The World Cup is the world series of soccer. Since 1930 (except during World War II), the international championship games have been played every four years, sandwiched between the OLYMPIC GAMES. The series was started under the auspices of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and is now the best attended and most-watched sporting event in the world. According to FIFA estimates, about 700 million viewers worldwide watched the final match of the 2010 World Cup.
Soccer is also called football or association football; the word soccer comes from assoc., an abbreviation for “association.” It originated in England in the public schools (which are actually more like American private schools), and spread to universities and then into local clubs, attracting more and more working-class players. British sailors took the game to Brazil in the 1870s, and businessmen carried it to Prague and Vienna in the 1880s and 1890s. Belgium and France began an annual series of games in 1903. In 1904, international competition was such that FIFA was formed, and by 1998, it claimed more than 200 member associations in 77 nations. In 1946, the trophy was named the Jules Rimet Cup for the president of FIFA from 1921 to 1954.
From its inception the World Cup has been played on a rotating basis between Europe and the Americas, but in 2002, Korea and Japan co-hosted the World Cup in Asia for the first time.
The first Women's World Cup tournament was held in 1991, sixty-one years after the men's first FIFA World Cup. It was the first cup ever taken by the United States. There have been six women's championships since 1991, won by four different national teams. The United States (1991, 1999) and Germany (2003, 2007) have both won twice, with Norway (1995) and Japan (2011) each winning once. The upcoming Women's World Cup will take place in Canada in 2015, and in France in 2019.
The first World Cup was played in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Uruguay won. Brazil has won the World Cup five times; Italy and Germany have each won four times. Argentina and Uruguay have each captured two Cups, while Spain, France and England have won one each. Brazil's wins came in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002; the first three happened under the leadership of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé and sometimes as the Pérola Negra, or “Black Pearl.” A Brazilian national hero and at the time one of the best-known athletes in the world, the 5’8” Pelé combined kicking strength and accuracy with the knack of anticipating other players’ moves. He announced his retirement in 1974 but in 1975 signed a three-year $7 million contract with the New York Cosmos; after leading them to the North American Soccer League championship in 1977, he retired for good.
The next two World Cups will be hosted by Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
International Federation of Association Football
P.O. Box 8044
Zurich, 8044 Switzerland
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