There is no competition in football that can match the World Cup. Even if the UEFA Champions League produces games of comparable quality, it can’t match the prestige that comes with a long history and the fact that one team represents an entire country. No other sporting event compares in terms of popularity: the most recent FIFA World Cup attracted over three billion television audience worldwide, with one billion tuning in to watch the final.
Prior to the World Cup, the football tournament held as part of the Summer Olympics was regarded as the most prestigious. However, in the 1920s, the game was undergoing a professionalisation process that was incompatible with the Olympic spirit. As a result, FIFA, the governing body, made preparations to host a World Cup. On May 26, 1928, the decision to organise the first edition was officially announced.
The first official World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930, and it has been held every four years since then, with exceptions for interruption due to the Second World War. However, there were informal pre-FIFA World Cups as early as the late 1800s, when there were few national teams. The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, held in 1909 and 1911, was another unofficial “world cup” held before 1930. Aside from that, the Summer Olympic football competitions would serve as a barometer of which countries had the best national teams prior to 1930. The Olympic tournaments, on the other hand, featured only amateur teams; the World Cup, on the other hand, became the “real deal.”
One notable feature of World Cup history is that the home team has consistently outperformed the opposition. The home team has won the competition six times. Furthermore, many teams that would not normally compete with the best teams have advanced far in the tournament when playing on home soil. Sweden, for example, reached the final in 1958 and South Korea reached the semi-finals in 2006.
Several awards are given to players in connection with the World Cup. The Golden Ball, which is given to the best player in a FIFA World Cup, is the most well-known. FIFA selects candidates, who are then voted on by media representatives. Aside from the Golden Ball, there are also the Silver and Bronze Balls, as well as the Golden Boot (top goalscorer) and the Golden Glove (best goalkeeper).
The tournament’s prize pool has grown dramatically over the years. The total prize pool for the FIFA World Cup 2018 was $791 million ($35 million for the winners), compared to $20 million for the FIFA World Cup 1982.