2022 FIFA WORLD CUP PREVIEW: A look back at history of tournament (2023)

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is expected to draw a viewership of 5 billion worldwide

Author of the article:

Derek Van Diest

Publishing date:

Oct 11, 2022October 11, 20229 minute read

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2022 FIFA WORLD CUP PREVIEW: A look back at history of tournament (1)

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The FIFA World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world.

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Held every four years, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is expected to draw a viewership of 5 billion over the tournament, surpassing the 3.5 billion viewers who tuned into the event four years ago in Russia.

2022 FIFA WORLD CUP PREVIEW: A look back at history of tournament (2)

As the Canadian national soccer teams head to their respective FIFA World Cups, Derek Van Diest is on the scene to cover all the action. Expect expert insights and analysis in your inbox daily throughout the tournaments, and weekly on Thursdays for the rest of the season.

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When France defeated Croatia in the 2018 World Cup Final, over 1 billion viewers tuned in to watch the game. By comparison, the NFL Super Bowl draws an average of 100 million viewers worldwide.

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The 2018 World Cup also generated an estimated $4.8 billion in revenue for FIFA and the tournament in Qatar is projected to surpass it, getting up towards the $6 billion range.

Canada will be participating in the World Cup for the first time since its only appearance in Mexico in 1986, where a group of semi-professionals lost all three group games and failed to score a goal.

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Canada’s best moment of the tournament came in its opening game where it frustrated the reigning European Champions France for 80 minutes until Jean-Pierre Papin scored the winning goal.

The Canadians departed Mexico after three games, while France went on to defeat Brazil in the quarter-final before losing to Germany in the semifinal. Argentina went on to win the tournament through the genius and fist of Diego Maradona.

As popular as the World Cup tournament is now, the event had humble beginnings. FIFA was formed in 1904 when countries began organizing international matches against each other.

Prior to the World Cup, the best international team in the world was determined at the Olympic soccer tournament. Uruguay won the 1924 and 1928 Olympic tournaments, pitting them as the defending world champions when FIFA awarded the first World Cup tournament to the small South American country.

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Uruguay lived up to the billing by winning the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930, defeating Argentina at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo in the final.

Since then, the World Cup has produced some of the greatest moments in sports history, along with some of the most controversial.

As a lead in to the tournament in Qatar, where Canada will participate for the first time in 36 years, Postmedia will run a preview series every week up until the opening game on Nov. 20 between the hosts and Ecuador.

We will also have extensive coverage of the tournament and the Canadian men’s national team, who will attempt to make history at the event.

Before we can look forward, however, let’s start by looking back at the previous World Cup tournaments and some of the moments that defined the event and made it the spectacular spectacle it is today.

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1930 Uruguay

The first World Cup was awarded to Uruguay who had the best international team at the time, winning gold at consecutive Olympic Games.

A total of 13 teams entered the tournament with a few notable European nations skipping the tournament due to the travel distance. A three-week, trans-Atlantic journey for a 17-day tournament was not very appealing for European teams, and only Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia made the trip after convincing from FIFA and its French president Jules Rimet, for who the original trophy was named.

The teams were divided into four groups, with Argentina, Chile, France and Mexico placed into a group of four and getting an extra first-round game.

Uruguay, Yugoslavia, Argentina and the United States made it through to the semifinal. Uruguay then defeated bitter rivals Argentina 4-2 in the final in front of nearly 70,000 spectators.

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1934 Italy

The second edition of the World Cup was awarded to Italy and with 36 countries wishing to participate, FIFA held a qualifying process for the first time.

Defending champions Uruguay refused to participate, still upset many European teams would not take part in the tournament it hosted four years earlier.

Argentina and Brazil made the trip to Italy and joined European sides Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland along with the hosts. The United States and Egypt were the only teams outside of Europe and South America to participate.

Italy was coached by the legendary Vittorio Pozzo, who guided the team to the final with a strategic tactical formation that would define the squad for nearly a century. They did benefit from some favourable refereeing decisions, attributed to the political climate at the time under prime minister Benito Mussolini.

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Italy defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final, a game requiring extra time and played in front of 55,000 spectators at the national stadium in Rome.

1938 France

The 1938 tournament stayed in Europe with France acting as hosts, which upset the South American powerhouses.

Argentina and Uruguay boycotted the tournament in protest, while Spain was unable to participate due to its civil war.

Only three non-European countries participated in the tournament, which was reduced to 15 teams when Austria was annexed by Germany prior to the event. A unified team was entered into the tournament minus one of the first superstars of the game, Austria’s Matthias Sindelar, who refused to play.

Under Pozzo, Italy defeated France in the quarter-final, Brazil in the semifinal and rising powerhouse Hungary in the final to win the tournament for a second time.

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Unfortunately, it would be the last World Cup before the Second World War and the tournament would not surface again until 1950.

1950 Brazil

Brazil was chosen to host the first post-war World Cup and with a star-studded team was expected to roll to the championship.

The United Kingdom decided to participate for the first time as England, the self-professed best team in the world, took part looking to prove its soccer superiority. They were in for a rude awakening.

The city of Rio commissioned the construction of the fabulous Maracana Stadium, which at 200,000 capacity, was the largest soccer stadium in the world.

A total of 13 teams took part in the tournament and they were divided into four groups. The top team in each group would move on to a final group, where a round-robin would decide the tournament champion. It was the only tournament not to have a final.

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England started well enough with a 2-0 victory against Chile, but then surprisingly lost 1-0 to the United States. It was a result few reading about it back home in England believed. They then lost 1-0 to Spain and returned home to reconsider its self-designation as the best.

Brazil and Uruguay ended up meeting in the final game of the tournament and due to previous results, the hosts only needed a tie to top the group and win the Jules Rimet trophy.

Uruguay, however, shocked Brazil and came back from a goal down to win 2-1. Alcides Ghiggia scored with 11 minutes left to become a legend in Uruguay and send the Brazilians into despair.

A young Brazilian named Edson Arantes do Nascimento, nicknamed Pele, attempted to console his father by telling him one day he would help the country win the World Cup. Eight years later, he did.

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1954 Switzerland

The Hungarian team who made it to the final of the 1938 tournament and boycotted the 1950 event for political reasons had come of age by 1954.

Led by the legends Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis, Hungary had a four-year undefeated streak heading into the World Cup in Switzerland.

During the group stage, Hungary defeated Turkey 4-1, pounded South Korea 9-0 and blasted Germany 8-3.

A humbled England returned to the tournament and made it out of the group stage into the quarter-final only to be eliminated by defending champions Uruguay. In the following round, Uruguay ran into the Hungarian juggernaut and lost 4-2 in extra time, in what is considered one of the greatest World Cup games in history.

Heading to face Hungary again, this time in the final, Germany was given little chance to win, considering the result of the previous game between the two teams.

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The Germans, however, had a secret weapon in a new studded shoe designed by Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas, which gave them an advantage in wet conditions.

And as luck would have it, the final was played in the rain under terrible conditions, which helped level the playing field against the talented Hungarian. Puskas was also on the mend, having sustained an ankle injury in the first game against Germany.

Dubbed the Miracle of Bern, Germany pulled off the upset, winning 3-2 in front of a packed house of 60,000 fans at the Wankdorf Stadium, battling back from a 2-0 deficit.

Puskas gave Hungary the lead two minutes into the game and they doubled it six minutes later. But Germany scored twice within the next 10 minutes, setting up an epic second half.

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Helmut Rahn scored the go-ahead goal for Germany with six minutes to go and Puskas appeared to have tied it four minutes later, but his goal was waved off for offside after a long consultation between the referee and linesman.

The Germans held on to win, while the Hungarians felt cheated. It still stands as one of the most controversial World Cup finals of all time.

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1958 Sweden

The nine-year-old Brazilian boy, who promised his father a World Cup championship turned into a 17-year-old phenom by 1958.

Brazil picked up where Hungary had left off and dazzled at the tournament with Pele and dazzling winger Mane Garrincha leading the way.

France also had a star player in Just Fontaine, who went on to score 13 goals in the tournament, a record that stands to this day. Fontaine and France, however, were no match for Pele and Brazil in the semifinal as the wonder kid scored three goals in a 5-2 win.

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In the final against the hosts Sweden, Pele scored two more, including one of the best in World Cup history, in the 5-2 win.

Up 2-1, Pele took a long pass off his chest, flicked the ball over the head of a defender and hammered a shot in past the goalkeeper. Pele broke down in tears after the game having fulfilled the promise to his father, which endeared him to soccer fans around the world.

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1962 Chile

With the World Cup growing in popularity, 52 countries entered into qualifying to determine the 16 to play in Chile.

As defending champions with a team in its prime, Brazil was heavy favourites to repeat and would not disappoint. Pele, however, was injured early in the tournament and did not play in the latter stages of the event, making way for Garrincha to shine.

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The host Chile made it to the quarter-finals having to literally fight its way past Italy in a match dubbed the Battle of Santiago.

England were Brazil’s first victims in the knockout rounds, losing in the quarter-final, while Chile fell in the semifinal to the defending champions.

In the final, Brazil was too much for Czechoslovakia winning 3-1 and claiming its second World Cup championship.

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1966 England

Desperate for international success, England hosted the tournament in 1966 fielding a talented squad led by captain Bobby Moore.

With Pele, Brazil was again considered a favourite, but did not last long in the tournament. Pele was hacked at every opportunity in its opening game against Bulgaria and the punishment continued against Hungary.

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A loss to Hungary meant Brazil needed to beat Portugal, who had a phenom of its own in Eusebio. An injured Pele and Brazil were not match for Eusebio and Portugal, who went on to win the game 3-1 eliminating the two-time defending champions.

After getting past Argentina in the quarter-final, England knocked out Portugal 2-1 in the semifinal setting up a game against rivals Germany in the final.

The matchup prompted perhaps one of the greatest ledes in sports writing history when Vincent Mulchrone of the Daily Mail wrote in his preview column; “If the Germans beat us at our national game today, we can always console ourselves with the fact that we have twice beaten them at theirs.”

England won 4-2 in extra time benefitting from a Geoff Hurst hat-trick and a goal, which to this day, is difficult to determine whether it crossed the goal line after bouncing down off the crossbar.

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Next week: Review of World Cups 1970 – 2018

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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