The World Cup is upon us and all eyes will descend on Qatar…in eight months?
The 2022 World Cup, hosted by Qatar, will buck the summer tradition to take place in November. However, it’s not too early to start hedging your bets on who will come out on top with 29 of the 32-team field already being set on the heels of the last qualifiers this week.
With soccer largely considered the most popular sport in the world, over a billion people will be expected to tune in to the quadrennial competition, picking up on the international stage right where we left off with the Tokyo Olympics.
Read below for everything you need to know ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
When was the first World Cup?
Soccer took the international stage by storm at the turn of the 20th century. After it made its Olympic debut at the 1900 Games in Paris, national teams continued to form and international federations followed with FIFA being established in 1904.
However, it wasn’t until 1930 that the World Cup officially kicked off, after considerable debate over the Olympics and the amateur status of athletes. FIFA named Uruguay, the two-time defending Olympic champion, the host of the inaugural tournament, much to the ire of many European countries who protested the decision to pick a country so far away from Europe.
FIFA president Jules Rimet eventually persuaded Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia to make the trip to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital and the host of all the tournament’s games, and join Mexico, the U.S. and seven South American countries. Uruguay won the tournament, establishing a tradition of host countries winning the tournament, one that has been repeated five times since.
How many countries have won a World Cup?
Eight countries have won the World Cup in the tournament’s 92-year history.
Brazil leads the pack with five trophies, followed by Germany and Italy with four apiece. Argentina, France and Uruguay have all won two titles, and England and Spain round out the champions’ corner with one trophy each.
Which country has the most World Cup appearances?
Brazil’s five World Cup championships are the result of 21 consecutive appearances, making them the only country to participate in every World Cup.
Seven other countries have appeared in 15 or more World Cups. The list of top 10 World Cup appearances is below.
- Brazil (21)
- Germany (19)
- Italy (18)
- Argentina (17)
- Mexico (16)
- France (15)
- England (15)
- Spain (15)
- Uruguay (13)
- Belgium (13)
The U.S. is 16th out of 77 countries that have participated, with ten appearances to its name.
The Americans made their World Cup debut in 1930 at the inaugural tournament held in Uruguay and competed again in 1950 before a 40-year drought kept them out of competition. They qualified in 1990, one tournament ahead of hosting the country’s first World Cup in 1994. This return to the competition on the international stage marked a 24-year streak, during which the U.S. posted an 8th place finish at the 2002 World Cup, played in both Korea and Japan.
Who are the leading goal scorers in World Cup history?
Some athletes are just built for the big moments, and Miroslav Klose is certainly one of them.
The German national scored 16 goals from 2002 to 2014, leading Germany to its fourth World Cup championship in his final appearance and overtaking Ronaldo’s record 15 goals in the process. While Klose built an impressive club resume, playing in both Serie A and Bundesliga and winning two league championships with Bayern Munich, his career was largely defined by his performance on the international stage.
Thirteen players have notched double-digit goals, including Jurgen Klinsmann, former coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, who scored 11 goals for Germany across three World Cups, including a tournament victory in 1990.
What countries have hosted the World Cup in the past?
Seventeen countries have had the honor of hosting a World Cup.
Five countries have hosted the tournament twice: Brazil, Italy, France, Germany -- once as West Germany and once as Germany -- and Mexico. Another 12 countries have hosted once: Argentina, England, Spain, Japan, Sweden, Chile, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Uruguay and the U.S.
Qatar is the newest addition to the list, set to host in November 2022 followed by the North American trio of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. This will be Canada’s first time hosting the tournament and the second and third times for the U.S. and Mexico, respectively.
2026 will also be only the second time multiple countries have shared hosting responsibilities, the first done so by South Korea and Japan in 2002.
How do countries qualify for the World Cup?
The World Cup truly is a global event, with countries from around the world competing to represent their corner of the world on the international stage.
With the exception of the host country -- in this case Qatar -- that receives an automatic bid, the other 31 competing countries all receive bids through FIFA’s previously-determined quotas for each continental governing body. The allocations are:
- Africa (CAF): 5
- Asia (AFC): 4, plus 1 for host (Qatar)
- Europe (UEFA): 13
- North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3
- South America (CONMEBOL): 4
- Intercontinental playoff qualifiers: 2 spots
As of the end of March, 29 of the 32 spots had been filled. The remaining three playoff qualifiers will be held in June with Wales taking on either Scotland or Ukraine, Peru taking on either the United Arab Emirates or Australia, and Costa Rica taking on New Zealand.
Who is hosting the 2022 World Cup?
FIFA’s decision to select Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host is now over a decade in the making and has not been without its controversy.
Qatar, a peninsular country that shares a border with Saudi Arabia, has come under fire for accusations of corruption, bribery and human rights violations, particularly regarding inhumane working conditions at the venues and the country’s well-documented discrimination against the LBGTQ+ community.
Furthermore, due to the exceptionally hot climate, with summer temperatures regularly exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the traditional schedule with games typically running from mid-June to mid-July was determined not feasible. Rather, the tournament will begin November 21 with the finals scheduled for December 18. This will be the first time the World Cup will be held during winter in the northern hemisphere.
Who are the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup?
Brazil once again looks set to continue its run of dominance, currently leading the odds eight months out from the opening game. However, they’ll have stiff competition from the European forces headlined by the defending champions France and joined by England, Spain, Germany and Belgium.
Partial odds for the 2022 World Cup are below. The complete standings are available here.
- Brazil +500
- France +600
- England +700
- Spain +700
- Germany +900
- Belgium +1000
- Argentina +1000
- Portugal +1400
- Netherlands +1600
- Denmark +2800
- Croatia +5000
- Uruguay +5000
- United States +7000
What countries are hosting the World Cup in the future?
Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will team up in 2026 to become the first trio of countries to host the World Cup together. The 16 cities are yet to be determined, but it’s believed that the majority of matches will be held in the U.S. The North American trio beat out a bid from Morocco 134-65.
Looking ahead to 2030, no host country has been determined, but a number of countries have placed bids. Following the successful joint bid for 2026, the majority of the countries have joined forces with their neighbors in their quest to put on the tournament.
The four confirmed bids are:
- Morocco (rumored to potentially add Tunisia and Algeria to its application)
There are several other unconfirmed bids. The process is set to officially open sometime in 2022 with the vote scheduled for the 74th FIFA Congress in 2024.