Wednesday, May 31, 2006

World Cup History Says the Winner Will Come From An Extremely Select Group

The World Cup Finals have been contested 17 times - every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 & 1946 which were cancelled on account of WWII.

There are currently 205 fully accredited soccer playing nations in the world, 32 of which have survived qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals.

Of those 205 nations, only 35% have ever appeared in the World Cup Finals- 72 by my count.

Of these 72, amazingly only 11 have ever made it to the final match, and astonishingly only SEVEN countries have ever won the tournament:

Brasil. 5 time champions. 2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, 1958
Germany. 3 time champions. 1990, 1974, 1954
Italy. 3 time champions. 1982, 1938, 1934
Argentina. 2 time champions. 1986, 1978
Uruguay. 2 time champions. 1950, 1930
France. Champions, 1998
England. Champions, 1966

In addition to these seven, only Holland (twice), Czechoslovakia (twice), Sweden (once) and Hungary (once) have even made it to the final match.

I am not saying that this year's winner will definitely come from this group, only that it is remarkable that the concentration of power, if you will, involves such a select few. The World Cup makes the often talked about competitive imbalance of Major League Baseball look like the often talked about parody of the NFL.

Another little tidbit to notice as you watch this year is that the teams who have won the World Cup have a gold star on their jerseys just above the badge for each cup they have won. For example, Brasil have 5 stars, Argentina 2, England 1.

Anyhow, here is the full list of World Cup winners, finalists and host nations (click on the year for summaries, results, videos, etc):

2002. Brasil 2-0 Germany. Korea/Japan.
1998. France 3-0 Brasil. France.
1994. Brasil 0-0 Italy (3-2 penalties). United States.
1990. West Germany 1-0 Argentina. Italy.
1986. Argentina 3-2 West Germany. Mexico.
1982. Italy 3-1 West Germany. Spain.
1978. Argentina 3-1 Holland. Argentina.
1974. West Germany 2-1 Holland. West Germany.
1970. Brasil 4-1 Italy. Mexico
1966. England 4-2 West Germany. England.
1962. Brasil 3-1 Czechoslovakia. Chile.
1958. Brasil 5-2 Sweden. Sweden.
1954. West Germany 3-2 Hungary. Switzerland.
1950. Uruguay 2-1 Brasil. Brasil.
1938. Italy 4-2 Hungary. France.
1934. Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia. Italy.
1930. Uruguay 4-2 Argentina. Uruguay.

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