The World Cup in football is one the biggest sporting events as millions tune in to watch national teams take home the most coveted trophy in the history of the sport.
So, as the world prepares for the 2022 Qatar competition, it’s time to refresh fans’ minds about some of the greatest World Cup facts.
Top 8 Fascinating World Cup Facts and Statistics
- The 2018 World Cup had a prize pool of $791 million.
- Brazil has the most World Cup tournament wins in the world.
- In 2018, FIFA generated more than $4.6 billion in revenue.
- The most expensive ticket for the 2018 World Cup cost $1,100.
- The FIFA World Cup pulls in more views than the Super Bowl.
- 3.03 million people attended the games at the 2018 World Cup.
- Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer at the World Cup.
- Building the World Cup Stadium has cost Qatar $220 billion.
World Cup History Facts and Stats
1. The First World Cup happened because it wasn’t initially included in the Olympics.
FIFA had been trying for years to host an international football tournament, so when the sport was dropped from the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, president Jules Rimet finally organised the first-ever World Cup in football. It took place in 1930 in Uruguay and was won by the host country, beating Argentina 4-2 to the trophy.
2. How often is the World Cup?
The World Cup is one of the most significant sporting events globally, so four years is necessary to accommodate qualification tournaments and playoffs for national teams.
In addition, four years is enough time for the host countries to plan and prepare the logistics required to welcome fans and athletes from around the world.
3. The 2018 World Cup had a prize pool of $791 million.
By the time Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, the total prize pool had reached $791 million giving the winning team, France, $35 million. The runner-up, Croatia, got $25 million, whereas teams that got knocked out in the group stages, like Germany and Austria, received $8 million as a consolation prize.
In comparison, the 2022 World Cup Qatar has a $1 billion total fund with the winning team set to earn $50 million, making it the biggest prize pool in World Cup history.
4. Who has the most World Cup titles?
Brazil has a rich history of dominating the World Cup with five wins under their belt. Interestingly, FIFA World Cup facts reveal that only six countries have taken home the prestigious title of champions more than once.
These are Germany and Italy, each with four wins, and Uruguay, Argentina, and France with two. England and Spain have one trophy each.
5. The highest number of goals scored during a World Cup in 171.
171 goals were scored both during the 2014 and 1998 World Cup held in Brazil and France, respectively. The 2014 FIFA World Cup also saw the highest number of goal scorers in the history of the tournament—121 players managed to get past the opposing team’s goalkeeper.
This World Cup witnessed some of the highest-scoring games in history, as well, including the Netherlands and Spain 5-1 and the unforgettable Germany vs Brazil semi-final that ended 7-1 for the Germans.
General World Cup Statistics
6. In 2018, FIFA generated more than $4.6 billion in revenue.
If you thought that FIFA is just one of the most popular video games, you were completely wrong. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, although a nonprofit organisation, makes money through marketing, television, and licensing rights for football events like the World Cup.
Thus, according to 2018 FIFA World Cup statistics, the Federation had amassed a staggering $4.6 billion in revenue.
7. The 2018 World Cup mainly invested in local organisations.
Most of FIFA’s investments go back into the development of the sport. For example, World Cup 2018 facts reveal that $627 million of the $1.9 billion investment budget was syphoned to local organisations in Russia to cultivate football as a professional sport in the country.
Meanwhile, $400 million went to that year’s prize pool and $241 million was spent on TV production.
8. The most expensive ticket in the 2018 World Cup cost $1,100.
Watching the World Cup is also costly, as fans pay as high as $1,100 for tickets for the World Cup finals. According to World Cup statistics, in 2018, the tickets were divided into four groups for the seven events.
The opening match tickets were as low as $50, while the VIP tickets cost $550.
World Cup Viewership Statistics
9. How many people watch the World Cup?
The Super Bowl may be a big deal in the world of sport, but its viewership pales in comparison to the World Cup.
Judging by FIFA World Cup viewers statistics, the average global TV viewership for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was 517 million, while its predecessors, the 2010 South Africa World Cup and the 2014 Brazil World Cup, garnered 531 million and 562 million, respectively.
By comparison, the 2020 Super Bowl LIV only managed to draw an average of 99.9 million viewers in the United States, and the estimates for international viewership range from 30 to 50 million.
10. 210 countries broadcast the FIFA 2018 World Cup.
Asia noted the highest audience reach (44%) and the biggest number of viewing hours (10.66 billion). The final match, on the other hand, was watched by an average of 19.93 million in France and 1.54m in Croatia (the two finalists), having a total audience reach of 1.12 billion.
11. 3.03 million people attended the games at the 2018 World Cup.
The average attendance was 47,371. As impressive as these World Cup statistics are, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil outshines them in terms of average and total attendance—3.43 million people watched the 64 matches, while the average number of visitors was 53,592 per game.
World Cup Records
12. Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer at the World Cup.
Famous German footballer Miroslav Klose is the leading goal scorer at the World Cup, with 16 goals. FIFA World Cup stats point to Brazilian football superstar Ronaldo as second with 15, while another German legend, Gerhard “Gerd” Müller, had scored 14, putting him in third place among the top goal scorers.
13. Lothar Matthäus has had the most appearances at World Cups.
With a total of 25 appearances, German midfielder Lothar Matthäus is number one on the list. He is followed by Miroslav Klose and former AC Milan superstar Paolo Maldini, who have appeared 24 and 23 times, accordingly, in World Cups between 1930 and 2018.
14. Messi and Neymar were the highest valued players at the 2018 World Cup.
With an estimated transfer value of 180m euros, legendary number 10 footballers Lionel Messi and Neymar were the most expensive players at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Liverpool’s Mo Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and England’s captain Harry Kane were each valued at 150 million euros.
World Cup Fun Facts
15. Essam El Hadary is the oldest player to ever play in the World Cup.
Retired Egyptian player and goalkeeping legend Essam El Hadary is the oldest player to ever play in the World Cup to date, at 45. In his final match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 World Cup, he also saved Fahad Al Muwallad’s penalty, making him the oldest ever goalkeeper to save a penalty.
16. The fastest ever goal in the World Cup was made 10.89 seconds after the kick-off.
The fastest goal ever scored in a World Cup belongs to Turkish player Hakan Sukur. He scored a goal against South Korea during the 2002 World Cup within a record-breaking 10.89 seconds after the kick-off.
17. Building the World Cup stadium has cost Qatar $220 billion.
Qatar had no experience with football before, hence the need to build facilities to accommodate the tournament.
The country has spent $220 billion on making Lusail Stadium; the city specifically built for the World Cup. By comparison, the 2010 South Africa World Cup cost only $3.5 billion to set up.
18. Ooredoo is a regional sponsor of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
This telecommunications company was named the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, reinforcing the organisation’s commitment to FIFA’s main events. Incidentally, this company became the official sponsor of the Formula One World Championship when Qatar was added to the F1 calendar in 2021.
Ready for Qatar 2022?
Can’t wait for the 2022 edition of the popular football competition?
Hopefully, these World Cup facts will remind you of some of the best moments in football history and get you even more excited to watch, cheer and bet on your team to win.