History of the World Cup


The World Cup 2022 Tournament takes place in Doha, Qatar starting Sunday, November 20, and running until December 18.

It is starting in November rather than the usual June or July to avoid Qatar’s summer heat. Thirty-two teams will compete in eight groups. It begins with the host country team facing Equador in Group A at Al Bayat Stadium. U.S. group games will kick off at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Time. Billions of viewers will tune in to watch, second only to the Olympics for sports viewership.

Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run throughout the games and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16. Unlike Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.

I was told that the World Cup, which occurs every four years, is being held this year to coincide with the U.S. midterm elections, but I doubt the veracity of that claim.

Zidane headbuttI’ve been in Europe twice during the World Cup finals. Once in Ireland in 2006, I saw France’s Zinedine Zidane’s famous “headbutt” on TV from the Germany tournament.

Another time I was in Paris in 2014 when Algeria won a game at the Brazil tournament, and the Algerians ran through the streets and subway of Paris that night yelling,

One, two, three,
Viva lAlgérie!


      Olympic Background

      Before the 1920s, the football tournament was part of the Summer Olympics. But in the ’20s, the sport was transitioning to a more professional nature that was inconsistent with the spirit of the Olympics at that time, which prided itself on amateur games.


        FIFA Background

        The FIFA World Cup was developed by two Frenchmen, Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay, who were the FIFA governing board members.

        FIFA stands for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, established in Paris in 1904 with founding member football associations from Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It expanded beyond Europe to South Africa (1909), Argentina (1912), Canada and Chile (1913), and the U.S. (1914).

        The history of the FIFA World Cup goes back over 90 years to the first official tournament held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930 because Uruguay volunteered to host, having won gold in the 1924 and 1928 Olympic football games. But worldwide football tournaments had been going on long before that.

        World War I severely limited travel for international competition, and following the War, some countries did not want to compete against former war enemies. 1942 and 1946 were the two exceptions during World War II when the FIFA World Cup was canceled.

        The FIFA Headquarters are in the hills above Zurich, Switzerland. I drove by there years ago when I was speaking in Zurich.


        FIFA HQ, Zurich

        FIFA HQ, Zurich


        History of the FIFA World Cup Trophy

        In 1946, the official trophy was called “Victory” or “Coupe du Monde,” and it was renamed the James Rimet Trophy in 1946 for the FIFA president who organized the first tournament. It was a golden double-winged statue of the Greek god Nike.


        Jules Rimet "Victory" Trophy

        Jules Rimet “Victory” Trophy


        But it was stolen in 1966 while on exhibition in London, and the thief was jailed for two years. Part of it disappeared again in 1970 and was stolen in 1983. But a new design since 1974 called the FIFA World Cup Trophy made of 18-karat solid gold, 14 inches tall and 11 pounds. It is awarded to, but not kept by, the tournament’s winner. Winners receive a gold-plated bronze replica. France currently holds it since 2018. The Brazilian team has won more World Cups (5) than any other country.


        FIFA World Cup Trophy

        FIFA World Cup Trophy


          History of Soccer

          Football, or soccer, had official rules set in 1863 published in England when J.C. Thring, an Englishman, published the first set of rules for what he called The Simplest Game. As Brits migrated around the globe, they brought with them their favored game. By the end of World War I, it was a worldwide game.


          What’s in a name: Soccer vs. Football

          Is one American and the other British? Almost, but not entirely. The original name for the sport, going back to 1863, is association football, “football” being a shortening of that name. The word “association” was added to distinguish it from the sport of rugby, football.



          But both terms are British in origin. In the 1880s, at the University of Oxford, students possessing creative linguistic legerdemain distinguished between the sports of “rugger” (rugby football) and “assoccer” (association football). The latter term was further shortened to “soccer” (sometimes spelled “socker”), and the name quickly spread beyond the campus. But “soccer” never became much more than a nickname in Great Britain, and a century later, there was a British reaction against the use of the term.

          In the U.S., it’s necessary to distinguish association football played with a round ball from American football, the one played with an inflated porcine prolate spheroid. Since the 1980s, in British publications, the word “soccer” has been used to refer to the American context, as some British fans do not care for Americans renaming “their” sport simply to distinguish it from American football.

          But what do they do in Australia, which has Australian Rules Football?


          Sports Trivia:

          Speaking of Rugby, until the most recent 2016 Rugby Union games at the Olympics, the U.S. held the gold championship title for 96 years. They had won in 1920 and 1924, but no Rugby Union games were played at the Olympics between 1924 and 2016. The 1924 U.S. Rugby union team was made up mostly of Californians.

          1924 U.S. Rugby Olympic Team

          1924 U.S. Rugby Olympic Team (University of California, Davis Archives)


          Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian


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            About billpetro

            Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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