Excited for the FIFA World Cup? Looking to impress your friends with superior football knowledge? Get the best fun facts about the World Cup here!
Are you ready to cheer on your favorite nations at the FIFA World Cup? The long 4 year wait is over as the World Cup moves from the vast expanse of Russia in 2018 to the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar in 2022.
If you’re reading these World Cup facts just before the 2022 World Cup, you can tell us you think is going to win it in the comments below!
The global sport of football (or soccer as the Americans call it) is the most popular on the planet, and the World Cup is the crown jewel.
That’s why we dedicated this entire article to all the fun facts about the World Cup. You can use these to impress all your mates before the big game.
The only required piece of equipment for football is the humble ball, and this allows people from all walks of life to enjoy the beautiful game. This means that the teams who qualify to play in the World Cup come from every corner of the globe.
In fact, 76 countries have been to the World Cup at least once, and that number is expected to grow as more teams will be added to the competition in 2026.
So get ready to discover the dominant countries, the craziest hosts and the biggest crowds ever gathered with these wild FIFA World Cup facts!
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this year’s host nation, check out our fun facts about Qatar too!
22 Fun Facts About The World Cup
1. What a crowd!
The largest attendance for a football match was the 1950 World Cup final of Brazil vs Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Now this is a mind-blowing statistic: an estimated 200,000 people attended the match which was won by Uruguay with a score of 2-1. We told you we were bringing the most extreme World Cup facts!
2. Three host nations
The 2026 World Cup will be a special one for many reasons. For the first time ever there will be three host nations, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The other new twist on the World Cup format is that 48 teams will vie for the title, up from the 24 teams of the past!
3. Brazil is number 1
When it comes to World Cup titles Brazil reigns supreme. Brazil are 5-time winners of the World Cup in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Not only that, Brazil is also the only country to qualify for all 22 editions of the World Cup!
4. The world is watching
The World Cup is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event. According to FIFA, 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of World Cup action during the 2018 tournament in Russia.
That’s almost 50% of the world’s population! Where will you be watching from this year?
5. The elusive three-peat
In the history of the World Cup, no team has won three straight championships, but two teams have come oh-so-close.
Italy won back-to-back World Cups in 1934 and 1938, and Brazil also won two-in-a-row in 1958 and 1962. Will we ever see a three-peat on the World Cup stage? We’re not betting on it!
6. Small but mighty Uruguay
The tiny South American nation of Uruguay is perhaps the biggest success story in World Cup history.
The nation of 1.5 million people in 1930 not only hosted the World Cup but won the whole thing! Even more impressive, 20 years later in 1950, Uruguay did it again!
7. There’s money to be made
Teams not only get a lifetime of glory being World Cup champions, the national teams actually get paid millions of dollars!
In fact, the winning team receives $42 million, while the runner-up gets a cool $38 million. Even participating teams that don’t make it out of the group stages will pocket a tidy $10 million. How’s that for a FIFA World Cup fact!?
8. The profits of FIFA
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) is a multi-billion dollar industry. While we could talk about the scandals and alleged vote-fixing that plagues the organization, we’re going to focus on their revenue for hosting the World Cup.
With sponsorships and ticket sales, each iteration of the World Cup nets FIFA over $6 billion.
9. World Cup babies
Here’s one of the weirdest World Cup facts: the birth rates go up in countries that are doing well in the World Cup. Two reasons for this: alcohol consumption and excitement when your team wins.
In fact, when Germany hosted the tournament in 2006 and placed 3rd, the birth rate in the entire country jumped by 10% just 9 months later!
10. Drain your bank account
Hosting the World Cup is one of the most expensive undertakings a country can take on. The most expensive World Cup to date was the 2018 World Cup in Russia that cost 14.2 billion.
Other expensive World Cups include the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (US$11.6 billion) and Germany 2006 (US$6 billion).
11. The list of winners
Only eight countries have ever won the World Cup. Brazil (5), Italy (4), Germany (4), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), France (2), England (1), Spain (1).
And here’s a shoutout for the Netherlands. Never a winner, the Netherlands have the auspicious distinction of being the runner-up on 3 different occasions.
12. So many goals!
The most goals ever scored by one team in a World Cup match happened at the 1982 World Cup, where Hungary thrashed El Salvador 10-1.
Even though they exploded for 10 goals, the Hungarian team was unable to make it out of the group stage. The El Salvadorians would go on to be outscored 16-2 in their three games. Ouch.
13. Seeing red… and yellow
Now this is one of the fun facts about the World Cup that is almost unbelievable! A round of 16 match at the 2006 World Cup between Portugal and the Netherlands descended into total madness.
The teams combined for a total of 16 yellow cards and 4 red cards. Wow! No wonder this match is known as the Massacre of Nuremberg.
14. The golden boot
Who has scored the most World Cup goals of all-time? That’s Miroslav Klose of Germany with 16 goals (4 appearances). Ronaldo of Brazil is second with 15 goals (3 appearances).
One of the most impressive, however, is Just Fontaine of France who scored all 13 of his World Cup goals at one World Cup!
15. Extreme heat
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first played in the winter months. Usually a summer tradition, the 2022 World Cup matches will be played in November and December in fully air-conditioned stadiums. Even in the winter months Qatar averages temperatures of 86℉ (30℃).
16. The Berlin Wall
Here’s one of the most incredible World Cup facts: Bodo Illgner the goalkeeper for West Germany was the first to have a clean sheet (no goals allowed) in a World Cup Final. Germany would win the 1990 World Cup over Argentina 1-0.
In fact, Illgner stood on his head all tournament allowing 1 goal per game through the group and knockout stages.
17. Blink and you’ll miss it
Turkish legend Hakan Sukur scored the fastest goal in World Cup history. During the bronze medal match versus Korea at the 2002 World Cup, Sukur found the back of the net just 10.8 seconds into the game!
Turkey would go on to win the match 3-2 for their highest finish at the World Cup.
18. Women’s World Cup
We have to mention the FIFA Women’s World Cup which has been played 8 times since 1991. Be on the lookout for a Fun Facts article in the future!
The first FIFA Women’s World Cup was played in China and four countries have won the big prize. The USA (4 titles), Germany (2), Norway (1) and Japan (1).
19. Modernizing the game
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was the most innovative of all time. First, the introduction of goal line technology was implemented. Second, drones and robots were utilized for security. Third, referees used vanishing spray to mark free kicks.
20. The famous noisemaker
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the first time the continent of Africa hosted the World Cup! While Spain captured their first World Cup title, it was the vuvuzela that stole the show.
The African horn which makes a buzzing noise led to complaints by players who said the noisemaker was the reason for their bad play!
21. Every corner of the globe
The first televised World Cup was the 1952 event hosted by Switzerland. The first global broadcast of the World Cup came later in Mexico in 1970. And live World Cup action finally reached Antarctica during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
22. One more word on Brazil
Brazil is the country with the most World Cup match wins with 73. They’ve also scored the most goals in tournament history with 224.
Could it be Brazil’s chance to get another World Cup title after a 20-year drought? Or will another team reign supreme?
Did we satisfy your hunger for World Cup facts? Or are there a bunch of fun facts about the World Cup that we left out? Give us your best shot in the comments below!