One of the most significant and well-supported events in football, considered by many to be the most important international competition in football, the FIFA World Cup sees 32 teams competing with one another to win the iconic and much-coveted trophy. The tournament is overseen by FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, and has been held once every four years beginning in the year 1930. Since the tournament started, it has only been cancelled on two occasions, in 1942 and 1946, due to the Second World War. The current trophy holder is France, who managed to win the tournament in 2018 when it was held in Russia.
The first ever genuinely international football match was played in Glasgow in 1872, when the national teams of England and Scotland played against one another, with the game ending in a 0 – 0 draw. This match sparked interest in international tournaments, with the first British Home Championship taking place in 1884. The tournament only ran once and featured four teams; England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with Northern Ireland winning the trophy.
As football continued to gain interest across the world, other nations put together teams at the start of the 20th century, and during the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics, football was held as a demonstration sport, and with no medals being issued to the competing teams. Despite the lack of medals, the International Olympic Committee considered the demonstration to be a success, and football tournament has been held at the Olympic Games ever since.
FIFA was founded in 1904, and one of its first responsibilities was the attempt to hold a football tournament outside of the Olympic framework, which took place in Switzerland in 1906. The tournament was, however, considered to be a failure by FIFA, although given that this first competition went on to lay the groundwork for the World Cup, it could have been considered a success.
During the 1908 Summer Olympic Games, held in London, football was designated as an official Olympic sport. The Football Association, England’s football governing body, planned the event, although it was looked at unfavourably by many, as the event was for amateur football players only, and many spectators considered it to be a show rather than a proper competition. Great Britain was represented by the England national amateur football team and managed to secure the gold medal. They managed to repeat this feat during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm.
FIFA decided to change the designation of the football tournament in 1924, which subsequently became the start of FIFA’s professional era. With FIFA looking to create a tournament outside of the Olympic Games, it was decided that they would create a separate tournament, leading to the creation of the FIFA World Cup.