12 facts about the World Cup that explain why soccer is such a popular sport

It feels like the whole world can stop when it’s finally time to turn on the TV and enjoy. Many extraordinary events took place at this extraordinary tournament. Below is some information about those extraordinary events.

1. Youngest player to score at a World Cup

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In 1958, the World Cup took place in Sweden, a young Brazilian player who would forever change football history appeared on the field – Pelé. At just 17 years old, he scored his first goal at the World Cup to help Canarinhos reach the semi-finals. Little did he know that a few days later he would also become the youngest person to win the World Cup and 12 years later, he is the only player to win three titles with his national team.

2. Come back, let’s keep playing!

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During the opening of the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, Brazilian referee Almeida Rego counted down and blew the whistle, ending the match between Argentina and France with 6 minutes left in official time. The Argentines were leading 1-0 and the French tried to equalize at the final whistle.

The Argentinian team celebrates while the French protest. The referee corrected the mistake and allowed the match to continue with the remaining 6 minutes. Police had to intervene to force cheering fans to leave the field. The remaining 6 minutes were played, but the score remained unchanged.

3. The first football world cup to be broadcast in color

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The 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico was in many ways one of the most memorable events in sports history. Among other things, because for the first time matches were broadcast in color. This is also the World Cup with many “firsts” such as: the first to be shown worldwide, the first to be held outside of Europe and South America and the first to have elements classics of this sport, such as cards and tactical changes.

4. The match with the most goals in history

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In the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1954, there was a match between Switzerland and Austria with 12 goals scored: 7 goals scored by Austria and 5 goals scored by the home team. This is the highest number of goals scored (so far) in a single World Cup match.

5. Fastest goal scored at the World Cup

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Special football anecdotes are not just from the distant past. At the 2002 World Cup, in the match between South Korea and Türkiye, Hakan Şükür scored the fastest goal of any goal scored at the World Cup. Türkiye took the lead after just 11 seconds of the match.

6. Two brothers are on opposing teams

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During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, an unprecedented situation occurred in World Cup history. The Boateng brothers faced each other on the field while playing for two different national teams in the Ghana-Germany group stage match. Jérôme plays for the German national team, while Kevin-Prince plays for Ghana.

7. World top scorer

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When considering the candidates for top scorer, most people think of the most famous names, such as Maradona, Pelé, Ronaldo (Nazário and Cristiano) and Messi. However, it is France’s Just Fontaine who holds the title of top scorer with an unmatched scoring record in a tournament of 13 goals in 6 matches at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

8. Mexican Wave

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What is now known as the Mexican wave was most likely born in a baseball stadium, but this type of doping did not become widespread until 1986. During the match between Bulgaria and Italy, cameras recorded moved again in the stands. The first (or at least the most popular) wave in the stands in the world of football took place at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico, hence the word “Mexican wave”.

9. The Gold Cup is transported by private plane

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When a national team wins the World Cup, they lift the real, original Gold Cup at the stadium. But when they returned home, they could only keep a copy of the Cup. The replica of the Cup is made of gilded bronze. The original is made of 18 kt gold and is kept at FIFA headquarters in Switzerland. The real Gold Cup only travels on the world tour before the World Cup. At the end of the tournament, the Cup was brought back to Switzerland by private plane.

10. Maracanaço – Anguish in the Maracana

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Maracanaço (roughly translated as “the agony of Maracana”) refers to the match between Uruguay and Brazil to determine the world championship. The final match of the 1950 World Cup, the only one without a classic final, was held at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. A draw was enough for the Brazilians to win the championship. Everyone condemned Uruguay for defeat, but on the contrary, Charrúas defeated Brazil 2-1.

The scale of the surprise caused by the Uruguay national team was demonstrated by the fact that fans and the media declared Brazil the new world champions just a few days before the match. And for good reason – Canarinhos are in phenomenal form, their aggressive play and record of 21 goals in five matches ahead of the decisive clash with Uruguay have made the Brazilians the favourites.

11. Messi follows in Maradona’s footsteps

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In Argentina’s match against Mexico in Qatar, Messi equaled Diego Armando Maradona as the Argentine player with the most appearances at a World Cup with a total of 21 matches and set a new record against Poland.

12. The shortest World Cup in history

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In 2010, FIFA decided that the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be held from November 21 to December 18 in Qatar. This date was chosen because of the high summer temperatures during which the tournament usually takes place. The unusual timing of these championships has affected leagues, cups and other football events, making it necessary to shorten the tournament.

However, this is not the shortest world championship in history – it was held in 1934 in Italy. They only last 14 days, but they are played by 16 teams, not 32, and 17 matches, not 64.

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