FIFA World Cup history

The Competition and Countries

The inaugural FIFA World Cup was held in and won by Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay, then the best footballing nation -- having already won the Olympic competitions in 1924 and 1928 -- defeated Argentina in the final. The first World Cup was competed by 13 countries. And thus started an enduring saga of man celebrating life never before.

Ever since, the greatest spectacle on earth is held every four years, except during the intervening years of the Second World War, in 1942 and 1946. Known as the Finals, the competition lasts about a month, with the qualification competitions held for each confederation(s) over the preceding years.

Only eight countries have ever won the competition. Brazil, which host the 20th edition starting June 12, have won a record five times. They have also scored the most World Cup goals, with 210. Italy follow with four titles, then Germany (as West Germany) with three. Argentina and Uruguay have each won twice and England, France and Spain (holders) once each. Germany have played the most World Cup matches, with 99 which includes seven finals. The Netherlands lost all their three finals in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

The number of competing teams increased to 16 in the 1934 World Cup in Italy, then to 24 in the 1982 edition in Spain. Now, it`s a 32-team format which was first incorporated in 1998, France. The 32 teams in 2014 World Cup will represent five confederations and except hosts Brazil, have qualified through the qualification involving an `unrivalled` 204 nations from six confederations.

The Trophy

Earlier, between 1930 and 1970, the Jules Rimet Trophy -- named after the FIFA president Jules Rimet -- was awarded to the winning team. This trophy was won outright by Brazil when in 1970, they won the competition for the third time. It was designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur. The present one, simply known as the FIFA World Cup Trophy, was chosen in 1970 from 53 models coming from seven countries. The 36 cm tall trophy of solid 18 carat gold was sculpted by Italian designer Silvio Gazzaniga. This trophy cannot be won outright.

Besides the winning team trophy, other awards are also presented for individual efforts. The Golden Ball, by far the best known among such awards, is meant for the best player of the tournament. The Silver Ball and the Bronze Ball are awarded to the second and third best players respectively. It is determined by a vote of media members. It was first awarded in 1982. The same year, the Golden Boot (also called the Golden Shoe) for the top goalscorer was introduced. But, retrospectively all the top scorers in the previous World Cup starting 1930 were accorded the same honour.

The award for the best goalkeeper is called the Golden Glove Award. Formerly known as the Yashin Award after the Russian great, Lev Yashin, it is decided by the FIFA Technical Study Group. It was first awarded in 1994.


Brazil legend, Ronaldo scored a record 15 goals from 1998 to 2006. He is followed by Germany`s Miroslav Klose and West Germany`s Gerd Muller (1970–1974) with 14 goals each. France`s Just Fontaine scored a record 13 goals in a single World Cup in 1958. The Morrocon immigrant is also still the fourth highest goalscorer.

Both Mexico`s Antonio Carbajal (1950–1966) and Germany`s Lothar Matthaus (1982–1998) have played in record five tournaments, with Matthaus holding the record for most appearances at 25. But the ultimate glory is with Pele, who lays claim to three World Cup winners` medals. He won the World Cup with Brazilian national team in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Brazil`s Mario Zagallo and West Germany`s Franz Beckenbauer are the only two players to have won the World Cup as both player and coach. Zagallo won in 1958 and 1962 as a player and in 1970 as coach, while Beckenbauer won in 1974 as captain and in 1990 as coach.