With the FIFA World Cup 2022 beginning in Qatar, now is an excellent opportunity to brush up on your World Cup knowledge.
It’s that time of year again! It’s time to dust off your vuvuzelas, cram in as much televised World Cup action as possible between work and sleep, and head to a nearby pub with your mates to watch England embarrass themselves on the world stage (again).
Whether you’re pretending to be an expert on penalty shootouts or just want to sound knowledgeable when everyone starts chatting about tactics, we’ve got all the World Cup stats and facts you need right here. So read on, learn something new, and impress your friends with your newfound soccer knowledge!
What Is the World Cup?
Perhaps you’ve never paid attention to the World Cup and have only recently picked up an interest in soccer. If that’s the case, don’t worry – we’ll cover the basics before we get to the really interesting statistics.
To be clear, we are going to be checking out soccer stats and facts. If you are looking for football/NFL stats and facts, you won’t find them here.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest and most prestigious international soccer tournament in the world. Held every four years, teams from all over the globe compete for the ultimate prize in world soccer.
The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. Since then, it has seen a total of 21 editions, each held in different countries worldwide. World Cups weren’t held in 1942 or 1946 because of World War II. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the 22nd edition of the popular event.
List of all World Cup Winners
- 1930 in Uruguay: Uruguay
- 1934 in Italy: Italy
- 1938 in France: Italy
- 1942 not held
- 1946 not held
- 1950 in Brazil: Uruguay
- 1954 in Switzerland: West Germany
- 1958 in Sweden: Brazil
- 1962 in Chile: Brazil
- 1966 in England: England
- 1970 in Mexico: Brazil
- 1974 in West Germany: West Germany
- 1978 in Argentina: Argentina
- 1982 in Spain: Italy
- 1986 in Mexico: Argentina
- 1990 in Italy: West Germany
- 1994 in the USA: Brazil
- 1998 in France: France
- 2002 in Japan: Brazil
- 2006 in Germany: Italy
- 2010 in South Africa: Spain
- 2014 in Brazil: Germany
- 2018 in Russia: France
- 2022 in Qatar: Ongoing
- Brazil has won the World Cup five times.
- Marco Tulio Coll Tesillo is the only player to score an Olympic goal at the World Cup.
- Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer at World Cups.
- Pelé is the only player to win three gold medals in the World Cups.
- The highest-scoring World Cup match was Austria vs. Switzerland, ending 7:5 for the Austrians.
- The quickest goal in World Cup history was scored 11 seconds into the game.
- The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the first to be held in the Middle East and only the second in Asia.
Team World Cup Stats
Just like most sports, soccer is a team sport. But who has been the most successful team in the World Cup, and what other teams are worth writing about? Let’s find out.
1. Brazil is the most successful team in World Cup history.
(The Soccer World Cups)
They have won a record five titles, with two of them being back-to-back (1958 and 1962). Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014) and Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006) are tied for second place with four titles. Other teams that have multiple World Cup titles include Uruguay (1930 and 1950), Argentina (1978 and 1986), and France (1998 and 2018).
England (1966) and Spain (2010) are the last two countries on the list, holding one title each.
2. In total, Brazil has won the most games.
It should be no surprise that Brazil has the most World Cup victories, with Germany close behind and Italy trailing in third place. Surprisingly, Germany and Brazil have both played the same number of games.
- Brazil – 109 matches; 73 wins | 18 losses | 18 draws
- Germany – 109 matches; 67 wins | 22 losses | 20 draws
- Italy – 83 matches; 45 wins | 17 losses | 21 draws
3. Mexico has the most World Cup losses of any nation.
Mexico is at the other end of the winning spectrum, having played 57 games but losing 27 of them. Not only have they managed to accumulate many losses, but they also got eliminated from six tournaments without winning a single match. To be fair, they are tied with Bulgaria on this one.
4. The Indian team declined to participate in the 1950 World Cup because they weren’t allowed to play barefoot, or so the myth goes.
(Los Angeles Times)
India qualified for the 1950 World Cup tournament but didn’t attend the competition due to: “disagreements over team selection and insufficient practice time.” This gave rise to the myth that the Indian team withdrew from the competition because they couldn’t play barefoot since they had trained to do so.
A couple of other reasons appeared over time, one of them being the cost of travel, but such costs were covered by the event organizers. Another one is that the World Cup event wasn’t taken seriously by India. They focused mainly on the 1952 Olympics, where they played barefoot and lost.
5. The total number of goals scored in the World Cups until 2022 is 2,548.
The total number of goals scored across all the World Cups played until 2022 is 2,548. The 1998 World Cup in France and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw the most goals scored – 171.
6. Three teams have faced each other seven times across the World Cups.
With so many matches, we have some interesting pairings, and some keep reoccurring.
Most meetings happen between these three teams:
- Brazil vs. Sweden
- Argentina vs. Germany
- Germany vs. Serbia/Yugoslavia
These teams have already faced one another seven times in soccer matches across all 21 FIFA World Cups. We’ll see if the 2022 Cup will bring any changes.
Soccer Players’ World Cup Stats
Soccer is a team sport, and, as such, overall team performance is more important than individual success. Yet certain players have left such an impact that their deeds are remembered and re-told, just like Babe Ruth’s ability to impact his baseball team’s overall statistics and change the course of the whole game is still discussed among baseball fans.
So, who are these star players in soccer, and what have they done to earn such a reputation?
1. Pelé is the only player to win three gold medals at the World Cups.
In total, 445 players have been on the winning team, with Edson Arantes do Nascimento, simply known as Pelé (Brazil), being the only one to do it three times and another 20 players (mostly Brazilians) having won the World Cup twice. This isn’t surprising since the Brazilian won five tournaments, scored the most goals (229), and had the most goalscorers (80).
While Pelé is the only one with three gold medals, Miroslav Klose (Germany) is the only player to hold four World Cup medals (one gold, one silver, and two bronze).
2. Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer.
While Pelé is the most successful player, he is only the fifth-highest goal-scoring player. With 15 goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is the second-highest-scoring player. He is one goal behind the leading goal scorer, Miroslav Klose (16 goals).
It’s worth noting that it took Klose and Ronaldo several World Cups to reach their records, while Just Fontaine scored all of his 13 goals in a single World Cup in 1958.
With Miroslav Klose now being the coach and Ronaldo participating in the 2022 World Cup, there is a big chance we’ll see a change in the leaderboard.
- Miroslav Klose (Germany): 16
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): 15
- Gerd Müller (West Germany): 14
- Just Fontaine (France): 13
- Pelé (Brazil): 12
3. Klose and Ronaldo have the most matches with two goals scored in World Cup history.
On that list, they are joined by Just Fontaine and Sándor Kocsis (Hungary). Of all of them, the only one still playing is Ronaldo.
4. Sándor Kocsis and Gerd Müller are the only players to score consecutive hat-tricks in the World Cup.
Not only do Just Fontaine and Sándor Kocsis have the most matches with two goals, but they also have the most hat tricks. In the most hat-trick category, they are joined by Gerd Müller and Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina). That said, only Sándor Kocsis and Gerd Müller are the only two players to have two consecutive hat-tricks in World Cup history.
5. In 1982, László Kiss scored the fastest hat-trick in World Cup history.
There is something with Hungarian players and hat-tricks. László Kiss (Hungary) scored the fastest hat-trick in history in just eight minutes against El Salvador in 1982. The best part is that he entered as a substitute, thus making history on two accounts.
6. Only one player managed to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals.
Geoff Hurst (England) is the only player in World Cup history who scored three goals in the final match. This happened in 1966 in a game against West Germany, which England famously won 4-2 to clinch its only World Cup victory to date.
7. FIFA World Cup records show that Marco Tulio Coll Tesillo is the only player to score an Olympic goal in the tournament’s history.
Marco Tulio Coll Tesillo from Colombia is the only player to ever score an Olympic goal (a goal scored directly from the corner) at the World Cup. This feat happened in the 1962 World Cup match against the Soviet Union. The Columbians were losing 4-1 when the Olympic goal landed in the net of famous Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
To explain just how hard such a feat was. Lev is the only goalkeeper in professional soccer history to have saved more than 150 penalty kicks and, on top of that, has kept more than 270 clean sheets in his career.
Keep in mind that this includes all of his soccer stats from all competitions, not just World Cup games. So he wasn’t some amateur upstart, but still, the goal landed.
The score was 4-4, but Colombia lost their next game to Yugoslavia after conceding five goals, which caused the team to finish last in their group.
8. Hong Deok-young (South Korea) conceded 16 goals in a single World Cup, the most of any goalkeeper.
(Goalkeepers are Different)
To say that the South Korean team didn’t have a good time in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland would be an understatement. They played their first match just 10 hours after a 46-hour plane journey to Switzerland, and their first opponents were the Hungarians, one of the best international teams at the time.
South Korea lost 9-0, with only seven players left on the field due to exhaustion. Back then, player substitution wasn’t a thing. Hungary finished the tournament as runners-up after losing the final match against West Germany.
South Korea faced Turkey in the next match and lost 7-0, which sealed their tournament fate, and goalkeeper Hong Deok-young entered World Cup history as a goalkeeper who conceded the most goals in one tournament.
On the other end, we have Pascal Zuberbühler (Switzerland). In the 2006 World Cup, he didn’t concede a single goal during the regular time or extra time. Ultimately, his side lost against Ukraine after missing all three shots in the penalty shoot-out and was eliminated from the tournament.
World Cup Match Stats
The World Cup tournament has seen some incredible matches over the years, with some inspiring performances and moments. Here are some of the most memorable match stats from the FIFA World Cup.
1. The highest-scoring match in World Cup history was Austria vs. Switzerland, which ended 7-5.
The highest-scoring match in World Cup history happened during the 1954 tournament when Austria beat Switzerland 7–5. Not only was it the highest-scoring match, but it was also the only match where players from both teams managed to score a hat-trick.
2. The highest-scoring finals match in the World Cup was Brazil vs. Sweden (5-2).
The 1958 World Cup tournament in Sweden brought another highest-scoring record, but this time for the most goals scored in the finals. Brazil and Sweden squared off in the final match, and after seven goals in total, Brazil won 5-2.
This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory and the only instance in which the host nation lost a match in the World Cup finals.
3. Hungary scored the most goals in a single World Cup match.
When it comes to most goals scored in a match by one team, that privilege goes to Hungary. In a 1982 World Cup match, it managed to win against El Salvador by an impressive ten goals to one.
4. The 1950 match between Brazil and Uruguay attracted the largest crowd in the history of the World Cup.
(Guinness World Records)
The 1950 World Cup saw Brazil and Uruguay play in front of 173,850 spectators, making it the most-attended game in World Cup history. Uruguay was considered an underdog, but they managed to come out on top and score two goals, while Brazil only managed to score one.
The loss shocked the nation to its core, and the phrase “Phantom of ‘50” keeps resurfacing every time Brazil and Uruguay play. The same World Cup was the first one to draw one million spectators.
5. Cameroon is the first African team to reach the quarter-finals in the World Cup.
In 1990, Cameroon became the first African team to reach the quarter-finals, eliminating Colombia in the process. In the next game, they lost against England 2-3, mainly due to the two penalties they conceded.
6. The quickest goal in World Cup history was scored 11 seconds into the game.
Hakan Sukur (Turkey) set the soccer World Cup record by scoring a goal in the first 11 seconds of the game against South Korea in 2002.
7. The longest penalty World Cup penalty shoot-outs lasted 12 shots.
The 1982 World Cup tournament saw one of the two longest penalty shoot-outs between West Germany and France. Going head to head in the semi-finals game, the two teams took 12 penalties in total when Horst Hrubesch (West Germany) scored the winning goal. In the finals, West Germany lost against Italy (3-1), and France lost the battle for third place against Poland (3-2).
The 1994 World Cup quarterfinal between Sweden and Romania in the USA was the only other game with 12 penalties. Sweden won 5-4 and went on to finish third in the World Cup.
8. The 2002 World Cup was the first to be held by two different nations.
The 2002 World Cup was the first tournament held in two countries – Japan and South Korea. This tournament also marked the introduction of goal-line technology for the very first time.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to be held across three nations covering most of the North American Continent (USA, Canada, and Mexico), and it’ll be the first to include 48 teams.
Interesting Qatar 2022 World Cup Stats
1. WC 2022 will be the first-ever World Cup in the Middle East and the second held in Asia.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the first ever to be hosted by a Middle Eastern country and the first tournament to take place during the winter. This year also marks the last time that the tournament will feature 32 teams.
2. Qatar is the smallest country ever to host a World Cup.
Its population of 3 million people makes it the least populated nation to do so as well. Qatar built seven stadiums and renovated one to accommodate both players and fans. There are eight stadiums with a total capacity of over 380,000 seats.
3. The 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, will be participating in the tournament for the first time.
Qatar’s national team is currently ranked 50th in the world, and it qualified for the 2022 World Cup by being the host nation.
The history of the World Cup is full of incredible stats, fun facts, and remarkable records. This article has barely scratched the surface of what this amazing sporting event has to offer! From Brazil’s 1950 loss to Uruguay to the major upsets already happening at the 2022 tournament, there were countless historic moments and memories soccer fans will treasure for a long time.
While this is the most prestigious soccer event, it isn’t the only event being followed by soccer fans. We do have to keep ourselves entertained during those four years of waiting and watching qualifying rounds, after all. Therefore, there are more soccer stats to learn about if you want to keep your soccer pub quiz title.
Who is the best team in the World Cup?
It’s hard to say who is the best team without being a bit subjective, so here is our top five list of best teams participating in the 2022 World Cup.
Who is the best player in the world of all time?
Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Pelé is a former Brazilian professional footballer who played as an attacker. He is the all-time top scorer for Brazil and has three World Cup championships to his name. Pele’s career spanned 22 years, during which he scored 1,281 goals in 1,362 games.
Who is predicted to win the World Cup in 2022?
According to the World Cup stats thus far and looking at the names, Brazil and France are the top favorites, but they’ll have to prove it on the pitch, too.