Football is nowadays the most popular sport in the whole world and the World Cup is the pinnacle tournament of it, which is played every four years. But do you know how it all started and how World Cup actually came to be in the beginning? It is an interesting story which began nearly a century ago, when FIFA officially announced the first edition of World Cup on 26th of May 1928.
However, the history of international football dates back lot further than that of course. The first official international football match was played already in 1872. It was a match between Scotland and England and it took place in Glasgow – back then football had not gained big popularity yet, and it was rarely even played outside of Great Britain. That started happening a bit later when the twentieth century began, as the sport started to gain some real traction in other countries and the first national football associations were formed. Match between Uruguay and Argentina which took place in Montevideo in 1902 is considered to have been the first official international match that happened outside of Great Britain.
From there football continued gaining popularity all over the world and not long after on 22th of May 1904 the world finally saw the formation of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, which is today better known simply by its acronym FIFA. By then football was also already included in the Olympics, first time in the 1900 Summer Olympics, but it was for amateur players only.
Big changes started really happening couple decades later when it was decided that the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles would no longer include football, due to the sport not being popular in the United States. The International Olympic Committee and FIFA also had disagreements over the status of amateur players in the Olympic competition and that is when FIFA’s then president, Jules Rimet, decided that FIFA would organize their own World Cup tournament for football. This was announced officially on 26th of May 1928 and the actual tournament was to be played in 1930. Since Uruguay had won the last two Summer Olympic tournaments that were held in 1924 and 1928, it was also chosen as the host country for the first ever official FIFA World Cup.
And so the World Cup as we know it today was born! Total of 13 nations took part in the first ever tournament, seven of them from South America, four from Europe and two from North America. The tournament was held in the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, and Uruguay also won the whole tournament by beating Argentina in the final with the score of 4-2.
Since then the World Cup has been organized every four years with the exception of the years 1942 and 1946 when the tournament was cancelled due to the Second World War. The number of participating countries has been steadily rising over the years and the first year when we saw the current format with 32 participating teams was the 1998 World Cup held in France. And the tournament is still evolving and growing to this day, as we are expecting to see whopping 48 participating teams in the 2026 World Cup!