Useful Notes: The World Cup
The World Cup is a very important way to measure the good players, and the great ones. It is a test of a great player.Full name being the FIFA World Cup (Fédération Internationale de Football Association — the governing body of The Beautiful Game), The World Cup is an international competition between national football teams hosted every four years. It's the Big Occasion of both football and all sports in the World — much more popular than the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl merged together. It is also much more prestigious than almost any other sporting event — about the only other event that comes close is the Olympic Games, and even then many nations would gladly swap a fistful of Olympic Golds for a World Cup winnote . Apart from anything else, many Olympic Gold medals are awarded every four years, but there's only one World Cup winner every four. For a team to win the World Cup means the players will be heroes for life in their native country (especially in those nations such as England and France where success is rare; in those nations such as Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago where success hasn't even come yet, the fact that they qualified to participate is enough to have a freaking National Holiday), and for the country itself can have far-reaching socio-economic effects. West Germany's surprise win against the much-vaunted Hungarians in 1954 is credited with cementing that country into a unified, confident nation-state instead of a broken, battered, occupied country, while the loss on the opposite side lead to a breakup of a sports dynasty that was cemented by the 1956 Revolution. France's win in 1998 on home soil (against Brazil, no less) with a majority of black and Arab-descended players is said to mark a turning point in positive race relations in France. The first contest was in 1930 in Uruguay, and was won by the hosts, with only 13 entrants (it was supposed to be 16, but the long trip to South America by ship meant many of the countries across the ocean — mainly the European ones — declined the invitation). World War II meant there were no contests in 1942 and 1946. The latest contest was held in Brazil in 2014, for which 203 countries went for 32 places, and ultimately won by Germany. The format has altered somewhat over the years, but there is a group stage in the beginning before it turns into a straight knock-out contest. Qualifying is accomplished differently through the various qualification groups — only the hosts now get an automatic place. In 2010:
- The 10 teams of South America (CONMEBOL) played a straight league with 4 qualifiers (and one team to a playoff with a North American team)
- North America (CONCACAF) played several rounds before the six best teams played a league with 3 qualifiers (and one team to a playoff with a South American team)
- Africa (CAF) had 2 rounds of 4-team groups, the winners of which crowned 5 qualifiers (although Egypt and Algeria had to playoff after finishing with identical records, leading to a fair bit of rioting and even more Misplaced Nationalism than usual).
- Asia (AFC) had a knock-out stage followed by a 4-team group phase, followed by a 2 five-team groups. The top 2 from each went through and the third placed teams played off to qualify for a play off with...
- Oceania's (OFC) champion was decided after the gold, silver and bronze medalists from the South Pacific games predictably lost in a four-team group with New Zealand, since Australia has decided to 'relocate' to Asia.
- Europe (UEFA) had 8 groups of 6 and one of 5; the nine champions qualified, the 8 best runners-up played-off at (semi-)random for 4 places.
- Uruguay (1930, 1950) — The shirts of World Cup winning countries have one star on them for each World Cup victory; Uruguay, however, has four stars, the extra two being for their gold medal wins in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics (which pre-date the World Cup).
- Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) — Benito Mussolini may have had something to do with the first two, hopefully his regime just hijacked the glory!
- Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014 — first three as West Germany)
- They have qualified for all the World Cups they've entered, and East Germany qualified for 1974, beating eventual champions West Germany in the group stage. Their first win as united Germany in 2014 made them the first European team to win in the Americas.
- Also, thanks to their women's team winning the Women's World Cup in 2003 and 2007, Germany is the only nation to have won both the men's and women's tournaments.
- Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) — The only team present in all tournaments, the biggest winner, and the only one to win in three continents (Europe, America and Asia).
- England (1966) — British teams didn't turn up until 1950, having been out of FIFA between 1920 and 1946, since they didn't want to play people they'd fought against (and felt there was too much foreign influence in football!).note The English national team is a curious cultural phenomenon. It frequently blitzes the qualifiers, contains some truly spectacularly talented players, particularly the (in)famous Golden Generation and proves that, outside of tournaments, they are capable of contending with the likes of Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and the Netherlands, with a young and fearsomely talented team thrashing Germany 5-1 in Munich in 2001. Tournaments, however, are a different story. Until 2014, the whole country invariably expected great things from its team, and always found an unfortunate scapegoat to blame for the inevitable failure, heroic or otherwise. In recent years the blame has normally fallen on the manager of the team, although in the past individual players have been blamed: David Beckham in '98 for getting sent off, Chris Waddle in '90 for missing a critical penalty, and in a rare case of an opposing player being blamed, Diego Maradona in '86 for blatantly cheating. Yes, they're still bitter about it 29 years on. In 2010, the blame was split between the referee (who failed to see a valid goal everyone else could), the back four, Fabio Capello (whose managing of the side completely fell apart after said goal), and Emile Heskey (who had squandered multiple easy chances in the group stage which contributed to England losing the group). 2014 (when England, reaching an all new low, failed to even get out of the group and somehow managed to injure their own physio while celebrating a goal) has been blamed variously on superstar Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, over-the-hill captain Steven Gerrard, and the traditional managerial scapegoat in Roy Hodgson, though by now, even the tabloids have realised that the best they can hope for is that the inevitable failure isn't too humiliating.
- Argentina (1978, 1986)
- Controversially won in 1978 with a military Junta in tow.
- The '86 win was no less controversial with the infamous "Hand of God" goal by Diego Maradona against England in the quarterfinals, although Argentinians consider the "Hand of God" as something glorious not shameful. Since they had been comprehensively beaten in the Falklands War against Britain four years before (something Maradona himself cited), upon which a lot of national pride had been staked, this is perhaps not entirely surprising. Speaking of Maradona, his second goal in that match is considered the best of all time, even by the English, because it was just that good.
- France (1998) — Their win in 1998 helped reinforce an anti-racist attitude in much of France, as the winning side had many players of non-traditional origins, such as Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira and Lilian Thuram (all of black African origin); Zinedine Zidane (son of Algerian immigrants); Christian Karembeu (New Caledonian—i.e., Pacific islander); and Youri Djorkaeff (Armenian and Polish, also with more distant Central Asian ancestry).
- Spain (2010) — Hot off the heels on their success in Euro 2008. First team to win the tournament after losing their opening game to Switzerland, and the first European team to win outside of Europe. Won after a rather scrappy game with the Netherlands with fourteen yellow cards and one red. Both teams were trying to end their duck of being the two most skilled teams in the world to never lift the trophy. Spain having won Euro 2012 — the only team ever to have taken two Euros and a World Cup in a row — made it the most formidable defending champion ever. First European to win a tournament outside the Old World, given their title was in South Africa.
Note: The "Final Four" teams are categorized from champion to fourth-place. If a city has two or more stadiums, they will be identified. Also, if a host city is a suburb of a larger/better-known city, that is also identified.
- 1930 — Uruguay
Cities: Montevideo (Estadio Centenario [final] / Estadio Gran Parque Central / Estadio Pocitos)
Final Four: Uruguay / Argentina / USA / Yugoslavia
Top Scorer: Guillermo Stábile (Argentina) - 8 goalsThe first tournament went to that little South American nation that had just won two Olympic golds in a row in football (also to celebrate the centennial of their independence from the Brazilian Empire). However, the difficulties of crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat (airplanes were still strictly warfare tech), coupled with a dose of It Will Never Catch On, caused many European teams to decline taking part in the tournament, so only four of them (Yugoslavia, Romania, Belgium and Jules Rimet's France) crossed the ocean. This ensured near-total South American domination of the inaugural tournament, with the home side beating Argentina at the final.
- 1934 — Italy
Cities: Bologna / Florence / Genoa / Milan / Naples / Rome [final] / Trieste / Turin
Final Four: Italy / Czechoslovakia / Germany / Austria
Top Scorer: Oldřich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia) - 5 goalsUsed as a tool for Benito Mussolini to promote his fascist regime, he pretty much demanded his home team's victory, which came after a dramatic game with Czechoslovakia. More people became interested in taking part of the tournament but, since the format only allowed for 16 teams to play (it was originally an invitational tournament), the first World Cup Qualifiers were played. Interestingly, this was the only time the hosts had to play in the qualifiers,note as well as the only time the reigning champion did not return to defend the title (Uruguay refused to play in response to the European boycott four years prior).
- 1938 — France
Cities: Antibes / Bordeaux / Le Havre / Lille / Lyon / Marseille / Paris (Parc des Princes / Stade Olympique de Colombes [final]) / Reims / Strasbourg / Toulouse
Final Four: Italy / Hungary / Brazil / Sweden
Top Scorer: Leônidas (Brazil) - 7 goalsWon again by Italy who, even with a mostly renewed team, plowed their way through the tournament and defeated Hungary at the final. Even though they wouldn't win the tournament until 20 years later, Brazil's third place finish (mostly thanks to them now being professionals) made quite an impression with European spectators. 16 qualified, but only 15 played — the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany three months prior meant the Austrian players joined the German squad, and their original opponents Sweden got a free pass to the quarter-finals.
- 1950 — Brazil
Cities: Belo Horizonte / Curitiba / Porto Alegre / Recife / Rio de Janeiro [final] / São Paulo
Final Four: Uruguay / Brazil / Sweden / Spain
Top Scorer: Ademir (Brazil) - 8 goalsThe first tournament since Uruguay 1930 to start with a group stage, something all subsequent tournaments have had. 16 teams qualified, but three of them (Turkey, Scotland, and India) refused to show up, so they had to make do with 13. The home team had been achieving impressive results throughout the tournament, until that fateful July 16, when a discredited Uruguay turned the match around in the final minutes, beat Brazil on points (there was no true final; instead, the champion was determined in a final group round between these two, Sweden and Spain), and cause an entire nation to mope with grief... For a while at least.
- 1954 — Switzerland
Cities: Basel / Bern [final] / Geneva / Lausanne / Lugano / Zurich
Final Four: West Germany / Hungary / Austria / Uruguay
Top Scorer: Sándor Kocsis (Hungary) - 11 goalsHungary came around on a roll. As reigning Olympic champions from Helsinki 1952, they had trampled England twice (6-3 in the away game and 7-1 home), and lost only one of the 30 matches they had played up until then. More resounding victories came: 8-3 vs West Germany, 9-0 vs South Korea, 4-2 vs Brazil, 4-2 vs Uruguay... But then the West Germans stood in their way again. And snatched the trophy from right under their noses, coming back from a 2-0 deficit. And that was how an entire nation rose from the ashes of war (no, really). On a side note, this tournament boasted the highest goal average of all: 5.38 (140 goals scored in 26 matches), which goes to show how much the sport has changed since.
- 1958 — Sweden
Cities: Borås / Eskilstuna / Gothenburg / Halmstad / Helsingborg / Malmö / Norrköping / Örebro / Sandviken / Solna (Stockholm) [final] / Uddevalla / Västerås
Final Four: Brazil / Sweden / France / West Germany
Top Scorer: Just Fontaine (France) - 13 goals
Best Young Player: Pelé (Brazil)The tournament that introduced Pelé to the world and, along with him, showed what the magical Brazilians could do when they had a ball at their feet, as the hosts could attest in more ways than one. Brazil defeated Sweden in the final, making both countries the only hosts to lose in the final (even if 1950 was kind of different). Just Fontaine's astonishing 13-goal tally remains a FIFA record for most goals in a single tournament.
- 1962 — Chile
Cities: Arica [kickoff] / Rancagua / Santiago [final] / Viña del Mar (Valparaiso)
Final Four: Brazil / Czechoslovakia / Chile / Yugoslavia
Top Scorers: Flórián Albert (Hungary), Garrincha (Brazil), Valentin Ivanov (USSR), Dražan Jerković (Yugoslavia), Leonel Sánchez (Chile) and Vavá (Brazil) - 4 goals each
Best Young Player: Flórián Albert (Hungary)Pelé sat out most of the tournament after getting injured in the second match. How could Brazil hope to defend their title without their top star? The answer was easy: with their other top star, Garrincha, who stunned the world with his disconcerting dribbles and led the "canarinho" team to their second triumph in a row.
- 1966 — England
Cities: Birmingham / Liverpool / London (Wembley Stadium [kickoff / final] / White City Stadium) / Manchester / Middlesbrough / Sheffield / Sunderland
Final Four: England / West Germany / Portugal / USSR
Top Scorer: Eusébio (Portugal) - 9 goals
Best Young Player: Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)Heralded as "football coming back home", the tournament was won by the home team, though not without some controversy as the referee allowed an extra time goal from a Geoff Hurst shot that hit the crossbar, bounced on the line and fell back out. Two surprises marked this tournament: Brazil's elimination in the group stage (thanks to some heavily disorganized management, and Pelé getting pretty much broken by Bulgarian and Portuguese markers) and newcomers North Korea flushing out the Italians in the group stage. This was also the first tournament where Portugal participated, and they left quite a mark, finishing third.
- 1970 — Mexico
Cities: Guadalajara / León / Mexico City [final] / Puebla / Toluca
Final Four: Brazil / Italy / West Germany / Uruguay
Top Scorer: Gerd Müller (West Germany) - 10 goals
Best Young Player: Teófilo Cubillas (Peru)A spectacular tournament, not only for the incontestable victory of a star-studded Brazilian team with renewed strength (and Pelé at the top of his game: even when he failed to score, he was masterful), but also for matches with the potential to keep watchers on the edge of their seat (like the dramatic semifinal between Italy and West Germany, dubbed by many as the "Game of the Century"). Plus, it can be said that modern football started here, where many now-common conventions were introduced (e.g. substitutions, yellow/red cards, more technologically sophisticated ball and so on). Their triumph here allowed Brazil to take the Jules Rimet trophy, as the first team to win three tournaments.
- 1974 — West Germany
Cities: Dortmund / Düsseldorf / Frankfurt / Gelsenkirchen / Hamburg / Hanover / Munich (final) / Stuttgart / West Berlin
Final Four: West Germany / Netherlands / Poland / Brazil
Top Scorer: Grzegorz Lato (Poland) - 7 goals
Best Player: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
Best Young Player: Władysław Żmuda (Poland)The first season which featured the current version of the championship trophy. 20 years before, Hungary dazzled the world with their nigh-unstoppable team. Now it was the Netherlands' turn to stun football fans, by presenting a completely unforeseen way to play football: Total Football. No player was attached to their roles in the field; instead they had full creativity to do as they wished, so long as they took the ball to the goal. Like Hungary 20 years before, the "Clockwork Orange" made headlines and got all the way to the final. Unfortunately, like 20 years before, West Germany stood in their way, turned the tables after starting off with a deficit and snatched the trophy from them.
- 1978 — Argentina
Cities: Buenos Aires (Estadio Monumental [final] / Estadio José Amalfitani) / Córdoba / Mar del Plata / Mendoza / Rosario
Final Four: Argentina / Netherlands / Brazil / Italy
Top Scorer: Mario Kempes (Argentina) - 6 goals
Best Player: Mario Kempes (Argentina)
Best Young Player: Antonio Cabrini (Italy)The military seized power in Argentina in 1976. A World Cup win on home ground had the potential to make them look good. And win on home soil Argentina did, albeit very controversially — it is said that their 6-0 win over Peru that cost Brazil their spot in the final was arranged by the Videla regime, who promised financial help to Peru if they threw the fight (Argentina needed a very difficult win by four goals to proceed), and the Peruvian goalkeeper being Argentinian-born made matters even worse. In fact, even their own traveling routes were arranged to make for easier matches: Argentina played in Buenos Aires for the first round, then in nearby Rosario for the second round, and then back to Buenos Aires for the finalnote .
- 1982 — Spain
Cities: A Coruña / Alicante / Barcelona (Camp Nou / Estadi di Sarrià) / Bilbao / Elche / Gijón / Madrid (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu [final] / Estadio Vicente Calderón) / Málaga / Oviedo / Seville (Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán / Estadio Benito Villamarín) / Valencia / Valladolid / Vigo / Zaragoza
Final Four: Italy / West Germany / Poland / France
Top Scorer: Paolo Rossi (Italy) - 6 goals
Best Player: Paolo Rossi (Italy)
Best Young Player: Manuel Amoros (France)It looked like 1970 all over again: Brazil fielding an all-star cast and winning their matches without breaking a sweat. But then there was Italy, who shambled their way to Round 2, but apparently woke up in time to upset the Brazilian team and rush to the trophy. This tournament saw the first match decided on penalty shoot-outs: the thrilling semi-final between France and West Germany (yep, the one where Harald Schumacher nearly wiped out Patrick Battiston without even getting a card). Also, for this tournament, the number of entrants was expanded from 16 to 24, so that countries from outside Europe and South America would be more certain to represent their continents.
- 1986 — Mexico
Cities: Guadalajara / Irapuato / León / Mexico City (Estadio Azteca [final] / Estadio Olímpico Universitario) / Monterrey / Nezahualcoyotl (Mexico City) / Puebla / Querétaro / San Nicolás de los Garza (Monterrey) / Toluca / Zapopan
Final Four: Argentina / West Germany / France / Belgium
Top Scorer: Gary Lineker (England) - 6 goals
Best Player: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Best Young Player: Enzo Scifo (Belgium)This tournament was originally awarded to Colombia, who ultimately stepped out due to lack of funds; Mexico thus became the first nation to host the World Cup twice. One man rose above the rest: Diego Maradona, who pushed his team of Argentina to their second victory, while performing his swan song with masterpieces such as his second goal against England, considered the greatest goal ever scored in the history of the sport (never mind him weaseling his way to the first goal just beforehand).
- 1990 — Italy
Cities: Bari / Bologna / Cagliari / Florence / Genoa / Milan / Naples / Palermo / Rome [final] / Turin / Udine / Verona
Final Four: West Germany / Argentina / Italy / England
Top Scorer: Salvatore Schillaci (Italy) - 6 goals
Best player: Salvatore Schillaci (Italy)
Best young player: Robert Prosinečki (Yugoslavia)Widely considered the worst edition, this is where football hit a low from which it never fully recovered: emphasis was put in stopping the opposition from scoring instead of the logical opposite, and so there was too little scoring and too much snoring. Due to this, this tournament sports the lowest goal average of all, just 2.21 (115 goals in 52 matches; now go back to 1954 and compare the numbers). In the end, West Germany (in their last tournament before reunification) ousted Argentina from the World Champions' seat in a reprise of the 1986 final — only much, much duller (the only goal was a penalty kick!). One of the few interesting elements of the tournament was Cameroon demonstrating that African teams were no longer there just to make up the numbers. They shocked the world by defeating Argentina in the first game of the tournament despite having two players sent off, and reached the quarter finals.
- 1994 — USA
Cities: Chicago / Dallas / East Rutherford, New Jersey (New York City) / Foxborough (Boston) / Orlando / Pasadena (Los Angeles) [final] / Pontiac (Detroit) / Stanford (San Francisco) / Washington, DC
Final Four: Brazil / Italy / Sweden / Bulgaria
Top Scorers: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) and Oleg Salenko (Russia) - 6 goals each
Best Player: Romário (Brazil)
Best Young Player: Marc Overmars (Netherlands)
Best goalkeeper: Michel Preud'homme (Belgium)Even though the Americans' idea of football is much different, the World Cup was brought here to boost interest in the sport among a populace who prefers a derivative of rugby. America still prefers its native football to soccer (as they call this sport), but defying all expectations, USA 1994 continues to hold world records for highest public average attendance (69,000 per match, surpassing 53,000 in 1950, with a 200,000-seater stadium helping) and highest total attendance (3.6 million, even with a 24-team format) — providing the catalyst for Major League Soccer, which was created as part of a deal with FIFA to bring the World Cup to the USA in the first place. The tournament was won by Brazil, who broke their 24-year drought by beating Italy in the first final decided on penalty shootouts. Furthermore, it sparked an improvement for Team USA, qualifying for every World Cup ever since and even reaching the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
- 1998 — France
Cities: Bordeaux / Lens / Lyon / Marseille / Montpellier / Nantes / Paris / Saint-Denis (Paris) [final] / Saint-Étienne / Toulouse
Final Four: France / Brazil / Croatia / Netherlands
Top scorer: Davor Šuker (Croatia) - 6 goals
Best player: Ronaldo (Brazil)
Best young player: Michael Owen (England)
Best goalkeeper: Fabien Barthez (France)A whole new generation of football was introduced here, with 32 contenders, thus giving a chance to almost every corner of the world to show what they were capable of. With a national side recovered from sitting out of two straight tournaments, the French hosts went on to win the tournament beating Brazil in the final, thus presenting another genius of the art to the world: Zinedine Zidane. Croatia were the surprise package, finishing 3rd in their first-ever World Cup.
- 2002 — Japan and South Korea
Cities (Japan): Fukuroi (Shizuoka) / Kashima (Ibaraki) / Kobe / Niigata / Osaka / Ōita / Rifu (Miyagi) / Saitama / Sapporo / Yokohama (Tokyo) [final]
Cities (South Korea): Busan / Daegu / Daejeon / Gwangju / Incheon / Jeonju / Seogwipo (Jeju) / Seoul / Suwon / Ulsan
Final Four: Brazil / Germany / Turkey / South Korea
Top scorer: Ronaldo (Brazil) - 8 goals
Best player: Oliver Kahn (Germany)
Best young player: Landon Donovan (USA)
Best goalkeeper: Oliver Kahn (Germany)The first tournament with joint hosts, and the first one contested in Asia. It was a rather unpredictable tournament, with many favorites falling along the way (Argentina, Portugal and France in the group stage, then Italy in the Round of 16), and Asian and African teams suddenly on the ascendant (Senegal became the second African team to reach the quarterfinals, and co-hosts South Korea clinched a decent fourth-place finish). Brazil asserted their dominance by obtaining a record fifth World Cup win, overcoming the German team led by an Oliver Kahn in the prime of his career.note Another notable fact is that this was the USA's best performance since 1930, reaching the quarterfinals, where they lost to Germany.
- 2006 — Germany
Cities: Berlin [final] / Dortmund / Cologne / Frankfurt / Gelsenkirchen / Hamburg / Hanover / Leipzig / Kaiserslautern / Munich / Nuremberg / Stuttgart
Final Four: Italy / France / Germany / Portugal
Top scorer: Miroslav Klose (Germany) - 5 goals
Best player: Zinedine Zidane (France)
Best young player: Lukas Podolski (Germany)
Best goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)Not as exciting as Korea/Japan 2002 (based on the contestants' track records up until then, one could say it was even predictable), but not without its moments. Italy achieved their fourth win by defeating France on penalties, just after Zidane planted his head on Marco Materazzi's chest. France reaching the finals was a surprise in itself, as Raymond Domenech was probably the most mocked and despised managed in the team's history (though the team's play didn't get that much better after he left), yet they took down Spain, Brazil and Portugal before the final. The tournament was also noted as introducing the world to "modern" Germany (which earned a respectable third-place finish), as it was the first major international television event to show the country after going through reunification in the 1990s.
- 2010 — South Africa
Cities: Bloemfontein / Cape Town / Durban / Johannesburg [final] / Nelspruit / Polokwane / Port Elizabeth / Pretoria / Rustenburg
Final Four: Spain / Netherlands / Germany / Uruguay
Top scorers: Diego Forlán (Uruguay), Thomas Müller (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands) and David Villa (Spain) - 5 goals each
Best player: Diego Forlán (Uruguay)
Best young player: Thomas Müller (Germany)
Best goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Spain)The first World Cup held on African soil. Even though it was heralded by lively crowds (to say nothing of the ever-present, persistent droning of the vuvuzelas), many matches weren't quite as beautiful (some of them were outright sleep-inducing, like Brazil 0-0 Portugal in the group stage). Spain came out on top for the first time, after a rough, violent game against the Netherlands.
- 2014 — Brazil
Cities: Belo Horizonte / Brasília / Cuiabá / Curitiba / Fortaleza / Manaus / Natal / Rio de Janeiro [final] / Porto Alegre / Recife / Salvador / São Paulo
Final Four: Germany / Argentina / Netherlands / Brazil
Top scorer: James Rodríguez (Colombia) - 6 goals
Best player: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Best young player: Paul Pogba (France)
Best goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Germany)Linked in many people's minds to the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, where the final game was held (though Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo will also host some out-of-town games). Despite concerns about preparedness and security, Brazil 2014 proved to be quite a success, featuring electrifying matches and a rather high scoreline, another biting incident involving Uruguayan striker Luiz Suarez (this time against Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in group play), surprise contenders like France — resurgent after a horrid 2010 performance (which saw much mediocrity, scandal and infighting) — and out-of-nowhere Costa Rica clawing their way to the quarterfinals, perennial favorites like England, Italy and defending champions Spain falling by the wayside, and increased interest in the sport from the USA after its national team's surprisingly good showing (including a record-breaking 16 saves by Everton FC goalkeeper Tim Howard in a defiant 1-2 loss to Belgium at the Round of 16)note , as well as a shocking 7-1 trouncing of hosts Brazil by Germany in the semifinal (which saw the latter's Polish-born striker Miroslav Klose overtake Ronaldo as the tournament's all-time leading scorer with 16 goals). Germany then proceeded to beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time in the final, winning their fourth trophy and becoming the first European team to win in the Americas.
- 2018 — Russia
Cities: Kaliningrad / Kazan / Moscow / Nizhny Novgorod / Rostov-on-Don / Saint Petersburg / Samara / Saransk / Sochi / Volgograd / YekaterinburgWas chosen, along with the next host, just after the 2014 tournament was announced to be held in Brazil. Also linked to the Olympics (but the Winter version held in Sochi in 2014 — Fisht Stadium, where the ceremonies were held, is even one of the venues), including the spending, with nine new stadia and a rebuilt one.
- 2022 — Qatar
Cities: Al Khor / Al Rayyan / Al Wakrah / Doha / Lusail / Madinat ash Shamal / Umm SalalWill be the first tournament in the Middle East. Curiously, Qatar has never participated in the tournament before, and if they fail to qualify for 2018, they will be the first country in 88 years (since Italy '34) to host the tournament without having taken part in it before. Infamously controversial, how legitimately Qatar was chosen over the USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia remains dubious, and further concerns were raised over Qatar's use of what it claims is Sharia (i.e. Muslim law, which in most implementations for example makes homosexuality illegal, and also alcohol, which clashes with FIFA's sponsorship with Budweiser), climate (with temperatures routinely over 50°C/122°F during summer), and the alleged use of slave labor in its migrant-heavy labor force. Following a report by England's Sunday Times that approximately $5 million worth of bribes were given to the voting committee by Qatari ex-FIFA Vice Grand President Mohammad bin Hammam, FIFA has begun an inquiry into the incident. FIFA has alerted the USA to be prepared in case Qatar's hosting is stripped. The next development in Qatar's World Cup saga was FIFA's announcement that the tournament would be moved to November and December, when average high temperatures are in a much more manageable range of 24–29°C/75–85°F. As of May 2015, the American federal government has indicted various FIFA officials on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering, and Switzerland has announced its own criminal investigation specifically into the accusations of bribery regarding the 2018 and 2022 host selections.
- 1991 — China
Cities: Foshan / Guangzhou (final) / Jiangmen / Zhongshan
Final Four: USA / Norway / Sweden / Germany
Top scorer: Michelle Akers (USA) - 10 goals
Best player: Carin Jennings(-Gabarra) (USA)The inaugural women's tournament, featuring twelve teams on three groups, won by USA against Norway, 2-1.
- 1995 — Sweden
Cities: Gävle / Helsingborg / Karlstad / Solna (Stockholm) (final) / Västerås
Final Four: Norway / Germany / USA / China
Top scorer: Ann-Kristin Aarønes (Norway) - 6 goals
Best player: Hege Riise (Norway)The first FIFA Women's World Cup hosted in Europe.
- 1999 — USA
Cities: Chicago / East Rutherford, New Jersey (New York City) / Foxborough (Boston) / Palo Alto (San Francisco) / Pasadena (Los Angeles) (final) / Portland / San Jose / Landover, Maryland (Washington, DC)
Final Four: USA / China / Brazil / Norway
Top scorer: Sun Wen (China) and Sissi (Brazil) - 7 goals
Best player: Sun Wen (China)Like USA 1994 five years earlier, USA 1999 set a record — its final, won by USA against China via a 5-4 penalty shootout (with 0-0 on regulation time), is the most attended game in the history of women's sports (not just football) with over 90,000 live spectators. This edition also saw the final tournament expand to 16 teams, at which it remained through 2011.
- 2003 — USA
Cities: Carson (Los Angeles) (final) / Columbus / Foxborough (Boston) / Philadelphia / Portland / Washington, DC
Final Four: Germany / Sweden / USA / Canada
Top scorer: Birgit Prinz (Germany) - 7 goals
Best player: Birgit Prinz (Germany)
Best goalkeeper: Silke Rottenberg (Germany)The 2003 Women's World Cup was originally to be hosted by China, but due to the SARS outbreak the tournament had to turn to the previous host. Won by Germany against Sweden, 2-1, in a game that reached sudden-death.
- 2007 — China
Cities: Chengdu / Hangzhou / Shanghai (final) / Tianjin / Wuhan
Final Four: Germany / Brazil / USA / Norway
Top scorer: Marta (Brazil) - 7 goals
Best player: Marta (Brazil)
Best goalkeeper: Nadine Angerer (Germany)As compensation for having the 2003 tournament withdrawn from them due to the SARS outbreak, China was automatically given the 2007 edition, which began with a wrecking of Germany against Argentina, 11-0 (the highest scoring match in the tournament's history) and ending with the same team mopping Brazil, 2-0, to become the first back-to-back champion in the tournament, as well as the first champion in either the men's or women's version not to surrender a goal.
- 2011 — Germany
Cities: Augsburg / Berlin / Dresden / Frankfurt (final) / Leverkusen / Mönchengladbach / Sinsheim / Wolfsburg
Final Four: Japan / USA / Sweden / France
Top scorer: Homare Sawa (Japan) - 5 goals
Best player: Homare Sawa (Japan)
Best goalkeeper: Hope Solo (USA)In perhaps the most surprising run in Women's World Cup history, Japan took down the hosts and co-favorites Germany in the quarterfinals, beat perennial power Sweden in the semis, and then stunned the other favorite, the USA, with a 3-1 penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in regulation time — an emphatic Throw the Dog a Bone moment for a country still reeling over a massive earthquake and tsunami a few months earlier.
- 2015 — Canada
Cities: Edmonton / Moncton / Montreal / Ottawa / Vancouver (final) / Winnipeg
Final Four: USA / Japan / England / Germany
Top scorer: Célia Šašić (Germany) [winner of Golden Boot on second tiebreaker of fewer minutes played] and Carli Lloyd (USA) – 6 goals
Best player: Carli Lloyd (USA)
Best goalkeeper: Hope Solo (USA)The most recent edition, which saw further expansion of the tournament into a 24-team format. Also the first time that any World Cup match for either sex was played on an artificial surface (in fact, all matches were on such surfaces). It will definitely live under the shadow of poor officiating and the turf fields, both of which had a tremendous impact on certain results. The tournament was fraught with surprises, such as a USA team that seemed flat during the group stage only to explode against China during the quarterfinalsnote and then go on to blank Germany, Australia defeating tournament contenders Brazil in the first round of the knockout stages, and England reaching its first women's semifinal at the expense of hosts Canada, before losing to Japan in the semifinals by an own goal in stoppage time, and then going on to also blank Germany to take third-place. In the final, the USWNTnote avenged its 2011 disappointment against Japan and finally got out of the shadow of its iconic 1999 predecessor, riding four goals in the first 16 minutes—including a Carli Lloyd hat trick with one of her goals from midfield!—to a 5–2 thrashing of the Nadeshiko.
- 2019 — France
Cities: Auxerre / Grenoble / Le Havre / Lyon / Montpellier / Nancy / Nantes / Nice / Paris / Reims / Rennes / ValenciennesFrance will host the last edition of the decade.