History of the World Cup: How the Game Became Ingrained in World Culture

The World Cup, the most-watched sporting event in the world, draws billions of viewers.

More than half of the global population tunes into the World Cup final.

How did this sporting event capture the imaginations of the international community?

It all began with the Olympic Games.

The End & The Beginning

After debuting at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, football was dropped from the Olympics’ program in 1932, after a dispute between FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.

The FIFA committee decided to put on their own global event and chose Uruguay as the World Cup’s first host, after the nation won back-to-back gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.

This put a crunch on European teams, as Europe was experiencing a depression, and many players did not want to risk losing their jobs (unlike today, players weren’t awarded hundreds of thousands+ then) to attend the tournament.

This resulted in many favored European teams (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, etc.) opting out of the world’s first-ever World Cup.

To appeal to European teams to participate, Uruguay offered to assist in travel expenses, which drew France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

Some leaders seemed to know that this was the beginning of something big.

Romanian King Carol, for example, provided players (whom he chose personally) a three-month vacation from their work and guaranteed employment upon their return.

With the roster set, the 1930 World Cup kicked off in Montevideo on July 13.

Yesterday & Today

In 2018, more than half of the global population – some 3.57 billion viewers – watched the World Cup final.

The first world cup final was viewed by 93,000 spectators.

93,000 football fans watched the competition’s two favorites, Uruguay and Argentina, battle it out to a 4–2 win for the host country.

Today, five-time World Cup winner, Brazil, is favored to win the 2022 World Cup.

But the games are not yet over…