List of FIFA World Cup Facts

List of FIFA World Cup Facts

Held every four years, the FIFA World Cup is an international sporting spectacle with few rivals in reach or scale. The tournament boasts fans and competitors from around the world, attracting a massive audience. It holds the honor of being the most-watched sporting event in the world; the most recent World Cup, hosted by Russia in 2018, drew more than 3.5 billion television viewers.

History Facts

  • FIFA, the governing body that officiates the World Cup, was founded in 1904, and maintains headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA sanctions soccer matches all over the world, boasting 211 affiliated organizations.
  • The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay. In this inaugural tournament, the United States recorded its best finish ever, in third place; the host, Uruguay, was the winner.
  • The official name of the World Cup trophy is the Jules Rimet Trophy, named after the FIFA president who in 1929 launched the initiative to organize the first World Cup. 
  • The World Cup suffered only one interruption in its rich history: the scheduled 1942 and 1946 World Cups had to be canceled due to funding difficulties and the ravages of World War II.
  • The 2002 World Cup was the first and thus far only time the tournament was hosted jointly by two countries: Japan and South Korea.
  • The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first time the tournament is hosted in the Middle East and only the second occasion it has taken place in Asia; the first time was in 2002.

Player Facts

  • Oleg Salenk holds the record for most goals scored in a single World Cup match. Playing for Russia, he scored five goals against Cameroon in the first round of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, leading his team to a 6-1 victory.
  • Just Fontaine holds the record for most total goals scored during a World Cup tournament. He recorded an amazing 13 goals while playing for France in the 1958 World Cup in Brazil.
  • Miroslav Klose of Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal share the record for most career goals scored in World Cup matches, with 15 goals each.
  • The first World Cup hat trick was recorded by Bert Patenaude, playing for the US in a match against Paraguay in 1930. 
  • The record for the quickest goal scored in World Cup play belongs to Hakan Sukur of Turkey, who scored 11 seconds into the third-place playoff match against South Korea at the 2002 World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan.
  • The oldest player ever to score a goal in tournament play was Roger Milla. Playing for Cameroon in the 1994 World Cup, he scored a goal against Russia at the age of 42.
  • The oldest player to ever compete in a World Cup was Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary. At the age of 45, he saved a Saudi Arabian penalty shot in the group stage; Egypt lost the match 2-1.

Team Facts

  • Brazil is the most dominant team in World Cup history. They have won five championships–the only team to ever win two consecutive titles–and have won 73 total matches.
  • Brazil is also the only team that has qualified for every World Cup.
  • The biggest margin of victory in World Cup history was achieved at the 2002 World Cup, jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea, when Australia defeated American Samoa 31-0.
  • Hungary holds the record for most goals scored by a team in a single World Cup match. In the first round of Group 3 of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, they scored ten points against El Salvador’s single goal.
  • The most combined goals scored between the two sides in a World Cup match is 12. In the quarter-final of the 1954 World Cup, Austria defeated the host nation of Switzerland 7-5.
  • Mexico is one of the unluckiest teams at the World Cup. They have suffered the most defeats in tournament history, losing 27 matches.
  • Italy holds the record for most draws in World Cup history, with 21 matches ending in a tie score.
  • Indonesia has the dubious honor of having the fewest World Cup matches ever played. The team has only played one match; they were eliminated in the first round of the 1938 tournament.

Fun Facts

  • The largest area over which a World Cup has taken place was the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with games staged across a 1,997-mile span. The 2018 World Cup in Russia featured games in stadiums separated by a 1,500-mile distance. By contrast, every match in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place within 34 miles of each other.
  • With the first match set to be played on November 21 and the final on December 18, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first tournament staged during the winter months. Every other World Cup has been held during the summer.
  • Eight different stadiums will host matches at the 2022 World Cup, with seven newly constructed for the event. Another first for the 2022 World Cup is that all of the stadiums will be fully air-conditioned in an effort to combat the intense heat for which Qatar is known.
  • The 2022 World Cup will feature the largest total purse in tournament history, with a $700 million prize fund set to be divided among the winner and runners-up. The champion will take home $50 million, with the second-place finisher earning $32 million. Every country that qualifies for the 32-team first round is guaranteed at least a $2.5 million payout.
  • In 2026, the number of national squads that are selected for the World Cup is slated to expand from 32 teams to 48.