15 Fun Facts About the FIFA World Cup
The World Cup Trophy is Made from Solid Gold
The official FIFA World Cup trophy was first awarded in 1974 and is made of 11 pounds of 18 karat gold (worth over $150,000). The trophy is given to the winning nation to hold for 4 years until the next competition. Since the winner does not get to keep the trophy, they recieve a gold-plated replica in its place.
The First FIFA World Cup Was Held in 1930
The very first World Cup tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930, and at the time only 13 countries participated. Uruguay won the tournament over Argentina 4-2. A lesser known event called the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy occured in 1909 which called up the best club teams from England, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland — it’s sometimes referred to as the “First World Cup.”
Handballs Heavily Impacted 2 World Cup Games
The handball is basically the dirtiest play in soccer, but it majorly changed the course of a game twice in World Cup history. The original “Hand of God” play took place in 1986 when Argentina’s Diego Maradona tipped the ball into the goal with his hand in a battle with the goalkeeper. It caused Argentina to win the game 2-1.
In the 2010 World Cup match between Ghana and Uruguay, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez blocked a shot at the goal line with his hands and earned a red card. However, Ghana missed the resulting penalty kick and eneded up losing the game in a shootout. Suarez later said, “The Hand of God now belongs to me.”
The Fastest World Cup Red Card Took Just 56 Seconds
The history of the World Cup has been filled with hundreds of red cards and thousands of yellow cards, but the fastest red came in 1986. Uruguay’s Jose Baptista only managed to stay on the pitch against Scotland for 56 seconds before he earned a red card and was done for the match.
Only 8 Countries Have Ever Won the World Cup
The FIFA World Cup has been held 19 times in its history, with tournaments occurring every 4 years since 1930 except for 1942 and 1946 because of World War II. Despite over 200 countries currently completing in FIFA, only 8 countries have ever won the tournament so far. Brazil holds the most titles with 5, Italy second with 4, and Germany third with 3.
“Vanishing Spray” Debuted at the 2014 World Cup
Marking off where free kicks should be taken or where walls can be formed has always been tough for soccer officials. Luckily, a new invention debuted at the 2014 World Cup that people are calling “vanishing spray.” The referees are carrying a small aerosol can that contains a white foam that easily shows where players should stand. Amazingly, the foam evaporates and completely disappears within 60 seconds.
The Original World Cup Trophy Was Stolen
Before the FIFA World Cup Trophy was created, winners of the tournament received the Jules Rimet Trophy. Named after the first FIFA President, the trophy carried the stipulation that the first team to win the tournament three times got to keep it. Brazil accomplished this in 1970 and it was put on display… but it was stolen in 1983 and never seen again.
22 World Cup Matches Have Ended on a Penalty Shootout
The penalty kick shootout is one of the most exciting moments in all of sports, especially when it happens on a grand stage like the World Cup. Of all the matches throughout the years, 22 of them have ended in a shootout. Only two of those occured in the final match, when Brazil beat Italy in 1994 and when Italy beat France in 2006.
Mexico Has the Most Top 16 Finishes Without Winning
It might be surprising to hear that Mexico actually has the fifth most appearances of any country in World Cup history, but they have never won the tournament. In fact, Mexico has never lost in the group stage. These kings of mediocrity finished in the top 16 a whopping 12 times and only appeared in the top 8 twice.
Pele is the Only Player with 3 World Cup Titles
The name Pele is basically sacred in the soccer world. This incredible Brazilian player dominated the game during the 1960s and helped his team to win three World Cups in 1958, 1962, and 1970 (he didn’t play in the final match in 1970). Pele was also the youngest player to ever win a championship at 17 years and 249 days old.
Turkey Scored the Fastest Goal in World Cup History
The fastest goal in World Cup history took place in 2002 in a match between Turkey and South Korea. The South Koreans had the ball first and passed it back to the defense, but the ball was stolen by Turkey and a goal was scored in just 11 seconds by Hakan Sukur.
Goal-Line Technology Debuted at the 2014 World Cup
For a goal to count in soccer, the ball must completely pass the line. Judging this has been nearly impossible for officials in the past, and even caused England to win its lone World Cup title back in 1966. A new technological advancement called GoalControl was developed that uses 14 seperate cameras to determine the ball’s location in 3D space. GLT became and official part of the 2014 World Cup when it confirmed an own goal by Honduras in the first round.
Two Men Have Played in 5 World Cups Slide
With the World Cup only occurring every four years, most players are lucky to score two or three appearances. However, there are two men who played in five World Cups, Lothar Matthaus of Germany and Antonio Carbajal of Mexico. Matthausof played between 1982-1998 and holds the record at 25 games played.
South Africa is the Only Host Country to Lose in the 1st Round
Being the host country for the World Cup usually leads to a strong performance. The host country has won the tournament 6 times and had never lost in the first round of the tournament until 2010, when South Africa failed to make it out of their group.
Italy Scored the Latest Goal in World Cup History
Italy and Germany’s match in 2006 was deadlocked at 0-0 for the entire game, but the tie was broken at the 119th minute with a Fabio Grosso goal at the 119th minute. Just two minutes later, Italy recorded the latest goal in World Cup history when Alessandro Del Piero scored on the 121st minute of play.