FIFA World Cup Stadium Crowd

FIFA World Cup

According to FIFA, the 2022 World Cup Final – which saw Lionel Messi claim his status as the GOAT and place his hands on the solid gold trophy for the very first time – was watched by around 1.5 billion people worldwide. 

This number is hard to believe, so we can put it in perspective. Cricket – the second most popular sport in the world behind football – had its T20 World Cup in the same year, with a record TV viewership of 167 million. 

When it comes to football – especially the FIFA World Cup – the interest and passion for the sport seems to sweep every corner of the world. Even those who don’t usually tune into the sport at club level find themselves at watch parties complaining about the referee being bias or the offside rule – we all know that person.

But the 2022 World Cup was no sudden bout of football fever. The intrigue and love for the FIFA World Cup has been around for almost a century now. Since the first ever World Cup event, football as a sport has only grown, with the relay of fiercely and competitive championships adding to the history every four years. 

But where did it all start? What is the story of the World Cup, and why does it attract the attention of even the non-football fans across the globe? Let’s cut it all back and take a look:

The World Cup 101

  • The first FIFA World Cup was held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930.
  • Thirteen teams – four from Europe, seven from South America and two from North America – participated.
  • It was the only World Cup without qualification.
  • The final was watched by 93,000 spectators and the tournament was deemed a total success.
  • Since 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been played every four years – with the exception of a twelve-year break due to the Second World War.
  • Viewership and participation have grown over the last ninety-three years. Today, 32 nations compete with each other to get their hands on the prize, and the tournament reaches billions of homes around the world.

A Quick History Of The FIFA World Cup

In many ways, the popularity of the FIFA World Cup gives the illusion that it has always been around. Surely there was never a time when Germany weren’t running rampant or England weren’t on the brink of bringing it home? The wild and wonderful stories of each World Cup have almost gone down in folklore, but the stories only really began at the beginning of the twentieth century

Back at that time, football’s largest arena came in the form of the Summer Olympics. It was here that countries would battle it out for that illustrious gold medal – and, more importantly, the bragging rights – every four years. But due to the Olympics’ restrictions on professional athletes, there soon came a time when the game simply grew too big to be “just another sport” in a world sporting tournament.

This was the opinion of Jules Rimet, anyway, who was president of FIFA at the time. He was responsible for managing the football segment of the Olympics, but with the sport phasing from amateur to professional, he decreed that it could no longer be restricted to the confines of the Olympics.

Thus, the proposal of a World Cup was put on the table, and every country that was affiliated with FIFA was invited to attend. These included:

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • France
  • Mexico
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Romania
  • US
  • Uruguay
  • Yugoslavia

Siam, Egypt and Japan were also supposed to compete, but both Siam and Japan withdrew before the tournament started, and Egypt missed their ship – their time management skills have since been improved.

Despite being relatively small, the tournament was a great success, and the format of a 16-team draw was retained until 1978, when it was increased to 24, and then 1998, when it was increased to the current number of 32. In many ways, this enhancement of the tournament has only helped to elevate its popularity – as more and more countries have the chance to compete, more parts of the world are tuning in to support their country and celebrate their inclusion in one of the greatest tournaments in the world. 

In 2026, the competition is set to expand even further, with 48 teams being included in 16 groups of three teams. Once again, if we put it all in perspective, the ICC Cricket World Cup – despite its ongoing success – only features ten teams in total.

This is part of the reason why there is so much passion surrounding the FIFA World Cup. Not only does it draw in viewers because of representation, but because the victor must fight through the world rankings to win – making them indisputably the best team in the world when they lift that golden trophy. 

FIFA World Cup: Legendary Matches

Having looked at where the FIFA World Cup all started, it’s now time to ponder on some of the games and players who have added to the story and made the world cup what it is today. Over ninety-three years and twenty-two World Cups, there are quite a number to choose from – every country has a story of their own – but there are some fixtures which are impossible to forget. 

Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany, for instance, is a good place to start. Whilst the game wasn’t exactly a contest – sorry Brazilian fans – it was a prime example of a team who knew they were destined to lift that solid gold trophy at the end of the competition. Germany were unstoppable, slicing through the Brazilian defence like it was made of hot butter. They scored five goals before the half-time whistle had even sounded and left the Brazilian hosts – as well as the rest of the world – in a state of disbelief.

As well as this, there’s the outstanding 1966 World Cup Final, in which England won the trophy for the first and only time in their history. This was a fiercely competitive game, with Germany bombarding the English into extra time before Sir Geoff Hurst finished off a hat-trick to stop them in their tracks. 

For a long while, this was considered the best final ever to be played, but the World Cup of 2022 seems to have had something to say about that. With Mbappe and Messi both proving their class, the final of 2022 was eye-watering from start to finish, with both teams finishing with three goals each before Argentina stole the game during a nerve-inducing penalty shootout.

FIFA World Cup: Star Players

Those are some of the most magical fixtures we have been treated to, but what about the players that made them happen? Well, as already mentioned, Sir Geoff Hurst has to be up there among the most respected players in footballing history. He was the first player ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final and be on the winning team – scoring 24 goals in 49 England games overall.

There’s also the indisputable legend that is Pele. He played a pivotal role in Brazil’s 1958 and 1970 World Cup campaigns, subsequently becoming the youngest player to feature in – and win – a World Cup final. His goal in the 1958 final, especially, is considered to be one of the best World Cup goals ever to be scored, with the 1970 Brazilian team also dubbed as the greatest team that has ever attended a World Cup. 

Speaking of Brazil, it would be foolish not to mention Ronaldo, who single-handedly took Brazil to the trophy after a two-goal epic against Germany in 2002. In his final World Cup tournament, he became the top World Cup scorer of all time, scoring his 15th goal in the round of 16 – before eventually losing out on the accolade to Miroslav Klose.

There have been many others. Zinedine Zidane, who had twelve World Cup appearances and five goals. Diego Maradona, with twenty-one appearances and eight goals. As well as Lionel Messi, of course, who has had twenty-six appearances and thirteen goals. Every one of these players could have an entire article dedicated solely to them, such is their greatness in the realm of football, but we’re aware of time, and we’ve got a pop quiz to do!

FIFA World Cup: DAZN Bet’s Pop Quiz

That’s right – it’s time to put your knowledge to the test and see how much you really know about the FIFA World Cup. With 2026 just over three years away, you’ll have a bit of time before you actually need to utilise this knowledge, but this is just something to get you accustomed to some of the most simple facts:

Q: Who Won The First Ever World Cup?

A: Fresh off their 1928 Summer Olympics victory, Uruguay was chosen to host the first-ever World Cup, which they subsequently won in a tense final against Argentina.

Q Who Has Won The Most World Cups?

A: There’s certainly something in the water in Brazil. They are not only the most represented country in the FIFA World Cup – having been there from the very beginning – but they have won a total of five trophies in all. This is closely followed by Germany, who have four, and Italy, who also have four.

Q: What’s The Biggest Ever World Cup Scoreline?

A: There have been a number of jaw-dropping scorelines over the last ninety-three years, but the biggest ever goes back to 1954, when Austria beat Switzerland seven goals to five.

Q: Who Has Scored The Most Goals At A Football World Cup?

A: Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history, having totalled sixteen goals in twenty-four matches.

Q: Who Is The Most Successful World Cup Player?

A: The late great Pele is technically the most successful World Cup player, having won three FIFA World Cups with Brazil.

Q: What Was The Biggest Upset In A World Cup?

A: This one is a little subjective, seeing as there are so many World Cup upsets to choose from. In recent memory, however, Germany’s defeat to Japan in 2022 caused shockwaves across the world. Overall, only thirteen nations have played in a World Cup Final and Japan have never come close to any of them. In Qatar, however, they showed their wealth of talent and shocked Germany with a wonder goal only fifteen minutes before the final whistle.

Q: Where Is The Next Football World Cup Being Hosted?

A: The 2026 FIFA World Cup takes place between Thu, Jun 11, 2026 – Sun, Jul 19, 2026, hosted by Canada, Mexico and the USA and will be spread over 16 cities, with many fans and players tipping this festival of football to be the best yet. The Qatar World Cup had a fair bit of controversy surrounding it, but this is not likely to be repeated in 2026.

Our Predictions: FIFA World Cup 2026

Is there any way to predict who exactly is going to win it? In short, no. There are now three years to go before the tournament gets underway, and that means plenty of time for teams to build and develop in preparation.

Having said that, it is likely that South American and North American teams will take advantage of staying on that side of the pond. The USA has a wealth of talent, and the only reason they are not performing better on the world stage is that the NFL is far more popular, meaning more money is going into grassroots NFL players. They will be ready to put on a show at home, however, and this World Cup could be the moment the United States really rise to the challenge. 

Whether they will win it, however, is another question. History says that the best in line to take the trophy would be either France, Argentina, Brazil or Germany. Croatia and Spain have good grounds to take a shot, though, and you can never rule out countries like Portugal or Italy to go all the way. 

But hey, that’s not a prediction. Seeing as we’re so far off, we feel it’s acceptable to go a bit out there and put in a wild, impossible prediction that will make us look really intelligent if it comes off but not so unintelligent if it doesn’t. Because, hey, it’s a 2023 prediction. Can’t blame us for getting it wrong with the tournament being so far off. With this in mind, we think that the 2026 FIFA World Cup champions will be…[Redacted]. Ah well, looks like we will wait until we post the betting markets for 2026 Football World Cup to see our odds for FIFA World Cup Winners.