat of Croatia in 2018 was an exception to the rule, but in the seven finals prior to that only one saw more than two goals.
7. 2022 will be the last time 32 teams will compete at the event
It was in 1998 that 32 teams competed at the FIFA World Cup for the first time; prior to that it was 24 for 16 years, while back when the event began it was just 13. The 2026 event, however, will see the largest jump in teams in history. At that tournament, to be held between Canada, the United States of America and Mexico, there will be a huge 48 teams playing, a jump over 150% on this year’s event.
8. A total of $440 million USD is up for grabs in 2022
The prize pool for the FIFA World Cup has consistently grown with each edition of the event, and that’s true once again this year. The prize pool of $440 million USD is the biggest in history, and will see the winning nation take home an incredible $44 million USD – 10% of the total prize pool and relatively comfortably the biggest cheque handed out to the winner in World Cup history.
9. 2022 will be the first time the World Cup hasn’t been held in May, June or July
This year’s event will be the first time in nearly 100 years that the FIFA World Cup won’t be held in the middle months of the year. The reason for this is Qatar’s intense heat, which would make playing it during those months close to impossible. This was one of just many reasons that there was so much controversy surrounding their selection as host nation, with many domestic league seasons now being interrupted for the event.
10. The 2022 World Cup will be just the second held in Asia
In 2002, the FIFA World Cup was played in Asia for the first time when Japan and South Korea shared hosting duties. Since then, it hasn’t returned to the continent – until now. Qatar’s hosting of the event will make them the second country in Asia to host the event, while this will also mark the first time that the tournament has been held in the Arab world.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting tournament in the world – as Point #4 above demonstrates! And, having first been held way back in 1930, it’s near-100 years of history and 21 editions of the tournament have seen a myriad of interesting facts and figures etch themselves into the annals of history.