With just over a year before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we look at how it all began. 

The History of the FIFA World Cup

The first FIFA World Cup was held back in the year 1930, which was when Jules Rimet, president of FIFA at that time, decided it was time to stage a tournament featuring international football teams facing off against one another.

That first World Cup was contested as an eventual tournament of just 13 teams, who had been invited to partake by FIFA, but it has grown exponentially since then and, besides a total remodel of the format of the competition, it now features 32 teams, with these chosen over a qualifying process that takes 2 years and involves 200 teams worldwide.

Football Itself is an Age Old Game

The first international football match officially recorded took place in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1872, and was between that country’s team and the one representing England. The game was, however, rarely played outside the United Kingdom at this point.

By the time 1900 rolled around, however, football had started gaining popularity globally, and several national football associations were in the process of being founded. The 1st official international match to take place outside for the British Isles was between Argentina and Uruguay, in Montevideo, in July of 1902.

The Founding of FIFA in 1904

FIFA itself was established in Paris, France, on the 22nd of May of 1904, and was comprised of the football associations of France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden, with Germany pledging to enter. The French and Belgian teams had played their first international match against one another earlier on that May.

The markets which punters have access to these days, like those which any of the many NZ betting sites make available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, were not in existence then, but betting most certainly took place on the outcomes of these games.

Olympic Recognition for Football in 1908

Thanks to the steady increase in popularity of football, it was put forward as an Olympic sport recognised by the IOC at the Summer Olympics of both 1900 and 1904, and the Intercalated Games of 1906, before going on to become officially part of the 1908 Summer Olympics, supervised by FIFA.

This event was restricted to amateur players only, being thought of as more of a show at that point than a competition, and was organised by the Football Association of England. The national amateur football team from England managed to win the event in 1908 and again in 1912.

Amateur Teams Starting Turning Professional

With the football events of the Olympics staying amateur, other competitions which involved professional players also started being organised.

In Turin in 1908, the Torneo Internazionale Stampa Sportiva marked the first of these, and Sir Thomas Lipton organised a competition offering a trophy in his name in Turin the following year as well. Both of these tournaments were contested by individual clubs rather than national teams, although the clubs taking part did represent various nations. For this reason the Thomas Lipton Trophy of 1909 is sometimes described as the 1st of the Football World Cups.

Today, the FIFA World Cup is held every 4 years and is the biggest soccer event on the international sports calendar.