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20 Super Facts and Stats About the FIFA World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin on the 21st of November this year, with Qatar acting as host for the first time. While it might seem strange for some fans to have a winter World Cup in lieu of the traditional summer schedule, it will remain a spectacle unmatched by a few other sporting events. Around half the world’s population usually tunes in to watch the World Cup, something unmatched by even the Super Bowl or Olympic Games.

As the big show in Qatar draws ever closer, we thought we would lay out some facts about the greatest show on earth: 

  1. There have been 21 World Cup tournaments so far. The first was held in 1930, and they have been held every four years since that time, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 which saw the finals canceled due to the Second World War.
  2. Brazil has won the tournament most times, with five victories coming in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. Despite being favorites in the current World Cup odds, it’s worth remembering that it’s been 20 years since their last victory.
  3. While Brazil has the most World Cup Final victories, Germany is arguably the more consistent team with four (1958, 1974, 1990, and 2014) titles and eight finals overall. In total, Brazil scored 229 goals in the World Cup, and Germany 226. Both nations have played 109 World Cup games.
  4. Brazil has appeared in every World Cup since 1930 and is the only nation to do so. In 2022 in Qatar, Brazil will make its 22nd consecutive appearance. The Brazilians have never failed to make it past the group stages.
  5. The Netherlands is arguably the unluckiest team, having played three Finals (1974, 1978, 2010) without winning the tournament. Uruguay, England, and Spain can claim to be the only nations never to have lost a World Cup Final.
  6. England fans might argue that their team is a little more unlucky than The Netherlands. The 3 Lions have exited at the quarter-final stage eight times, more than any other nation.
  7. Only teams from Europe and South America have reached the World Cup Final. The best performance by a non-UEFA or COMMEBOL team was in 2002 when South Korea made the Semi-Finals and in 1930 when the USA finished in 3rd place.
  8. Overall, Europe has a better record than South America, with European nations having won 12 titles to South America’s nine. European teams have won every World Cup since Brazil held the trophy in 2002.
  9. Overall, European teams have made the quarter-finals 100 times – more than the rest of the world (44) combined. Every World Cup Final, apart from the first one (Argentina vs. Uruguay), has had a European team.
  10. The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, and Italy are the nations that have hosted more than once. The USA will host (jointly) for the second time in 2026.
Super Facts and Stats About the FIFA World Cup
  1. 2002 was the first time the World Cup was played in different countries, as South Korea and Japan were joint hosts. 2026 will see three hosts – USA, Mexico, and Canada.
  2. Host nations have won the World Cup six times: Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), England (1966), West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), and France (1998).
  3. Is there a curst of the defending champion? Four times in the last five tournaments, we have seen the champions exit at the Group Stage. Most recently, this occurred when Germany crashed out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
  4. Miroslav Klose (Germany) is the top scorer in World Cup history with 16 goals. Ronaldo (Brazil) is second with 15 goals. But the most prolific World Cup scorer by a distance is Just Fontaine (France), who scored 13 goals in just 6 appearances.
  5. Pele is the only player to have won three World Cups – 1958, 1962, and 1970. He spent much of the 1962 tournament injured (teams were said to have targeted the legendary player), so he did not receive a medal. FIFA decided to retrospectively give him one in 2017.
  6. Lothar Matthaus (Germany/West Germany) has made the most appearances overall with 25. However, Paolo Maldini (Italy) spent the most minutes on the pitch – 2,217. Miroslav Klose has won the most matches (17) as a player.
  7. Norman Whiteside (Northern Ireland) is the youngest player to have appeared in a World Cup, playing Yugoslavia when he was aged 17 and 41 days in 1982. The oldest player is Egypt’s Essam al Hadary, who appeared in the 2018 World Cup aged 45 and 161 days.
  8. Three people have won the World Cup as both players and head coaches: Mario Zagallo for Brazil in 1958 and 1970; Franz Beckenbauer for West Germany in 1974 and 1990; Didier Deschamps for France in 1998 and 2018.
Super Facts and Stats About the FIFA World Cup
  1. It’s debatable who are the greatest rivals in the World Cup, but we can argue that Argentina and Germany have the most history. The two nations have played each other a record five times in the knockout stages, including three World Cup Finals.
  2. Juventus of Italy has sent the most players to the World Cup (128). However, 1022 players have gone to the World Cup while representing Premier League teams.
Harrison Jones
Harrison Jones
Harrison has been a freelance financial reporter for the past 6 years. He knows the major trends in the financial world. Jones’ experience and useful tips help people manage their budgets wisely.


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