With the 2018 World Cup fast approaching, football fans all around the world are struggling to contain their growing levels of excitement and apprehension. 32 of the world’s leading footballing nations will face off in what has become the ultimate test of a countries football prowess. However, it may be surprising to hear that the World Cup hasn't always had this sort of support.
The first World Cup took place back in 1930, just 12 years after World War One, and during a time where many nations were slipping into recession. Though football was a popular sport, the world appeared to have more important things to worry about and only 12 teams took place in that first competition. It was host nation Uruguay that came out on top as they beat fellow South American rival Argentina 4-2.
The World Cup grows in popularity
As you might imagine, the 1930s and 1940s saw little in the way of excitement for the World Cup, as World War 2 and the ensuing Global Depression left nations ruined. But the 1950s heralded a new age of prosperity, and with it, growing love for international football. The 1950 World Cup took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was here that this now great footballing nation made the World Cup a global phenomenon.
The Brazilian government agreed to finance the construction of the biggest football stadium ever built. Even England could no longer watch from the sidelines and entered their first ever World Cup side. In front of a crowd of over 200,000 people, Uruguay once again lifted the trophy, having beaten out Brazil 2-1.
In 1958, Brazil finally got the recognition they deserved when they beat Sweden 5-2 in the final. More importantly, it was at this point that the world got to see the legendary Pele in all his glory. He scored a hat-trick against France and 2 of the 5 goals seen in the final. It was with his help that Brazil also went on to win the 1962 and 1970 World Cup tournaments as well. Though let's not forget it was England who won the intervening 1966 World Cup!
A new age of football
The 1974 World Cup was a real turning point in the tournament’s history. Up until that point, the competing teams had been made up mostly from Europe and South America. But all of a sudden, Australia was a part of the mix, and so was the Sub-Saharan nation of Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Germany came out on top that year, followed by Argentina in 1978 and Italy claimed their third title in 1982.
Since this time, the World Cup has grown ever more rapidly in popularity. In 2002, another landmark year occurred with the tournament was held in Asia for the very first time. It was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea. As of 2018, Brazil remains the record holding nation for most World Cup wins. However, Germany have put on an almost equally impressive performance throughout the years, having won it 4 times and having been the team with the most appearances in the final.
Becoming the most popular sporting event in the world
The first World Cup to be broadcast around the world was the 1954 tournament. However, 1970 made use of new technological developments as it saw matches being broadcast in fantastic technicolour. Millions tuned in to witness Brazil’s victory, and the popularity of the event has only grown since then.
In 2014, more than 1 billion people tuned in to watch Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final. It is estimated that the tournament as a whole reached viewership of 3.2 billion people. Which equates to roughly 44.4% of the entire global population. This places the World Cup as the most popular sporting event in the world, beating out even the Olympic Games.
What about the World Cup trophy?
The first world cup trophy was a golden statue of the Greek God Nike, and it spent the wartime years hidden under the bed of an Italian official for safe keeping. The trophy has a rich and exciting history all unto itself, and we will explore that in a future article. For now, however, you can still get your hands on your very own bespoke football trophy.
Though your team might not draw crowds of 3.2 billion, we can offer some awesome trophies and cups to help make your tournament special and memorable. You can click here to check out the entire range of high-quality football trophies we currently offer.