Since its first-ever edition in 1930, a total of 21 FIFA World Cup football finals have been held. Of these 21 finals, Brazil have won the most titles with five and are, in fact, the only team to play in each edition of the tournament.

Germany and Italy, with four titles each, follow Brazil in the FIFA World Cup winners list. Argentina, France and Uruguay (two), and England and Spain (one) are the other teams who have won international football’s biggest prize.

Over the years, as many as 17 nations have hosted the grand footballing festival. Qatar is set to host the upcoming edition while the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Interestingly, a whopping 79 nations have appeared in the FIFA World Cup at least once. Of those, 13 have made it to the final and the aforementioned eight teams have won it. 

Furthermore, only the South Americans as well as the European nations have competed in a World Cup final and only six countries -  Uruguay, Italy, England, Germany, Argentina, and France - have won it as the host nation.

France are the reigning FIFA World Cup champions, having won the 2018 edition held in Russia.

FIFA World Cup - a brief history

1930 - the beginning

The 1930 FIFA World Cup was the only edition that didn’t require any qualification rounds. Thanks to a long and costly trip, most European teams decided not to participate and hence, the tournament was only played between 13 nations; seven of which were South Americans.

Host nation Uruguay took on Argentina in the final and won the match 4-2.

1942 - World War II halts FIFA World Cup

Following the grand success of the 1938 FIFA World Cup, the next edition, in 1942, saw Germany and Brazil both applying to be the host nation. The extreme hostilities in Europe between 1939 to 1945, however, forced the organizers to postpone the tournament until 1950.

1950s - the return

After World War 2 ended, FIFA, the world governing body for football, resumed the World Cup in 1950 with Brazil hosting the fourth edition. The next edition, in 1954, was held in Switzerland and was the first one to be televised.

1982 - the expansion

The 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain was expanded to 24 teams. This was the first time since 1934 that the tournament had more than 16 teams in one edition. The teams were divided into six groups of four with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the next round.

Since the 1982 edition, FIFA has made several changes to the world cup’s usual format. In 1998, the number of participants went up to 32 from 24 and it has been the same since. The number is set to increase to 48 starting from the 2026 edition.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, FIFA has introduced several necessary regulations like goal-line technology and VAR (video assistant referee) among others. VAR was introduced in World Cups starting from Russia 2018.

2022 - the first of its kind

The 2022 edition, to be played in Qatar, will be the first time that the global competition will not be held in the summer. The tournament will run from November 21, 2022 to December 18, 2022.

FIFA World Cup winners list

Year Winners Score Runners-up
1930 Uruguay 4-2 Argentina
1934 Italy 2-1 (extra time) Czechoslovakia
1938 Italy 4-2 Hungary
1950 Uruguay 2-1 Brazil
1954 West Germany 3-2 Hungary
1958 Brazil 5-2 Sweden
1962 Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia
1966 England 4-2 (extra time) West Germany
1970 Brazil 4-1 Italy
1974 West Germany 2-1 Netherlands
1978 Argentina 3-1 (extra time) Netherlands
1982 Italy 3-1 West Germany
1986 Argentina 3-2 West Germany
1990 West Germany 1-0 Argentina
1994 Brazil 0-0
3-2 (penalties)
1998 France 3-0 Brazil
2002 Brazil 2-0 Germany
2006 Italy 1-1
5-3 (penalties)
2010 Spain 1-0 (extra time) Netherlands
2014 Germany 1-0 (extra time) Argentina
2018 France 4-2 Croatia

Featured photo: AFP / Jewel Samad