THE BLOG

A Guide to the FIFA World Cup -- Past, Present and Future

03/27/2014 06:11 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2014
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For some, the FIFA World Cup needs no introduction; Brazilian flair, German resilience and Spanish tiki-taka dominance. Most of the globe is getting excited for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer, but for those of you who haven't yet felt the magic of the World Cup, here's a look through some of it's history, so you can start feeling the magic, too.

The world's first international football competition was staged at the 1920 Summer Olympics, held in and won by, Belgium. The competition continued within the Olympics during 1924 and 1928, and due to it's success FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), decided to stage its own international football competition outside of the Olympics. Uruguay were currently two-time world champions having won the Olympic competition in 1924 and 1928, and to celebrate their centenary of independence, FIFA named Uruguay as the host for the first inaugural World Cup tournament in 1930. In the final match, Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2 in front of a crowd of 93,000 people in Montevideo, becoming the first nation to win the FIFA World Cup.

The most successful country in World Cup history are Brazil, having claimed the trophy five times in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Brazil is widely held as the greatest nation to ever play the game, and as the saying goes, "England invented it, Brazil perfected it."

Italy has won the second highest number of World Cup titles with four, in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006, the most of any European country. Next is Germany with three titles, in 1954, 1974 and 1990. Uruguay (1930 and 1950) and Argentina (1978 and 1986) have won two each. Traditionally competitive at football on a world stage England (1966), France (1998) and Spain (2010) have all claimed only one each.

Countries who have won the FIFA World Cup display their success with a gold star for each World Cup title, placed proudly above their nations badge on their international football shirt.

Since the 1930 FIFA World Cup the competition continued to grow, extended to 24 teams in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998. A record 204 teams entered the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, all vying for a place in the biggest football competition on earth and for a chance to win the coveted Jules Rimet trophy. Named after the French football administrator and third president of FIFA, the Jules Rimet World Cup Trophy has its own rich vein of history and myth.

During World War II, the trophy was held by Italy, winners in 1938. Ottorino Barassi, the Italian vice-president of FIFA, secretly transported the trophy from a bank in Rome and hid it in a shoe box under his bed to prevent it from being stolen by the Nazis.

However, the trophy was stolen from Westminster Central Hall in England where it was being exhibited prior to the 1966 World Cup there. Although heavily guarded around the clock, the trophy was lifted from its cabinet and discovered missing by a security guard on his circuit on 20th March. It was later found by an unexpected duo -- local civilian David Corbett and his dog 'Pickles' on March 27th, when the dog sniffed it out under a suburban hedge outside Corbett's house.

The Jules Rimet was replaced with the FIFA World Cup Trophy in 1974 after Brazil won the right to keep the trophy outright in 1970. It was later stolen again in 1983 and has never been recovered, widely believed to have been melted down and sold.

The FIFA World Cup occurs every four years and nations bid as to where it will be held, and this year Brazil, is the host. Bidding and selection is a controversial process, seen by many as very corrupt. This discord was most recently brought to light by the controversial bids FIFA accepted from Russia for World Cup 2018 and Qatar for World Cup 2022 during the 2007 bidding process, claiming the honour over countries like England, Spain and Portugal, seen by most as preferable choices due to their high standard of stadium, transport and hospitality.

Accepting Qatar could also see a change to the traditional months in which the tournament has always been played, between June and July. Due to Qatar's overwhelmingly hot summers, there's speculation that it will have to take place between November and January, while all of Europe's top leagues are still in contention.

The FIFA World Cup is sought after and contested because it brings an influx of millions of pounds to the host countries economy. During the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the projected total direct economic value for GDP (gross domestic product) was approximately $21.3 billion. 159,000 new jobs were also predicted, including full and part-time, both permanent and temporary.

Spain enter the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as reigning champions, having claimed the trophy in 2010 by beating Netherlands 1-0 in extra time in Johannesburg. They later went on to win the 2012 UEFA European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, defeating Italy 4-0 in the final. However, contrary to their recent success, Spain is merely fourth favourites in the early betting stakes. Brazil, the host nation is the favourite to reclaim the trophy on 13th July, with local rivals Argentina second and Germany third.

The FIFA World Cup gives us the opportunity to see the greatest football players in the world compete against each other in the biggest football tournament on earth, for the most coveted prize in football history. Rivalries only seen at the FIFA World Cup -- USA vs. Mexico, England vs. Germany and Brazil vs. Argentina, the Brazilian samba, the Spanish salsa and the Ghanaian spirit -- all clash on one spectacular stage as the pinnacle of world football, delighting ravenous fans everywhere.

The passion, culture and team pride - colours of 32 different national uniforms like 32 vibrant flags, bring a flair for the beautiful game that's unrivaled. It's truly a sight to behold, and for football fans near and far there's no sporting event on earth that comes close.

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