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Often referred to simply as the World Cup, the FIFA World Cup is a football competition organized by an international federation that includes senior national teams from members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the global sports governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, who won his second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.
The current format of the competition provides for a qualification phase that is currently taking place in the last three years to determine which teams will qualify for the tournament phase, often referred to as the World Cup Final. Afterwards, 32 teams, including the automatically qualified host nation (s), will fight for the title in the tournament phase over a period of about one month at venues within the host nation (s).
The 21 World Cup tournaments were won by eight national teams. Brazil have won five times and are the only team that participated in each tournament. The other world champions are Germany and Italy with four titles each; Argentina, France and winner Uruguay with two titles each; and England and Spain each with a title.
The World Cup is the world's most prestigious football tournament, as well as the most watched and tracked sporting event in the world and even goes beyond the Olympics. The cumulative audience of all 2006 World Cup games was estimated at 26.29 billion, with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final, a ninth of the world's total population.
17 countries have hosted the World Cup. Brazil, France, Italy, Germany and Mexico hosted twice each, while Uruguay, Switzerland, Sweden, Chile, England, Argentina, Spain, the United States, Japan and South Korea (jointly), South Africa and Russia hosted each. Qatar is scheduled to host the finals in 2022, and by 2026, Canada, the United States and Mexico will jointly host what gives Mexico the distinction of being the first country hosting matches in three finals.
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The first international football game in the world was a challenge game that was played in Glasgow between Scotland and England in 1872 and ended with a 0-0 draw. The first international tournament, the first British home championship, took place in 1884. As football became more popular in other parts of the world at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was held as a demonstration sport in which no medals were awarded in 1900 and 2000 Olympic Summer Games 1904 (the International Olympic Committee retroactively increased its status to official events) ) and at the Intercalated Games 1906.
After the founding of FIFA in 1904, 1906 tried to host an international football tournament between nations outside the Olympic framework in Switzerland. These were very early days for international football, and the official history of FIFA describes the competition as a failure.At the 1908 Summer Olympics in London football became an official competition. Scheduled by The Football Association (FA), England's Football Association, the event was for amateur players only and was suspiciously viewed as a show rather than a competition. Great Britain (represented by the English amateur national football team) won the gold medal. They repeated the feat at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm.
Since the Olympic event was still held only between amateur teams, Sir Thomas Lipton organized in 1909 the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy tournament in Turin. The Lipton tournament was a championship between individual clubs (not national teams) from different nations, each representing one nation. The competition is sometimes referred to as "the first World Cup" and included the most prestigious professional clubs from Italy, Germany and Switzerland. The English association, however, refused to be associated with the competition and declined the offer to send a first team. Lipton invited West Auckland, an amateur team from County Durham, to represent England instead. West Auckland won the tournament and returned in 1911 to successfully defend his title.
In 1914, FIFA agreed to recognize the Olympic tournament as the "Football World Cup for Amateurs" and assumed leadership of the event. This paved the way for the world's first intercontinental football competition at the 1920 Summer Olympics, which was attended by Egypt and 13 European teams and won by Belgium. Uruguay won the next two Olympic football tournaments in 1924 and 1928. These were also the first two open world championships since the professional era of FIFA began in 1924.
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