History of the Soccer World Cup
FIFA World Cup Trophy (Supplied)
Cape Town - With the 2018 Soccer World Cup kicking off on June 14, a look at all the past tournaments dating back to the inaugural event in 1930.
Football's showpiece returned to Brazil
but the host nation suffered one of the greatest humiliations in its
illustrious World Cup history as they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in
The team's new star Neymar was missing after being injured in their
quarter-final win over Colombia, but nothing could erase the
embarrassment of that day in Belo Horizonte which was Brazil's worst
defeat in 100 years of competitive football.
In the final, Germany met Lionel Messi's Argentina in Rio de Janeiro.
The Argentines had overcome the Netherlands on penalties in the last
four. A tense, closely-matched final was decided by Mario Goetze's goal
in extra time as the Germans became world champions for the fourth time.
South Africa 2010
The first finals on African soil
were full of colour and noise - the drone of vuvuzelas was the
soundtrack of the tournament - but the football often failed to match
up to the backdrop.
Six African nations took part but only Ghana survived the group
stages, going on to the quarter-finals where they lost to Uruguay on
penalties. South Africa started brightly but became the first hosts to
be eliminated in the first round.
Spain, and their talented generation that had won the 2008 European
crown, won the World Cup for the first time thanks to an extra-time goal
from Andres Iniesta in the final against the Netherlands.
It was Spain's fourth successive 1-0 win after beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany by the same score en route to the final.
The World Cup finals returned to Germany
after a 32-year absence and were widely acclaimed as a triumph for the
host nation, sparking a huge upsurge in national pride.
The final though was scarred by a Zinedine Zidane headbutt.
The tournament heralded a return to prominence for the European
super-powers, with all four semi-finalists hailing from Europe for the
first time since 1982 after Brazil and Argentina went out in the
Argentina captured the imagination with a peerless 6-0 thrashing of
Serbia and Montenegro in the group phase but they were sent packing
after a penalty shootout defeat to the hosts.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil, meanwhile, fell to a resurgent France.
Germany's crowd-pleasing run came to an end in a 2-0 semi-final
defeat to Italy, while a Zidane penalty allowed a much-maligned France
to overcome Portugal.
Marcello Lippi's Italy won the final - their fourth success - on
penalties, with left-back Fabio Grosso sweeping home the decisive
spot-kick after the game ended 1-1.
The abiding image of the final, however, was Zidane's scarcely
believable headbutt on Italy goalscorer Marco Materazzi and a red card
in his last ever match.
Japan and South Korea 2002
The 2002 finals were the
first ever to be staged outside Europe or the Americas and the first in
Asia as South Korea and Japan co-hosted.
The build-up was dominated by fears over security following the
September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, and
anti-aircraft missile batteries were deployed around the new stadia.
In the event, the tournament passed off peacefully and the only shocks were on the field.
Upsets were to prove the hallmark of the tournament from the outset,
when World Cup debutants Senegal beat holders France with a 1-0 win in
the opening match in Seoul.
France's demise was one of the most striking surprises of the finals.
They failed to score a goal and managed only a draw and two defeats to
crash out miserably in the first round, the worst performance by any
But the most notable outsiders were hosts South Korea, who recorded
wins over Portugal, Italy and Spain before bowing out in the last four
Two of the World Cup's greatest powers - Brazil and Germany - met in the final in Yokohama.
Ronaldo, fit again after his 1998 nightmare, scored both goals as Brazil clinched a record fifth crown.
The 1998 finals were increased to 32 teams
and host nation France lifted the trophy, Aime Jacquet's side gathered
unstoppable momentum as the tournament progressed before defeating
Brazil 3-0 in a one-sided final at the gleaming new 80 000-seat Stade de
The star of the show was Zinedine Zidane, who bounced back from the
shame of a red card against Saudi Arabia early in the competition to
score two goals in the final.
Brazil's campaign ended in mysterious circumstances, with star player Ronaldo excluded from the team-sheet for the final.
Minutes before kick-off however, Ronaldo was back in. It later
emerged the player had had a fit in his hotel room a few hours before
the final, leading many to question why he had been allowed to play.
United States 1994
Despite the USA's lack of football
pedigree, massive crowds greeted the 1994 finals and Brazil claimed
their record fourth World Cup title.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira married discipline with the abundant
Brazilian flair, and in Romario had the deadliest striker in the
Diego Maradona and Andres Escobar grabbed the early headlines.
Maradona scored an outstanding goal against Greece, memorably screaming
into a TV camera in celebration, before failing a dope test and being
slung out of the tournament. Escobar scored an own goal for Colombia
against the USA and was later shot dead in his homeland.
Roberto Baggio proved Italy's hero as they marched to the final,
saving their skin against impressive Nigeria in the second round and
grabbing the winner in the quarter-finals against Spain. Two more goals
saw off a surprising Bulgaria in the semis, but the cruellest of twists
awaited him in the final.
Brazil cruised through until a thrilling 3-2 quarter-final win over
the Netherlands put them into a semi-final clash with surprise package
Sweden, where Romario's expert finish nicked victory.
The disappointing final was the first decided by a shootout, and Baggio blasted over the bar to hand Brazil victory.
The 1990 World Cup witnessed the lowest
goals-per-game average, a deluge of sendings-off and arguably the worst
final ever seen. Just 115 goals were scored in 52 games at an average of
2.21 per game. There were 16 red cards and 164 bookings at an average
of 3.46 per match, another record. In addition penalty shootouts were
routine - four in total - including both semi-finals. Argentina
advanced at the expense of Italy and West Germany beat England.
Appropriately it was a penalty, by Andreas Brehme for the Germans,
that decided a sorry final which included two sendings off for the
Argentines. It was West Germany's third World Cup win.
Argentina's performance was typical of the tournament. They reached
the final despite winning only two games and scoring five goals in
total. Maradona finished the final in tears.
Cameroon, inspired by the veteran Roger Milla, reached the
quarter-finals, while the unheralded Toto Schillaci hit six goals for
Italy to finish top scorer.
As in 1970, the players had to endure searing heat and thin air - and midday kick-offs, thanks to television schedules.
The match of the tournament took place in the quarter-finals, when
Zico's Brazil faced Michel Platini-inspired France, who had already
knocked out holders Italy, in Guadalajara. A flowing match finished 1-1
before France won the penalty shootout 4-3.
Diego Maradona established himself as the star of the tournament. The
Argentine's infamous 'Hand of God' goal, when he punched the ball into
the net, and a spectacular solo effort put paid to England in the last
eight and he produced more magic to see off Belgium in the semi-finals.
West Germany beat France in the semi-finals, just as they had four
years earlier, but in the final they were quickly 2-0 down to Argentina,
Jose Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano scoring. Somehow the Germans
recovered. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller netted in the closing
stages to force extra-time, only for Maradona, inevitably, to send Jorge
Burruchaga through for the winner. Not since Pele in 1970 had one man
so inspired a team to glory.
The number of entrants increased to 24 and two round-robin stages were used to determine the semi-finalists.
Brazil, with Zico, Eder and Socrates in full flow, caught the eye in
the early stages, while Italy limped into the second round with three
highly uninspiring draws. Suddenly the Italians - and recalled striker
Paolo Rossi - sparked to life, beating Brazil 3-2 to reach the
semi-finals, where they defeated Poland 2-0.
West Germany edged past hosts Spain and England into the semi-finals,
where they faced France in a contest that left a bitter taste. The
match, which finished 3-3 after extra-time, was marred by a diabolical
challenge from West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick
Battiston. Incredibly Schumacher stayed on the pitch, and proceeded to
make the saves that earned his side a 5-4 win in the penalty shootout.
Rossi's predatory skills were too much for West Germany in the final,
however. He opened the scoring in the second half, and the Italians won
3-1, matching Brazil's achievement of winning three World Cups.
Despite a threatened boycott by several
nations in protest at the Videla military regime, all the qualifiers
assembled in Argentina. The same format as 1974 was adopted - two group
phases and no knockout stages - and controversy surrounded Argentina's
passage into the final.
The Argentines, for whom the long-haired Mario Kempes was a
revelation up front, romped to a 6-0 win over Peru in their final match
of the second phase to oust Brazil on goal difference, prompting cries
of fix from their South American rivals.
Holders West Germany failed to beat the Netherlands or Italy and were
eliminated after a 3-2 loss to Austria. The Dutch thrashed the
Austrians 5-1 to reach the final again, but they were without their
master Johan Cruyff, who had stayed at home.
Once again the Dutch were beaten, to the delight of the 77 260 crowd
in Buenos Aires. Argentina took the lead through Kempes after 37 minutes
before substitute Dirk Nanninga equalised late on. In extra time Kempes
restored Argentina's lead and Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1, leaving
captain Daniel Passarella to lift Argentina's first World Cup.
West Germany 1974
The 1974 World Cup in West Germany
saw a new format, with the quarters and semi-finals scrapped in favour
of two group phases. It also saw the birth of "total football" - the
Netherlands of the brilliant Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer's West
Germany were the leading exponents of the new art which involved players
switching positions at will to open up defences.
The highlight of the first round came when East Germany shocked West
Germany 1-0 in Hamburg, Jurgen Sparwasser scoring the goal. The result
meant the hosts avoided the Netherlands and Brazil in the next round.
The Dutch were a delight as they romped into the second stage, and
victories over East Germany, Argentina and Brazil secured them a place
in the final. There they faced West Germany, who had seen off an
impressive Poland in the other group, and barely a minute from the start
the Dutch went ahead when Cruyff won a penalty, scored by Johan
Neeskens. However, Paul Breitner equalised after 25 minutes and just
before half-time Gerd Muller scored the clincher.
Fears that Mexico's high altitude and
stifling heat would hinder attractive play were totally unfounded as the
tournament produced a feast of attacking football.
Brazil, with Pele back at his best, were magnificent. They beat
holders England 1-0 in the group stage, despite Gordon Banks' now
legendary save from Pele, and roared into the knockout stages with
Jairzinho on fire.
With the imperious Franz Beckenbauer and the deadly Gerd Muller in
their ranks, West Germany gained revenge for their defeat in the 1966
final by recovering from 2-0 down to England to win 3-2 after extra time
in the last eight. Their semi-final match with Italy was just as
dramatic, the Italians eventually coming through 4-3 in extra-time after
another seesaw encounter. Brazil marched past Peru in the
quarter-finals and then saw off Uruguay 3-1 in the semis.
Italy never stood a chance in the final as the South Americans gave
what is probably their most celebrated exhibition of "the beautiful
game". Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho and, gloriously, Carlos Alberto, scored
in a 4-1 rout of the Italians. Brazil were allowed to keep the Jules
Rimet trophy having won it three times.
Football returned to the country that gave the world the game 103 years earlier - England.
The England team under the tactically astute Alf Ramsey advanced in
solid if unspectacular style to the semi-finals, where they faced a
Eusebio-inspired Portugal who had eliminated an ageing Brazilian side
with a 3-1 victory in the group stage.
Two brilliant efforts by Manchester United's Bobby Charlton put paid to the Portuguese 2-1 at Wembley.
West Germany, coaxed by new find Franz Beckenbauer, defeated the
Soviet Union at Goodison Park to take their place at the home of
football for the final.
Helmut Haller put the Germans ahead but Geoff Hurst equalised before
half-time. Martin Peters looked to have clinched the cup for the hosts
until Wolfgang Weber snatched a dramatic late equaliser to force extra
time in a final for only the second time in history.
Hurst scored twice in the additional period to become the only player
to score a World Cup final hat-trick. His second goal was highly
controversial, bouncing down off the crossbar and, according to the
linesman, over the line.
But the tournament top scorer remained Eusabio with nine goals,
including four to rescue Portugal against North Korea after they had
trailed 3-0 in the quarter-finals.
Earlier North Korea produced the shock of the tournament, beating Italy 1-0 in the group stage.
Foul play blighted a tournament which saw
European teams adopt the defensive "catenaccio" style of play
popularised at the time by Inter Milan. It led to a series of
bad-tempered ties that overshadowed the finals and deprived the World
Cup of Pele who hobbled out of the tournament in only Brazil's second
The tie between Chile and Italy became known as the Battle of
Santiago, with two Italians sent off and police storming the pitch to
Even without Pele, Brazil were too much for England in the
quarter-finals and dominated Chile in the semi-finals with Garrincha
scoring twice before getting himself sent off.
In the final, Brazil faced Czechoslovakia, who had reached that stage
largely on the back of outstanding performances by their goalkeeper
Ironically it was Schroiff's blunders in the final that helped Brazil
to a 3-1 victory and their second successive trophy. Vava became the
first player to score in consecutive finals. Brazil created a World Cup
record by using only 12 players throughout the whole tournament.
Brazil introduced two new players to the
World Cup - a bandy-legged little winger called Manuel Francisco dos
Santos, known as Garrincha, and a 17-year-old called Edson Arantes do
Nascimento, or more simply, Pele.
Nothing could stand in Brazil's way. Wales, who along with Northern
Ireland made a significant impact in this tournament, did well to limit
them to a 1-0 quarter-final win.
France, another revelation, boasted a star striker of their own in
Just Fontaine, who was to set an astonishing World Cup scoring record of
13 goals in a single tournament, but they were swept aside 6-3 in the
semi-finals as Pele fired in a hat-trick.
Hosts Sweden rode the support of the home fans into the final by
beating holders West Germany in the last four. But in the final they
were undone by the boys from Brazil, Pele and Vava grabbing two each in a
At the end of the match, the Swedish crowd gave Pele and the Brazilians a standing ovation.
West Germany returned to the
international fold nearly a decade after the end of World War II while
Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary, who had handed England a historic 6-3
defeat at Wembley prior to the finals, were installed as favourites.
The 1950 group format was abandoned, with a return to the group system followed by knockout quarter- and semi-finals.
The 'Magic Magyars' demolished West Germany 8-3 in the opening round, adding to a 9-0 hammering of South Korea.
In the quarter-finals they beat Brazil 4-2 in an ugly tie marked by three red cards.
In the final they faced West Germany again and were soon 2-0 ahead
through Puskas and Zoltan Czibor. But the Germans were level within ten
minutes and claimed a shock winner five minutes from the end when Helmut
Rahn scored his second goal to clinch their first World Cup triumph.
Many Hungarians blamed the brilliant Puskas for the defeat. He
insisted on playing despite being unfit, having been injured in the group
game against the Germans.
After an enforced break of 12 years, the World Cup resumed in South America - left relatively unscathed by the World War II.
Brazil had prepared the magnificent 200,000-capacity Maracana Stadium
in Rio de Janeiro for the event, while England made their first World
It wasn't a success. Humiliation came in the form of an early exit after a shock 1-0 defeat by the United States.
Teams were divided into four groups and the group winners went
through to a final pool, with the pool winner taking the title without
playing a final.
Disaster struck Brazil.
The host nation had thrashed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 in early
matches but stumbled in the decider - a match they needed only to draw
against Uruguay to win the title.
Before a world record crowd at the Maracana, Albino Cardosa Friaca
put Brazil ahead two minutes after half-time, but goals by tournament
top scorer Juan Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia maintained Uruguay's
unbeaten record and crowned them world champions for the second time.
With the world on the brink of conflict,
France hosted the 1938 World Cup marked by the absence of Austria, under
German occupation, and Spain, preoccupied with civil war. England were
in conflict with FIFA, and South America, peeved at not being chosen as
host after Italy 1934, sent only one representative, Brazil.
Asia was represented for the first time, by Indonesia, playing as the
Dutch East Indies, though were quickly on their way home after losing
6-0 to Hungary in the first round.
Having edged Brazil 2-1 in the semis, Italy lifted the trophy for the
second tournament in succession, defeating Hungary 4-2 in the final at
Colombes, just outside Paris.
In the semis the Hungarians demolished Sweden 5-1, despite conceding a goal after only 30 seconds.
Sixteen teams - 12 from Europe, three
South Americans (though not the holders Uruguay) and one from Africa,
Egypt - lined up for the finals, which were this time conducted purely
on a knockout basis.
Host nation Italy, under the approving gaze of Mussolini, beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final after extra-time.
The Czechs silenced the partisan 50 000 crowd when Antonin Puc scored with just 20 minutes of the match remaining.
They almost added a second when the ball struck a post before Argentine-born Raimundo Orsi scored a late equaliser for Italy.
Italy clinched their first World Cup title when Angelo Schiavio scored the winner in extra time.
Brazil and Argentina, multiple World Cup winners of the future, were
both beaten in the first round, meaning they had travelled almost 10,000
miles for just one game.
Just 13 teams took part in the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay, nine from the Americas and four from Europe.
France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia made the two-week Atlantic
Ocean odyssey to join the other teams in four groups with the winners
contesting the semi-finals.
Yugoslavia did the best of the Europeans nations by reaching the last
four where they were beaten 6-1 by Uruguay. In the other semi-final
Argentina overwhelmed the United States by an identical scoreline.
Uruguay, backed by a huge home crowd in the Centenario Stadium, beat
the Argentines 4-2 in the final after being 2-1 down at half-time.
A public holiday was declared in Uruguay. In Buenos Aires hostile fans attacked the Uruguayan embassy.