5 Interesting Facts About the FIFA World Cup

By Nathasha Wickramasinghe | 17, Nov, 2022
5 Interesting Facts About the FIFA World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is to begin on the 20th of November in and will last till 18 December 2022, to keep you pumped up, here are some interesting facts about the World Cup to get the football spirit going!

Writers Note: Please approach the contents in this article in a neutral manner as this does not reflect the general public opinion, nor was it written to lead speculations and opinions or to corner a certain party. 

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1. Did you know that host teams automatically qualify for the World Cup?
the 2022 world cup trophy

Image Credit: Rhett Lewis on Unsplash

The 2002 World Cup had two nations co-hosting the games – Japan and South Korea. Even though both nations had not won in previous World Cups, the hosting teams as well as the then defending champions – France – automatically qualified without having to play in any qualification matches. This was the final World Cup in which the defending champions automatically qualified.

The South Korean team made headlines with their surprise wins, they were placed fourth in the tournament and garnered much respect and widespread euphoria from the Korean public. They won against Poland, the United States of America, Portugal, and Spain, and they were the first Asian team to reach fourth place in the World Cup.

However, their wins were not very well accepted by some of the European football fans as the teams they were rooting for did not win. Many people assumed that the matches were unfairly refereed and that some form of corruption was happening within the FIFA organization for South Korea to be placed fourth instead of other worthy competitors, while some believe their position in the semi-finals is justified and well earned. It is definitely a subjective opinion among football fans and from several parties, and therefore, nobody should take it with a grain of salt and stay neutral regarding the matter.

Similar to how the rules in the previous years, the 2022 edition of the World Cup automatically qualified Qatar to compete within the brackets of the World Cup. To know more about the competing nations, read more here!


2. The 2014 World Cup was held during Ramadan
world cup during ramadan fasting

Image Credit: Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

The 2014 World Cup stirred much controversy due to the knockout stages starting during the Ramadan season. The main debate is whether fasting affected the performance of players. Research conducted by various parties said that fasting did not have a major effect on a player’s performance on the field, it's more on how each player manages their diet, intake, and health. In addition to the 2014 series, one of the group stages match in the 2018 World Cup was also held during the month of Ramadan.

This caused an uproar and questions among fans as they questioned the ability of the players to play well during fasting. However, these doubts were shut down as health experts provided evidence that if physical training, food, fluid intake, and sleep were well controlled, with individual monitoring, the players would not suffer from fatigue or other injuries and illnesses.

A 2013 NCBI report suggested an increased fat intake before Ramadan and during the predawn meal as fat slows down gastric emptying. Other research encouraged players to eat a meal just before dawn, to maintain appropriate energy levels throughout the day.

Some players like Mesut Özil from Germany, who is of Turkish descent, had not taken part in fasting due to “work”. However, according to FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, players willing to fast during Ramadhan have the option of asking religious authorities for an exemption and making up for the missed days at a later time.

Read more about How Muslim Footballers Fast While On The Field


3. The World Cup is no stranger to threats

Due to the World Cup being an event televised worldwide, with thousands of fans attending the tournaments, the event is prone to multiple threats that are both harmless and harmful. One of the biggest threats throughout the years is from terrorist organizations and hackers. Big organizations such as Al-Qaeda and certain Anonymous hackers had their fair share of threatening the FIFA World Cup due to varying reasons.

The 2010 World Cup held in South Africa was under surveillance by intelligence agencies due to alleged threats by a Somalian terrorist group known as al-Shahaab, which had possible links to al-Qaeda. However, the director of sub-Saharan Africa for the United States intelligence company Strategic Forecasting stated that tourists were more prone to crime than terrorist attacks.

In 2014 an Anonymous collective of hackers threatened to launch cyberattacks to disrupt the World Cup hosted by Brazil. They were successful in hacking many websites across the country, they intended to attack major sponsors of the World Cup as they were not happy with the large sums of money spent on the football tournament.

ISIS was also no stranger to the theme, as they previously released a terrifying poster depicting star player Lionel Messi standing behind bars crying tears of blood, threatening to attack the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. The two other posters depict ISIS soldiers along with weapons and threatening messages. 

These threats especially the cyber ones would remain as not everyone had the same idea of the ideal plans and view regarding the world cup, even for the 2022 World Cup. However, the fact that everyone stayed safe and most of these threats were able to be subdued, concludes that with the right risk mitigation plan, everything can be solved. It could even be a step towards a safer World Cup. Therefore, taking extra measures and staying careful would still be your best bet, but don’t let it stop you to join the festivities!


4. More than just a game
football supporters

Image Credit: Stefan Lehner on Unsplash

Football is one of the most competitive sports, for fans, teams, and players. For some football is a matter of life and death, as fans of the game get very passionate and intense about the teams they support, the way of expressing their passion sometimes is not the best way during the process. The involvement of violence to intimidate supporters of a rival team or to threaten players is one of the most common ways and is definitely a culture that should not be preserved. This is referred to as football hooliganism, and causes major disruptions during games, even before or after a match.

One of the most famous and worst acts of hooliganism took place during the 1994 World Cup, where the Colombian team lost 2-1 to the American hosts as Colombian player, Andres Escobar, scored a point in their own goal causing the team to be eliminated. The player was allegedly shot and killed in his home, many speculate that it was punishment for his own goal; however, it may be linked to gambling losses by drug lords.

During the 2006 World Cup, more than 200 England Fans were taken into custody due to clashes with German fans, it was said that some German fans were arrested as well. During the Germany Vs Sweden match, where 40,000 people were gathered at Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz for the game, five German fans were injured due to a fight that broke out between them and England fans. The fans had thrown plastic bottles, chairs, and tables at each other which resulted in injuries.

On a brighter note, football and the world cup has its own beautiful way of bringing people from different countries and backgrounds together. Even if you're an avid football fan, it's hard to not be part of the celebrations and excitement during the World Cup season! Let's learn from these experiences and celebrate the passion and love for the beautiful game together.

Read more about "How To Be A Football Fan In Just 5 Mins" to join in the excitement of this World Cup


5. The World Cup is no stranger to controversies
flags of nations world cup

Image Credit: Farzad Mohsenvand on Unsplash

The world of sports where everything is highly competitive - with the world cup being one of them - is prone to be involved in some sort of controversies and scandals. Embezzlements, bribes, and other alleged corrupt acts have taken the football world by storm, especially with the widespread coverage by the media.

One of the World Cup’s most controversial matches took place in 1989 at the Macarana stadium. The qualifier match for the 1990 World Cup between Brazil and Chile was abruptly stopped when Chile goalkeeper, Roberto Rojas was allegedly hit with a firework. If the match had continued Brazil would’ve won the match and qualified for the World Cup, however, the Chilean team left the grounds which ended the game, and thus the match had no victor. Due to a photographer capturing the moment within 4-5 shots, the whole hoax was revealed. Rojas had cut his head using a blade hidden in his gloves; in an attempt to cause disruption and ensure Brazil’s elimination from the World Cup.

There are also controversies surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as the view that the final vote should not have gone to Qatar. These allegations started as Qatar has actually never been qualified for the world cup before, and therefore many believe that millions of dollars were spent to secure the position. Contracts to televise matches, bribes given to FIFA officials to determine World Cup hosts, and death threats for cooperating with investigators are some of the allegations against the alleged corrupt officials. Various experts and officials have also come forward and spoken up regarding the matter and prompted several justice departments to also take action. Therefore, the matter should be taken in a neutral view as there’s a selection process and system that the majority of the competing nations and stakeholders had agreed upon, implying a fair and square decision.


Hyped for the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

Need more information and news regarding the FIFA World Cup 2022? Here are some articles that you could read to know more about the 2022 World Cup in Qatar:

Planning to also visit Qatar for the World Cup? Make sure to also visit these articles for the things that you need to do during your trip:

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