In the world of soccer, there is no bigger name than FIFA. The international governing body of the entire sport, FIFA isn’t just the company that releases annual games for X-box and PlayStation, it also has an almost 90-year history of presenting the biggest spectacle in soccer: the quadrennial FIFA World Cup. The tournament brings together the 32 teams who qualify in an organized brawl for glory, pitting nations against each other in 90-minute battles for supremacy. This legendary event is set to return on June 14, 2018 in Russia for the 21st incarnation of the tournament. But with some returning victors coming back to pad out their legacy and a few new faces here to prove themselves worthy of playing with champions, it’s time to take a look back and review all the previous winners leading up to this year’s games.
1930 Winner: Uruguay
In the very first FIFA World Cup, held in Uruguay in 1930, the local heroes won a decisive victory over Argentina with a final score of 4-2. This was the first of two championship wins for the team colloquially known as La Celeste. It is also the smallest country in FIFA history to win the World Cup, both in terms of size and population, making it the perpetual and beloved underdog of the tournament.
1934 Winner: Italy
Set against the backdrop of historic Rome, the Italian team called Gli Azzurri slew Czechoslovakia to win 2-1 in the 1934 FIFA World Cup finals. It was the start of a 16-years championship defense for Italy, a FIFA record that continues to this day. After the initial 90 minutes of play, the score was tied at 1-1, making this the first FIFA final to go into extra time.
1938 Winner: Italy
Italy continued its winning streak in 1928 with a conclusive 4-2 win against Hungary. The games had been held in Paris, France that year, making it the first time the championship was won by a foreign team. Though at the time it appeared that Italy was an unstoppable soccer force, it would be over 40 years before they recaptured the title, with a finals loss to Brazil along the way.
1950 Winner: Uruguay
After putting the games on hold for 12 years during World War II, Uruguay won 2-1 against Brazil to capture the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Interestingly, the tournament was held in a round-robin format as opposed to the more traditional knockout style. This meant that the odds were overwhelmingly in Brazil’s favor going into the match as all they needed was to draw the match to win the championship. In the 2018 Cup, Uruguay is placed in Group A, set to face Egypt in the first round.
1954 Winner: West Germany
In Switzerland in 1954, West Germany’s Mannschaft beat Hungary 3-2 for that year’s FIFA World Cup. It was the first major sports victory for Germany following World War II, having been excluded from international competition until 1950. Though West Germany would eventually be folded into the German republic, it is considered the same franchise as the German team that plays for FIFA today, making this the first of their four championship wins.
1958 Winner: Brazil
Brazil is one of the biggest threats in any FIFA tournament. With five wins, they hold the record for most championships, beginning with their explosive 5-2 win against Sweden in the 1958 World Cup held in their opponent’s homeland. The game itself is historic not only for being Brazil’s first championship win, but also for most goals scored in a World Cup final and greatest winning margin in FIFA World Cup history. It was also the game that made star player Pele a household name.
1962 Winner: Brazil
Brazil had always been considered a formidable opponent on the soccer field, but the team secured its legacy in 1962 after beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the finals of the 1962 World Cup held in Chile. It was the second and last time in the tournament’s history when the defending champions would successfully defend their title. The victory was considered vengeance for Pele, who had injured himself in a game against Czechoslovakia earlier in the Cup and wasn’t able to play in the finals.
1966 Winner: England
The first and only FIFA championship for England came in 1966 against former champions West Germany on their home turf with a final score of 4-2 decided in over time. The game caused a stir of controversy and the argument as to whether or not England’s third goal, the famed “Wembley Goal,” should have counted. England is in Group G for the 2018 games and will play their first game of the tournament against Tunisia on June 18th.
1970 Winner: Brazil
After not even reaching the finals in the previous World Cup, Brazil was eager to reclaim its lost title in a punishing 4-1 victory over Italy in the 1970 FIFA games held in Mexico. It was the first time that former champions had met in the finals. The game was also Pele’s last championship win before retiring, making him the first and only three-time championship winner in FIFA history.
1974 Winner: West Germany
The 1974 FIFA World Cup finals ended with a 2-1 victory for West Germany against the Dutch Oranje. West Germany had home field advantage but both teams played with a solid defensive line up. The winning goal came in the first half of the game and the score remained unchanged throughout the second half. This was also the first World Cup final in which penalties were awarded, though it certainly would not be the last.
1978 Winner: Argentina
Having not reached the FIFA finals since 1930, Argentina’s Albicelestes were overjoyed with their 1978 World Cup home turf win against the Netherlands with a 3-1 score after overtime. It was the second year in a row that the Netherlands had lost to the host nation and while they wouldn’t reach the tournament finals again until 2010, it was only a few years later when Argentina would return to the last round of the Cup.
1982 Winner: Italy
With their 3-1 win over West Germany in the 1982 FIFA World Cup held in Spain, Italy became tied with Brazil for most championships, though that tie would later be broken. Italy took an early 3-0 lead and openly taunted West Germany to catch up with them. Though the game was something of a blowout, it was significant for featuring 40-year old Dino Zoff as the Italian Captain and goalkeeper. He is the oldest player to win the FIFA World Cup.
1986 Winner: Argentina
Argentina retook its championship with a narrow 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 FIFA World Cup held in Mexico Iceland.against
1990 Winner: West Germany
In a climactic rematch, West Germany beat Argentina 1-0 at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. The game was famous for being the first and only time that the two teams from the previous finals were set to face each other for the championship, for being the first FIFA World Cup final in which one of the teams failed to make a single goal and for being the first final in which a red card was flashed.
1994 Winner: Brazil
In the tightest FIFA World Cup final in history, Brazil beat Italy in a scoreless game with a penalty shootout after extra time failed to determine a winner. Held for the first time in the United States, the game was hailed as a credit to both teams as they featured excellent offensive and defensive plays. Even the penalty shootouts were exceedingly close, a victor only being named after Roberto Baggio famously whiffed a kick over the bar.
1998 Winner: France
In a surprise twist, France won it’s only FIFA World Cup championship with a solid 3-0 win over the Brazilian defending champions. Brazil had been dominant throughout the tournament and had been the favorite going into the finals, but star player Ronaldo de Lima was injured early in the game and the team never fully recovered, giving France the opening it needed. France is featured in Group C for the 2018 World Cup and is scheduled to play Australia in the opening round.
2002 Winner: Brazil
The most recent championship win for the most successful soccer club in FIFA history, Brazil won 2-0 against the reorganized German team in the 2002 World Cup held in Japan. Humiliated and motivated by the previous year’s devastating loss to France, Brazil played aggressively and though they missed several shots, made the only two goals that mattered in the game. In 2018 they are set in Group E with plans to face Switzerland on June 17th.
2006 Winner: Italy
In their last FIFA World Cup championship game, Italy walked away with the win after a 1-1 game against France went to penalty shootouts. It was the first FIFA final since 1978 not to feature either Germany or Brazil and the two European teams took advantage of their position to show off their matched skills, leading to a tense shootout which saw Italy take the win. Italy didn’t qualify for the FIFA 2018 World Cup, the first time it has failed to do so since 1958.
2010 Winner: Spain
The first time Spain reached the FIFA World Cup finals was also the year it got it’s first win, with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in South Africa. The close game is known as “the Battle of Johannesburg” due to the intense back-and-forth the occurred during the game. With neither team willing to give an inch, the game went into extra time with a 0-0 score with Spain getting the game winning goal with only four minutes left on the clock. In 2018, Spain is slotted in Group B and is to play their Portuguese neighbors first.
2014 Winner: Germany
In the last FIFA World Cup final, Germany beat long-time rival Argentina in a harrowing 1-0 game in Brazil. Their first championship as a unified nation, Germany took the championship in extra time after a long, scoreless game. The match was marked with numerous injuries, leading to the game winning goal to be made by a substitute for the first time in the institution’s history. Germany is slated in Group F for the 2018 World Cup and will play Mexico on June 17th.