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50 Facts About The World Cup


In a little under a week, the biggest sporting event in the world will commence when the 20th FIFA World Cup takes place in Brazil.

While soccer still languishes behind America’s ‘Big 4’ of professional sports, the sport is undeniably the most popular in the world, and as close to religion as you can get in some nations. Somewhere in the vicinity of 715 million viewers tuned in for the 2010 World Cup final.

Right now, host nation Brazil is a 3/1 favorite to win the tournament and earn a sixth World Cup title. Argentina, Brazil’s fiercest rival, sits in second place with 4/1 odds, ahead of Germany (11/2) and defending champions Spain (6/1).

The United States is currently listed at 100/1, good enough for joint 14th place. You can find a comprehensive list of World Cup odds, courtesy of Bovada, below.

Now, to whet your appetite for the upcoming tournament, and to give you bit of a background to see what all the fuss is about, BettingSports.com has put together this list of 50 facts about the World Cup. So without further ado…


50 Facts About The FIFA World Cup

 The Tournament at Large

1. There have been 19 previous FIFA World Cups, with the first being played in 1930.

2. A total of 77 nations have participated in the World Cup finals since its inception (or 88 if you include successor states).

3. Brazil is the only nation to have appeared in every World Cup tournament.

4. 16 different countries have hosted the World Cup finals (Japan and the Republic of Korea shared hosting duties in 2002).

5. A total of 5 countries have hosted the World Cup on two occasions: Italy (1934, 1990); France (1938, 1998); Mexico (1970, 1986); Germany / West Germany (1974, 2006); and now Brazil (1950, 2014).

6. A total of 8 countries have won the World Cup: Uruguay; Italy; Germany / West Germany; Argentina; Brazil; England; France; and Spain.

7. Germany has finished in the top three in 11 tournaments, more than any other team. Germany also holds the record for 16 quarterfinals appearances, and the record for total games played with 99.

8. The 1942 and 1946 editions of the World Cup were cancelled due to World War II.

9. The 1986 World Cup in Mexico came just nine months after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake laid waste to Mexico City. Organizers worked furiously to ready the city, and its mammoth Azteca Stadium, for the event. On a lighter note, it was at this tournament that “The Wave” – the “Mexican Wave” as it’s known internationally – became (in)famous.

10. Austria qualified for the 1938 World Cup in France but after the annexation of the country into Nazi Germany earlier in the year, the team was forced to withdraw from the competition.

The World Cup Final

11. The host nation has appeared in the World Cup final on 8 occasions, emerging as champions in 6 of those matches.

12. Brazil holds the record with 5 World Cup championships.

13. Brazil and Germany have appeared in a record 7 World Cup finals each.

14. The Netherlands holds the record for most finals appearances without having lifted the trophy (3).

15. The last side to successfully defend a World Cup title was Brazil, winners in 1958 and 1962. Italy is the only other side to accomplish that feat (winning in 1934 and 1938).

16. The World Cup final has been decided via a penalty shootout twice: Brazil def. Italy in 1994 and Italy def. France in 2006.

17. 4 other finals have been decided in extra time (1934, 1966, 1978, 2010).

18. England’s Geoff Hurst is the only player to record a hat trick in the World Cup final, achieving the feat at Wembley Stadium in London in 1966.

19. Johan Neesken owns the record for fastest goal scored in a World Cup final. The Dutch midfielder found the net after just 90 seconds during the 1974 final, but his beloved Netherlands would go on to lose to West Germany.

20. France (1998), Italy (2006) and Spain (2010) all won World Cup trophies having conceded just two goals in the entire tournament.

The World Cup in South America

21. There have been 4 World Cups played in South America (1930 in Uruguay; 1950 in Brazil; 1962 in Chile; 1978 in Argentina). Colombia was due to host the 1986 tournament, but was forced to pull out following financial issues.

22. A South American side has won the tournament each time it was held in a South American country (Uruguay in 1930 and 1950; Brazil in 1962; Argentina in 1978).

23. Uruguay won the 1950 World Cup, the last time the tournament was played in Brazil.

24. Brazil has finished in the top three in the last three World Cups held on its home continent.

25. The World Cup was initially designed to be hosted by European and South American nations. The 36-year wait between the 1978 tournament and this year’s installment is by far the longest gap between tournaments hosted in South America.

Player Records

26. The record for number of goals scored by an individual in a tournament is 13, tallied by French striker Just Fontaine in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

27. The all-time leading scorer in World Cup history is Brazil’s Ronaldo, who scored 15 goals across three tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006).

28. Two players have appeared in 5 different tournaments: Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal (1950-66) and Germany’s Lothar Matthäus (1982-98). Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, who made his first appearance in 1998, is set to join them this year.

29. Lothar Matthäus also holds the record for most games played in the World Cup, having made 25 appearances.

30. Russia’s Oleg Salenko owns the record for most goals scored in an individual game at the World Cup. In a game played at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif., during the 1994 World Cup, the striker scored five times in a 6-1 victory over Cameroon.

31. Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenger recorded five consecutive clean sheets (shutouts) during the 1990 World Cup, going 517 minutes without conceding.

32. Perhaps the most famous footballer in history, Pelé is the only player to have won three World Cups. He missed the 1962 final through injury, but was retroactively given a winners’ medal in 2007.

33. Fellow Brazilian Cafu played in three World Cup finals, winning in 1994 and 2002. The defender also owns the record for most games won in the tournament (16).

34. At the tender age of 17 years and 41 days, Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside is the youngest player to have taken the field at the World Cup. At the other end of the spectrum, Cameroon’s Roger Milla appeared at the age of 42 years and 39 days.

35. Uruguay’s José Batista holds the record for fastest red card in a World Cup game. In a 1986 game against Scotland, the volatile defender was sent off after just 56 seconds, proof that for every good record there’s a bad record too.

Team USA

36. The United States has appeared in seven straight tournaments dating back to 1990. That’s more than some of football’s royalty, including Mexico (6), England (5), France (5), Netherlands (3), and Uruguay (2).

37. The United States’ best finish came in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, when the side finished third behind Uruguay and Argentina.

38. Since reemerging into the World Cup fray in 1990, the USA’s best finish came in 2002 when the side made it to the quarterfinals stage of the tournament.

39. Recently exiled Landon Donovan is the United States’ leading World Cup goal scorer with five goals. Donovan also holds the record for most World Cup appearances for the USA, having played in 12 games.

40. The most goals the United States have scored in a tournament is seven, a feat the side has achieved twice (1930; 2002)

The 2014 World Cup

41. A total of 12 cities will host matches in the 2014 World Cup.

42. A total of 32 nations will partake in the tournament.

43. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only nation making its World Cup bow at this year’s tournament.

44. The 2014 World Cup Final will be held on Sunday, July 13, at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

45. The whole cost of hosting the tournament is estimated to be $14bn.

46. $576m prize money will be distributed to participants throughout the tournament, with the winner taking home $35m.

47. In the round robin part of the tournament, Group D features 3 past world champions (Uruguay; England; and Italy).

48. In Group G, the United States will face stiff competition in Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

49. German striker Miroslav Klose can become the all-time leading scorer in World Cup history if he scores two goals in this tournament.

50. For the first time since 2002 and for just the third time in the past 10 tournaments, all previous World Cup winners will appear in this year’s tournament.


The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday, June 12. Following the opening ceremony, hosts Brazil will face Croatia in a Group A preliminary matchup at the Arena de São Paulo in São Paulo. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. local).


BettingSports.com will have coverage of the World Cup as it progresses.

You can find the latest World Cup group odds here.

Your can find the latest World Cup team props here.

You can find the latest World Cup player props here.

You can find the latest World Cup specials here.

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