The FIFA World Cup.
0.The FIFA World Cup is a highly-anticipated international sporting event that happens every four years. International football players, or soccer as it is called in North America, spend their whole careers training for the opportunity to represent their country. Even citizens who are not the biggest sports fans proudly wear their national colours to cheer on their team. It is quite difficult not to be swept up in the excitement.
1.The inaugural competition was held in Uruguay in 1930. However, it was far smaller than present day. Firstly, only thirteen teams participated, with the majority of those being from South America. Moreover, all matches were held in the capital, Montevideo, across the city's three stadiums. While two of these existed prior to the event, they could only accommodate 10,000 to 20,000 people. Due to this, a third, Estadio Centenario, was built for an audience of 4.5 times the capacity of its predecessors. The tournament culminated in a heated final between the host country and Argentina in front of 68,000 live supporters. On home soil, Uruguay become the first World Cup champion.
2.The World Cup looks quite different today. Most remarkably, it has expanded to include a thirty-two-team roster, representing all continents. Given this vast increase in participants, it is unrealistic for all matches to be held in a singular city. The past two tournaments, in Brazil and Russia respectively, saw the inclusion of twelve different stadiums, often thousands of miles apart from one another. What's more is the size of these venues. Official regulations do not permit the grounds to hold less than 45,000 fans. Unlike its modest origin, the event is widely watched and looked forward to by billions of people worldwide. During the most recent games in Russia 2018, it is estimated that the final match between France and Croatia drew in over a billion viewers.
3.The tourney has seen participants from every corner of the globe. It has been hosted in 17 different countries on four different continents. The organization embraced its first appearance in Africa in South Africa in 2010, while Qatar is set to become the first Middle-Eastern country to host the tournament in 2022. Under some circumstances, joint countries may co-host as Japan and South Korea did in 2002, and United States, Canada and Mexico will in 2026. There have also been some notable guests along the way. For instance, the world's smallest nation to join in on the fun was Iceland, a nation with only 300,000 inhabitants.
4.What would sports be without superlatives? Brazil is the current title holder for most World Cups, with a grand total of 5. This South American nation is also the only country to have participated in every single tournament since its inception. If coming in second place had an awards category, Germany would take the lead with eight appearances in the finals, only having won 50% of those matches. Some other important achievements include performances by great athletes including Brazil's Pele, who won the most World Cup trophies by a single player, and Argentina's Maradona, who had the most appearances as a captain.
5.Hosting the event is meant to have several financial benefits, including a boost of tourism and the creation of jobs in the industrial and service sectors. However, economic waste can follow soon after. Let's consider the 2014 games as an example, where Brazil spent nearly $15 billion on developing infrastructure. Shortly after the event, it was reported that several of the multi-million-dollar stadiums were shut down due to poor construction or have been repurposed as parking lots or unsuccessful party locations. Likewise, poor planning of stadium placement has also caused venues in the Amazon region to sit vacant without the possibility of local teams or musical artists to use them.
6.Although Qatar has learned from Brazil's infrastructure problem, and vows to donate parts of their unused stadiums to developing countries after the event, the Middle Eastern nation has experienced its own share of criticism. Boiling temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius have been the reason for the shift of the traditionally summer-based tournament to a winter one for the first time in history. From a tourism perspective, guests will have to get used to the absence of readily-available alcoholic beverages and fewer attractions than in previous host nations. Furthermore, several human rights complaints such as the treatment of migrant workers, the illegal status of homosexuality and its political disconnection to other Middle Eastern nations are also areas of concern.
7.The issues in Qatar only scratch the surface of what is to come. In 2026, the tournament format will increase from 32 to 48 teams. This modification will help to diversify the event, granting countries who may not have otherwise qualified the chance to participate. Additionally, as the world continues to grow and change, FIFA should continue to focus more efforts to make the games more sustainable and ethical.