It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the most anticipated time of the year. The trophy, the most coveted gold for all footballers, awaits its new home. All of the hard-work and dedication leads to this very moment. The entire world is watching, waiting for that first whistle to pierce through the still air. Billions of people hold their breath, quickly muttering a prayer before the tournament officially kicks off. The whole stadium seems to hold its breath. It is time for the World Cup.
The World Cup is arguably the highest level of competition in all of football (soccer). It is a competition that is held every four years, at different locations all around the world. Over 3 billion people watched the most recent World Cup of 2022, which took place in Qatar, and over a billion individuals watched the final between Argentina and France, in which Argentina became the new reigning champions. However, this tournament has been a long-standing tradition dating from the year of 1930, where the first World Cup was held in Uruguay. It has now morphed into a global phenomenon, taking over the entire world, whenever it is held, uniting a diverse variety of cultures, individuals, and entities.
Although it may be hard to believe, there was once a time when the World Cup simply did not exist, approximately 100 or more years ago. There was no global tournament or competition with football (soccer) during this time period. Thus, the idea of creating an international competition like such came from a man named Jules Rimet, the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) president at the time, who sought to push the agenda for global tournaments. As previously mentioned, the winner of this 1930 World Cup was Uruguay, beating 12 other teams, and went on to win only once more, during the 1950 competition. After the first ever World Cup, the competition was traditionally held every 4 years, until the years of 1942 and 1946, in which the tradition was not upheld because of the global calamity that had taken over the world at that time: World War II. Since 1930, Brazil has won the most World Cups, with an astonishing, stunning count of 5 wins. Not close behind, however, are other countries, such as Germany and Italy with 4. Surprisingly, this year, Italy were not able to even qualify for the World Cup, despite winning the 2020 Euros, a prestigious competition selective towards countries in Europe, only a year prior to this. Additionally, Germany lost to several teams that they would’ve been favored to flatline, ultimately leading to their elimination from the 2022 World Cup, despite winning the 2014 World Cup, not even a decade prior. Brazil, however, were able to make it to the quarterfinals, losing via penalties to Croatia, after having a convincingly decisive win over South Korea, who had just come off of a huge win against a European powerhouse: Portugal.
2022 World Cup Qatar
Thus, for the most recent World Cup, despite France being the heavy favorites, not necessarily in popularity, but in admittance. Consisting of superstar players such as Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezzman, and Hugo Lloris, France were able to dominate other competition just as they had in the 2018 World Cup, to make it all the way to the finals this year. Despite this, they lost to Argentina, in one of the most exhilarating finals not just World Cup history, but simply all sports competition history. There were a flurry of early goals that bumped Argentina to a comfortable lead, which was quickly outdone by France, in a late succession of two goals, causing the game to go into overtime. Eventually, as Lionel Messi of Argentina scored the third goal for Argentina, it was believed to be finished, but a quick penalty by Mbappe set it even. After the long, hard-fought game, Argentina were able to be victorious, winning on penalties, and thus becoming World Cup champions for the first time since 1986.