Oct 21, 2022
Oct 21, 2022

The History of the World Cup

When did the World Cup start?

Who has won the most World Cups?

Which World Cup had the most goals?

Who are the World Cup top scorers?

The History of the World Cup

The 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup will be hosted by Qatar and will begin on November 20 2022. Although bettors will be analysing the odds to try and find value in this year’s tournament, there’s several interesting stats and facts from throughout World Cup history.

World Cup – the story so far

The very first World Cup took place in 1930. The tournament took place in Uruguay and the hosts were the victors after defeating Argentina 4-2.

32 nations will compete at World Cup 2022

Only 18 matches were played but the event drew average crowds of around 32,000 per match. Before the World Cup, the Olympics were viewed as offering the only real major international soccer tournament.

The birth of the World Cup is credited to the FIFA President at the time, Jules Rimet, and the Secretary of the French Football Federation, Henri Delaunay. The official decision to stage a “world championship” was made on May 28, 1928, at the FIFA Congress in Amsterdam.

Ever since the inaugural tournament in 1930, the World Cup has been held every four years – except for interruptions during the Second World War.

In 1982, the World Cup was extended from 16 nations to 24 nations, before growing even further to 32 nations in 1998. The 2026 World Cup will be extended to feature 48 nations. Until 2022, 17 countries have hosted the World Cup and more than 70 nations have participated.

Who has won the most World Cups?

Hosting the World Cup has obvious advantages and home nations have historically over-performed at the World Cup. The host country won the first two tournaments (Uruguay in 1930 and Italy in 1934) and the home nation has won the World Cup on six occasions in total.

Nations that are not typically considered to be the greatest of teams have performed better when hosting the World Cup. For example, South Korea reached the semi-finals at home in 2002.

Brazil has been the most prolific soccer-playing nation with a record five World Cup wins. Germany comes in second with four wins – with three of those titles won as West Germany.

Below is a table showing which country has won the most World Cups: 

Who has won the most World Cups?


Number of World Cup wins

Winning years



1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002



1954, 1974, 1990, 2014



1934, 1938, 1982, 2006



1978, 1986



1930, 1950



1998, 2018







*Includes representation as West Germany from 1954-1990.

Which World Cup has had the most goals?

Two of the more recent World Cup tournaments (1998 and 2014) hold the record for the most goals with 171 and the two oldest (1930 and 1934) have the record for the fewest with 70.

The last World Cup in 2018 got close to the top goal record with 169 goals scored with an average of 2.64 goals per game.

However, when accounting for format changes and the number of games played (there were only 18 matches in the 1930 tournament compared to 64 from 1998 onwards), the 1954 World Cup had the most goals per game (5.38 per game) and 1990 the fewest (2.21 per game).

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Who are the World Cup top scorers?

The Germans have played the most games in tournament history (109). That helps explain why Germany have also scored so many World Cup goals with 226.

Thomas Müller is the leading active goal scorer

The highest goal-scoring nation is Brazil, who have put 229 goals into the back of the net. Unsurprisingly, the all-time leading goalscorer in the World Cup is Miroslav Klose of Germany with 16 goals from four appearances.

Just Fontaine from France scored the most goals in a single tournament with 13 in 1958. However, since then, a Golden Boot winner has only hit double digits once since – that being Gerhard "Gerd" Müller who scored 10 goals at Mexico in 1950.

Many of the highest goalscorers in history are no longer playing, so who are today’s top goalscorers? Germany stands tall once again as star striker Thomas Müller leads the tally of currently active players with 10 goals scored.

The next best goalscorers who are still active players, and who will probably be playing at this year’s World Cup, are Cristiano Ronaldo (seven goals) of Portugal and Luis Suárez (seven goals) of Uruguay. England’s Harry Kane is currently on track to become his country’s highest international goalscorer and has scored six World Cup goals so far in his career.

Youth or experience?

The youngest team (by the average age of the squad) to win the World Cup was Brazil in 1970 (24.36 years) and the oldest World Cup-winning squad was Italy in 2006 (28.22 years). Portugal had the highest average age during the World Cup qualifiers this year at 28 years of age. The USA will be the youngest ever, if they happen to win the title, with an average age of 23.7 years.

Pelé’s goal against Wales in 1958 makes him the youngest goalscorer in tournament history at 17 years and 249 days. Cameroon’s Roger Milla is the oldest at 42 years, 1 month and 8 days (vs. Russia in 1994).

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