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FIFA World cup history - Winners and Host countries

Thu 20 May 2021 | 19:29

With the 2022 Qatar World Cup inching ever closer, why not take a look at the brief history of the World Cup and see which countries have won it ever since its inauguration in 1930? Follow us below as we provide details about the FIFA World Cup history.

There are many prestigious and world-renowned club competitions in football that attract millions of people from all around the world as fans enjoy the top-tier football and debate over their favorite clubs, creating devoted fan-bases to further support their teams. We all have fond memories of the Champions League, or the Premier League and even other top leagues in Europe. We can also enjoy club competition from other continents such as South America, where football arguably has an even stronger bond with the natives of the continent.

But while these competitions certainly have their allure and their own prestige, none could ever reach the fame and history of the World Cup. Even though many domestic leagues predate the World Cup, this global competition was the start of the peak in football and greater attention was paid to this particular sport after its inauguration. We have witnessed many a great moments be made throughout the

FIFA World Cup history

, from Brazil’s domination of the 2002 World Cup to Croatia's David versus Goliath battle against

France

in the 2018 World Cup, which ended in the favor of Goliath.

But these and many more are only the ones that the younger generation have been lucky enough to witness and there are many more competitions in FIFA World Cup history that we haven’t had the privilege of watching during our lifetime. So let’s take a trip back in time and go through the history of the FIFA World Cup and get to know the national teams that have since gotten their hands on the famous golden trophy.

Everything about the history of the FIFA World Cup

Of course not all the details can be covered about the

FIFA World Cup history

, but the more important bits of information, including the FIFA World Cup winners list and the host countries, will be provided down below. So let’s begin with the very first World Cup.

1930 Uruguay

  • Winner: Uruguay

We can’t express how thankful we are to the then authorities at FIFA and other federations and continental confederations for creating one of the most beautiful and thrilling competitions in the world. The inaugural FIFA World Cup dates back to 1930, when countries such as Italy, Spain and Hungary competed alongside Uruguay to win the rights and of course the responsibility of holding the very first World Cup in history.

Amongst the FIFA World Cup host countries shines the name of

Uruguay

, who got to host the inaugural competition after all other countries withdrew in turns and Uruguay was left to be the only candidate. So the FIFA Congress never actually got to vote for any country and Uruguay were the clear victors. That is how

FIFA World Cup history

started as the South American country both hosted and won the very first World Cup in 1930.

They achieved this historic moment by defeating the former Yugoslavia in the semifinals, before running a 4-2 rout against Argentina in the final itself to get their hands on the golden trophy.

1934 Italy

  • Winner: Italy

With Uruguay adding their name on the

FIFA World Cup winners list

as the first ever winners of the World Cup, it was now Italy’s turn to host the global competition after they too got to be the only candidate left standing. Italy’s only competitor was

Sweden

, who withdrew before the vote, which in turn added Italy as the second of the FIFA World Cup host countries.

There were many of the world’s greatest national teams competing for the chance of getting their hands on the prestigious trophy. But it was the hosts who earned the rights to lift the trophy in the end by defeating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final.

Italy

actually managed to make history as they could have lost out on the chance to win the World Cup in the quarterfinals.

The Italians faced an impasse in the quarterfinals after drawing 1-1 with Spain, which led to the game being replayed on 1 June, when Italy finally managed to clutch a 1-0 victory over their fierce rivals.

1938 France

  • Winner: Italy

Even though France were the third country to put their name on the list of

FIFA World Cup host countries

, they did not get to repeat the rather short-lived tradition of the host country winning the golden trophy. Of course this time was a little bit different as none of the countries withdrew from their bids to host the World Cup. So the FIFA Congress held a convention in Germany on August 1936 to decide the next host and France became the dominant victors after receiving 19 of the total 23 votes.

Brazil lived through the same history as Italy’s quarterfinal drama of the 1934 World Cup, but they were bested in the semifinals by the Italians and didn’t get to repeat the whole story.

1950 Brazil

  • Winner: Uruguay

The

history of the FIFA World Cup

shows us how tragic certain events can be as the 1942 and the 1946 World Cups were cancelled due to the outbreak of WWII. With two hugely anticipated quadrennial competitions being cancelled, people were yearning for another World Cup as soon as possible. Thankfully the Second World War ended in 1945 and countries made their bid to host the competition once again. Even though the competition was scheduled for 1949, it was later rescheduled for 1950 and with Brazil being the only bidders, they won the rights to host the 1950 World Cup.

The FIFA World Cup winners list didn’t change in 1950 as Uruguay managed to retain the title of World Champions after beating the hosts 2-1 in the final. Sweden also bested Spain 3-1 in the Third-Place play-off to complete the list of the competition’s top-three.

1954 Switzerland

  • Winner: West Germany

As the FIFA World Cup history got richer every four years, more and more countries found their way into the competition. Switzerland were in fact selected as the hosts five years prior when Brazil were selected as the 1950 World Cup hosts. This time it was West Germany’s turn to win the competition after they ran a rout against Austria in the semifinals but humiliating their neighbors 6-1. Hungary also qualified for the final after beating the previous champions 4-2. It was West Germany who got their hands on the trophy after besting Hungary 3-2 in the final.

1958 Sweden

  • Winner: Brazil

Even though many countries such as

Chile

, Argentina, Sweden and

Mexico

had expressed their interest in hosting the tournament, Sweden found a workaround for the competition as the country’s delegates lobbied other countries and persuaded them into withdrawing from their bids to host the tournament.

This lobbying resulted in Sweden standing as the only bidder for the position of the 1958 World Cup host, which led to the country hosting the thrilling competition as it was planned. The hosts actually managed to get to the final itself, but were proven to be too weak to stand against the much stronger Brazil, who humiliated Sweden 5-2 in the final.

1962 Chile

  • Winner: Brazil

The late 50s and the early 60s was the era of Brazil’s domination of world football as they once again managed to retain their title as world champions by defeating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final after an intense battle against Chile in the semifinals, where both teams were a man down and the game ended 4-2 in

Brazil

’s favor. Unlike the past three World Cups, however, three countries had bid to host the tournament in 1956. 

While West Germany withdrew from the vote, Chile received the highest number of votes and won the voting in the very first round. Chile received 31 votes while Argentina only got 12. The FIFA World Cup history saw the hosts Chile beat Yugoslavia 1-0 in the third-place play-off, which was still a significant achievement for the South American country.

1966 England

  • Winner: England

The FIFA World Cup history saw a new face in the midst of the tournament’s winners as the Three Lions introduced themselves to the world as both the hosts and the winners of the competition. With two other countries bidding to host the tournament, namely West Germany and Spain, it was England who in the end received the most votes in the FIFA Congress held in Rome on 22 August 1960. Only one round of voting was needed as England were the clear victors after

Spain

withdrew prior to voting.

The Englishmen fought hard to get to the final itself, where they defeated West Germany 4-2 in the extra time as Geoff Hurst completed his hat-trick by adding a brace in the extra time. This trophy has been the first and only World Cup that

England

have ever won. The win was as dramatic as it could get as Hurst’s hat-trick was the first and still is the only hat-trick in a World Cup final and the spectators stormed the pitch after England’s fourth goal, which cemented their lead in the dying minutes of the game.

1970 Mexico

  • Winner: Brazil

It was the era of Pele’s domination over the world of football, which is why it was no surprise that Brazil were once again crowned as world champions in the 1970 World Cup. No one will ever forget the heroics, the technique and the lethality of Pele in FIFA World Cup history as he and his national team bested Italy 4-1 in the final to win their third out of their total five World Cups.

Mexico were selected as the hosts after many of the bidders such as Peru,

Japan

and Australia withdrew prior to voting and Argentina couldn’t get enough votes to compete with Mexico.

1974 West Germany

  • Winner: West Germany

While usually one or two of the next hosts were chosen before the 1974 World Cup, the FIFA World Cup history saw three of the next hosts be chosen in the FIFA Congress convention in London on 6 July 1966, with West Germany, Argentina and Spain being selected as the 1974, 1978 and 1982 World Cup hosts respectively. In fact West Germany and Spain agreed to withdraw from the 1982 and the 1974 World Cups respectively to give way for each other to be selected as hosts in turns.

Once again the hosts of the tournament got to keep the golden trophy at home as West Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the final after besting Poland 1-0 in the semifinals.

1978 Argentina

  • Winner: Argentina

The 11th edition of the FIFA World cup saw the addition of many new countries such as Iran, who were competing in the global tournament for the very first time. With the hosts already having been decided to be Argentina prior to the 1974 World Cup, the South American nation fought hard to keep the trophy at home as the humiliated Peru 6-0 in the third match-day of the second group-stage and won the final against Netherlands by scoring three goals and conceding only one goal in return.

1982 Spain

  • Winner: Italy

The 1982 World Cup in Spain had some truly magnificent and thrilling matches as so many goals were scored during the tournament. Hungary got to write their name in the football hall of fame after running a rout against El Salvador as they scored a massive 10 goals and conceded only one goal in return.

While Argentina couldn’t retain their title as world champions, it was once again Italy’s turn to get their hands on the prestigious trophy as they won their third World Cup by defeating West Germany 3-1 in the final. There were a total of 14 UEFA members in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, while only 1 nation was in the tournament from the AFC and OFC confederations.

1986 Mexico

  • Winner: Argentina

The 1986 World Cup in Mexico was and still is perhaps one of the most historic and memorable tournaments in the world as people got to witness the late Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” incident, where the Argentinian scored the winning goal against England in the quarterfinals while clearly handling the ball into the back of the net instead of using his head.

This controversy led to Maradona becoming a national hero and treasure, which has since resulted in many Argentinians worshipping the former footballer till date. The tournament was held in Mexico even though it was Colombia who had initially won the bid to host the World Cup. Colombia withdrew from hosting the World Cup due to financial issues a couple of years prior to the start of the tournament, which resulted in Mexico receiving a Unanimous vote in competition with the USA and Canada. West Germany were once again bested in the final as the trophy went to Argentina.

1990 Italy

  • Winner: West Germany

The 1990 World Cup saw the likes of Iran and Greece also bidding to host the tournament. But most of the nations including the likes of France, England, Austria and West Germany withdrew from the competition as only Italy and the former Soviet Union stood standing. Italy won the voting in the first round by receiving 11 votes compared to USSR’s 5.

While West Germany had lost out on the chance to get their hands on the golden trophy in the previous World Cup, they managed to emerge victorious in the end as they beat England 4-3 in Penalties in the semifinals and later beat Argentina 1-0 in the final to finally win their third World Cup.

1994 United States

  • Winner: Brazil

The 1994 World Cup saw the United States host their very first global tournament despite being one of the less favorite teams to win the bid. Of course that didn’t stop the USA from making their tournament the most financially successful one ever till that date. The competition’s records remained still and unbroken until the 2018 World Cup, which shows how favorable the tournament was in the

United States

.

Even though Brazil lost out on the chance to host another World Cup, they ended up winning the tournament after beating Sweden 1-0 in the semifinals and later winning 3-2 against Italy in the penalty shootouts after drawing 0-0 in the official time. With this title, Brazil became the first nation to win the World Cup a record four times.

1998 France

  • Winner: France

The 1998 World Cup was the era of Zidane’s prime, who led his country to their very first World Cup title in a dramatic fashion. Nations such as Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa made their very first appearances in this particular tournament and Croatia were placed third despite the fact that it was their first time competing.

With the

Netherlands

, Brazil, France and Croatia qualifying for the semifinals, it was France who bested Brazil 3-0 in the final despite being one man short. This victory might not have been possible had it not been for current Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane’s heroics, who managed to score a brace as Emmanuel Petit added another goal in the 90th minute.

2002 Japan/South Korea

  • Winner: Brazil

With only three countries namely Mexico, South Korea and Japan bidding to host the 2002 World Cup, the next FIFA World Cup location was decided to be shared between Japan and South Korea, who had in fact initially agreed to make a joint-bid. It was the first World Cup to be hosted by two nations as the joint-bid was voted by acclamation instead of a ballot.

This co-hosting bid created logistical problems for both South Korea and Japan, with FIFA also facing planning issues prior and during the tournament. This led to the federation officially stating that a joint-bid would no longer be accepted. Of course this rule has since been overturned years later for the 2026 World Cup. It was once again Brazil’s turn to take the trophy home as they beat Germany 2-0 in the final to win the World Cup a record 5 times.

2006 Germany

  • Winner: Italy

Who could forget the 2006 World Cup? Who could forget Zinedine Zidane’s bitter goodbye to international football as he was sent off in the final against Italy after head-butting Marco Materazzi for allegedly provoking him by swearing at his mother and sister? The media blew up as the world saw one of the greatest midfielders of all time leave the pitch from beside the golden trophy as his team were bested by the Italians and he was not there to save them.

Of course the final, where Italy defeated France 5-3 in penalties to win their fourth World Cup title, was not the only time where controversy had surrounded the 2006 World Cup. In fact it took FIFA a whole World Cup to introduce a short-lived rotational policy.

2010 South Africa

  • Winner: Spain

It seems that the voting for the 2006 World Cup was not enough controversy for FIFA as they were involved in yet another dirty business. While initially countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa had bid to host the 2010 World Cup, the voting got to be between Egypt, Morocco and South Africa as Nigeria withdrew their bid and the co-hosting offer from Tunisia and Libya was denied by FIFA.

The dirty business mentioned above was later confirmed as FIFA Executive Chick Blazer co-operated with the FBI and the Swiss Authorities, confessing that he alongside other members of FIFA’s executive committee had accepted bribes in return for selecting South Africa as the 2010 World Cup hosts. It was also reported that Morocco had initially received the most votes, but the hosting chance was given to South Africa as the nation’s delegates had paid more than $10 million in bribes to then-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and other members of the federation’s executive committee.

2014 Brazil

  • Winner: Germany

2014 was the year that a whole nation cried. It will be written in history books as the hosts were utterly humiliated by the Germans, who subsequently went on to become the champions. With Brazil winning the bid to host the 2014 World Cup despite their financial problems which led to many violent protests throughout the country, Brazilians were at least hoping to see their national team keep the trophy at home by winning their sixth World Cup title. But sadly they were severely defeated in the semifinals by Germany, who scored a record seven goals in quick succession to win the game 7-1.

In fact many even theorized that Germany backed away from scoring even more goals and even allowed Brazil to score a consolation goal in the 90th minute. The whole nation was crying that day as the world was shocked after watching the jaw-dropping match between the two giants. Germany went on to win the 2014 World Cup after beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina 1-0 thanks to a late extra time goal from Mario Gotze.

2018 Russia

  • Winner: France

Russia were selected to be the

next FIFA World Cup location

after Brazil as they won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup after competing against England, a joint-bid from Belgium and Netherlands and another alliance between Spain and Portugal. While FIFA had previously implemented a rotational policy after the controversial 2006 World Cup, they later stated that they were not going to continue with the same policy for the 2018 World Cup and any country could bid to host the tournament from then on.

Of course another policy was implemented instead, which stated that only countries from those confederations who had not hosted either of the past two World Cups could bid to host the tournament. This was the year that Croatia created history with the help of their captain

Luka Modric

—who later won the Ballon d’Or for his heroics—as they reached the final by beating Russia in the quarterfinals and England in the semifinals. But their hopes and dreams were crushed by France who defeated them 4-2 in the final.

2022 Qatar/2026 Canada, Mexico, USA

  • Winner: TBD

The next FIFA World Cup location was announced to be Qatar, who had competed against the likes of the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to win the hosting rights for the tournament. Since the announcement, there have been numerous protests against this decision as many believe that Qatar has violated the human rights on several occasions and does not treat its workers properly. The outrage caused by the decision has even reached many footballers as they have voiced their concern over the fact that the tournament is going to be held in Qatar.

Hopefully the tournament can at least begin as normally as it can and won’t be cancelled just like the 2020 Euros due the recent pandemic. FIFA has also decided on the next host of the World Cup, with the 2026 World Cup to be held in the three countries of Canada, Mexico and the United States, who have agreed to cohost the tournament after receiving a total of 134 votes in comparison to Morocco’s 65 votes. Will Morocco ever get to host the tournament? We shall see as they are planning on bidding again for the 2030 World Cup.

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