The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet.
Nothing compares to it. Not the Stanley Cup. Not the Super Bowl. Not the World Series. Not the Olympics. Nothing.
But how did the World Cup come to be the biggest and greatest show on earth? Sportsnet offers this comprehensive history of the World Cup, looking at the birth of the competition and reviewing each and every tournament.
Soccer is the world game, the beautiful game, and the World Cup is its showcase event, surpassing even the Olympics in terms of popularity, size and spectacle. || FULL STORY
Uruguay welcomed and then conquered the world, using home-field advantage to defeat South American rivals Argentina in the final of the inaugural World Cup. || FULL STORY
Buoyed by the hometown crowds — and possibly the undue influence of dictator Benito Mussolini — Italy won the first of its four World Cups, defeating Czechoslovakia in the final in Rome. || FULL STORY
Vittorio Pozzo cemented his legend as one of the greatest national team managers by guiding the Azzurri to a win over Hungary in Paris as Italy became the first country to repeat as champions. || FULL STORY
The modern era of the World Cup was born in 1950 as Uruguay reclaimed soccer’s greatest prize for the first time in 20 years after beating Brazil in Rio. || FULL STORY
In a World Cup that many thought would serve as the coronation of a Hungary side that won the Olympics and swept aside all before them in the buildup to the tournament, West Germany stunned the field to come out on top in Switzerland. || FULL STORY
A 17-year-old Pele announced his presence to the world by guiding Brazil to victory over Sweden in the final in Stockholm. || FULL STORY
With Pele injured for most of the tournament, Brazil flew on the wings of Garrincha to victory in Chile, defeating Czechoslovakia in the final to repeat as World Cup champions. || FULL STORY
England vanquished the Germans at Wembley to win their only World Cup to date, but not without a bit of controversy. Oh, and Eusebio ran riot for Portugal, scoring a lot of goals. || FULL STORY
Pele went back on his word never to play in the World Cup again, guiding Brazil to a 4-1 win over Italy in the final in Mexico City as the South American nation became the first nation to win the tournament three times. || FULL STORY
Twenty years after the “Miracle of Bern,” the Germans were again champions of the world, defeating the Netherlands on home soil in a battle of “Total Football” devotees. || FULL STORY
Almost 50 years after crossing the River Plate by boat and losing in Uruguay in the inaugural World Cup final, Argentina beat the Netherlands in Buenos Aires and was crowned World champions on home soil. || FULL STORY
A World Cup of startling upsets, improbable finishes and unmatched drama — with a fair bit of controversy thrown in for good measure — ended with Italy claiming its third title after beating West Germany in Madrid. || FULL STORY
Mexico replaces Colombia as host in 1986, Diego Maradona puts on a show, England cries foul over “The Hand of God,” Canada competes at its first World Cup, and Argentina beats West Germany in the final. || FULL STORY
West Germany joined Brazil and Italy as three-time winners after beating Argentina in Rome in the worst World Cup final in history. || FULL STORY
The World Cup came to America as record crowds watched the tournament unfold, including Brazil’s penalty shootout win over Italy in the final to become the first four-time winner. || FULL STORY
Buoyed by Zinedine Zidane and a Golden Generation of players, France finally fulfilled their World Cup dreams by beating Brazil in the final. || FULL STORY
The World Cup went to Asia for the first time, and while South Korea captured the hearts of the locals and neutrals, Brazil ended up winning its fifth title. || FULL STORY
Italy quietly went about its business through the opening rounds before beating hosts Germany in the semifinals and France in the final via penalty shootout. || FULL STORY
A World Cup of firsts: South Africa became the first African nation to host the tournament, and Spain became the first new nation to win the competition since France in 1998. || FULL STORY
Germany struck a blow for UEFA, as it became the first European nation to win a World Cup on South American soil. Oh, and there was also a small matter of their 7-1 win over hosts Brazil in the semis. || FULL STORY