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    25 Genuinely Interesting Facts About The World Cup To Read Between Games

    The winning team takes home $38 million in prize money!

    1. The first official FIFA World Cup tournament was held in 1930.

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    Uruguay was selected as the host nation, and ended up defeating Argentina 4-2 to be crowned the World Cup's first winner.

    2. And 22-year-old Lucien Laurent from France scored the opening goal.

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    The goal was scored in the 19th minute while playing against Mexico.

    3. But it wasn't until 1991 that an equivalent for women's football was created.

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    The first FIFA Women's World Cup took place in China, with 12 countries taking part. Team USA ended up nabbing the trophy in a final against Norway.

    4. Coverage of the World Cup has become so popular that it's overtaken the Olympic Games to become the most viewed and followed sporting event.

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    The 2006 World Cup in particular drew in some HUGE numbers.

    5. And the final between Argentina and Germany in the 2014 Brazil World Cup had over one billion viewers.

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    Now that's an impressive stat.

    6. Although 77 nations have played in at least one World Cup, only eight of those have actually won.

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    Brazil takes the lead with five titles, followed by Germany and Italy with four, Argentina and Uruguay with two, and France, England, and Spain with a single win.

    7. As well as being the most successful World Cup team, Brazil is the only nation to have played in every tournament to date.

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    8. And Pelé, who has played for Brazil in four World Cups, has won the most championships as a single player.

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    Pelé helped lead Brazil to victory in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

    9. The World Cup trophy has been stolen on two separate occasions.

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    Just before the start of the 1966 World Cup in England, the trophy, which was displayed in a public exhibition, was stolen. It was eventually recovered with help from a dog named Pickles. Later in 1983, Brazil's trophy from their third win vanished from its bulletproof case in Rio de Janeiro. Arrests were made, but the original trophy was never recovered.

    10. And because of this, the trophy is no longer awarded to the winning team permanently.

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    Winners now receive a gold-plated replica that they're allowed to keep.

    11. Including 2018, the World Cup has taken place 21 times in 17 different countries.

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    The tournament wasn't held in 1942 and 1946 because of World War II.

    12. Following their defeat in Russia, Germany became the fourth World Cup winner to be eliminated in the group stages.

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    Strangely enough, there's a pattern of World Cup champions being unable to advance past the group stages of the following tournament. First there was France, who won in 1998 and had a group stage exit in 2002, then Italy, who had suffered a similar fate in 2006 and 2010, followed by Spain in 2010 and 2014, and now Germany.

    13. And it's the first time since 1938 that the German team have been knocked out in the group stages.

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    To see Germany exit so early on in the competition was a massive surprise, especially considering they've finished at least third in the last four World Cups.

    14. Despite being some of the best football players of their generation, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have never won a World Cup.

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    Including this year, Messi's had four previous cracks at securing the trophy. The closest he's been was in 2014 when Argentina was overpowered by Germany in the finals. Ronaldo's the same with four attempts under his belt, but Portugal's best result was finishing in fourth place in 2006. Considering that both of them are in the later stages of their career, it's unclear whether either of them will return for the 2022 World Cup.

    15. In Russia, Peru scored their first World Cup goal in 36 years.

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    Although Peru were knocked out in the group stages, it was their first World Cup appearance since 1982. Andre Carrillo had the honour of scoring the goal in the Australia vs. Peru match, followed by a second one from Jose Paolo Guerrero.

    16. The biggest margin of victory in a World Cup still belongs to Hungary, who beat El Salvador 10-1 in 1982.

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    But if we're including qualifying rounds for the World Cup, then the match between Australia and American Samoa in 2001, where the final score was 31-0, trumps this.

    17. The youngest player to ever appear at a World Cup tournament is Norman Whiteside from Northern Ireland.

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    Whiteside represented Northern Ireland in the 1982 World Cup when he was only 17 years and 41 days old.

    18. And the oldest player is Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.

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    At 45 years and 161 days, El-Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history when he played against Saudi Arabia in 2018.

    19. Mirsolav Klose from Germany holds the record for the most goals scored overall in World Cup matches.

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    Klose, who represented Germany in the World Cup from 2002-2014, scored 16 goals over the 24 matches he played.

    20. Whereas Frenchman Just Fontaine is still unbeatable, with the 13 goals he scored in the 1958 World Cup.

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    While Klose holds the title of highest overall goal scorer, Fontaine still reigns with his record of highest goal scorer in a single tournament.

    21. The winning team will take home $38 million of prize money, while the runner-ups will win $28 million for their efforts.

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    Third and fourth place don't finish off too bad either – they'll receive $24 and $22 million respectively. And even if a team gets knocked out in the group stages, they'll still win $8 million.

    22. Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthäus, and Gianluigi Buffon have all equally participated in the highest number of World Cup tournaments.

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    The three of them have been involved in five World Cups each.

    23. The fastest goal ever scored in a World Cup was done in the first 15 seconds of a match.

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    Seconds after kickoff, Hakan Şükür from Turkey managed to score against South Korea in 2002. The official goal time was 10.8 seconds.

    24. Iceland and Panama made their debut at the 2018 World Cup.


    After 12 failed qualification campaigns for Iceland, and 10 for Panama, both nations finally succeeded in qualifying for the World Cup.

    25. And for the first time in World Cup history, the 2026 tournament will be shared by three hosts: USA, Canada, and Mexico.

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    There'll also be an expansion to 48 qualifying teams instead of the usual 32.