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Football World Cup

The World Cup is the most important competition in international football (soccer). Organised by FIFA, the sport's governing body, the World Cup finals tournament is the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, bigger than the Olympic Games.

The finals tournament is held every four years, but the World Cup competition itself takes place over a two year period. Over 160 national teams compete in regional qualifying tournaments for a place in the finals. The finals tournament now involves 32 national teams (increased from 24 in 1998) competing over a 4 week period in a previously nominated host nation. A recent innovation has allowed more than one country to act as joint hosts.

In 1970, Brazil's third victory in the tournament entitled them to keep the Jules Rimet trophy. A new trophy was then designed. Argentina, Germany (both times as West Germany), and Brazil have all won the second trophy twice. However, the current trophy will not be retired until the name plaque has been entirely filled with the names of winning nations. This will not happen until 2038.

Brazil, by a clear margin, are the most successful World Cup team overall, having won the tournament five times in total and finished as runners-up twice. Germany, three-time winners (as West Germany) and four-time runners-up (three times as West Germany), are next, while Italy have also won three trophies. Argentina and Uruguay are both two-time World Champions, although Uruguay's two successes came rather a long time ago, in the early years of the tournament.

The first FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay and ran from July 13- 30, 1930.

The next World Cup finals will be held in Germany, in 2006.

Football World Cup Tournaments
Year Host Winner Runner up Score 3rd Place 4th Place Score
1930 Uruguay Uruguay Argentina 4-2 USA & Yugoslavia -----none----- n/a
1934 Italy Italy Czechoslovakia 2-1(aet) Germany Austria 3-2
1938 France Italy Hungary 4-2 Brazil Sweden 4-2
1950 Brazil Uruguay Brazil n/a1 Sweden Spain n/a
1954 Switzerland West Germany Hungary 3-2 Austria Uruguay 3-1
1958 Sweden Brazil Sweden 5-2 France West Germany 6-3
1962 Chile Brazil Czechoslovakia 3-1 Chile Yugoslavia 1-0
1966 England England West Germany 4-2(aet) Portugal USSR 2-1
1970 Mexico Brazil Italy 4-1 Germany Uruguay 1-0
1974 West Germany West Germany Netherlands 2-1 Poland Brazil 1-0
1978 Argentina Argentina Netherlands 3-1(aet) Brazil Italy 2-1
1982 Spain Italy West Germany 3-1 Poland France 3-2
1986 Mexico Argentina West Germany 3-2(aet) France Belgium 4-2(aet)
1990 Italy West Germany Argentina 1-0 Italy England 2-1
1994 United States Brazil Italy 0-0(pen 3-2) Sweden Bulgaria 4-0
1998 France France Brazil 3-0 Croatia Netherlands 2-1
2002 S. Korea & Japan Brazil Germany 2-0 Turkey South Korea 3-2
2006 Germany            
2010 Africa2            
* aet: after extra time; pen: result decided by penalties. In 1950 there was no final or third place play off.

1 There was no official World Cup final match in 1950, however Uruguay's 2-1 defeat of Brazil put them ahead on points and ensured that they won the tournament.
2 For the 2010 World Cup; FIFA are only accepting bids from African nations. So far Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia have shown an interest in hosting the competition.

See also: FIFA Women's World Cup