Here’s a look at the World Cup football (soccer) tournaments. The World Cup is organized by FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association. Men’s and women’s tournaments are held every four years.
November 20-December 18, 2022 - The Men’s World Cup is set to take place in Qatar.
July 10-August 20, 2023 - The Women’s World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand.
June 7-July 7, 2019 - The Women’s World Cup takes place in France. USA defeats the Netherlands 2-0 to become the only country to win four Women’s World Cup championships.
June 14-July 15, 2018 - The Men’s World Cup takes place in Russia. France defeats Croatia 4-2 in the championship game to win its second World Cup.
The Golden Ball award is presented to the most outstanding player at each World Cup finals, as decided by the FIFA Technical Study.
Men’s 2018 Winner: Luka Modric (Croatia)
Women’s 2019 Winner: Megan Rapinoe (USA)
The Golden Boot award is presented to the top goal scorer at every World Cup final.
Men’s 2018 Winner: Harry Kane (England)
Women’s 2019 Winner: Megan Rapinoe (USA)
The Golden Glove award is presented to the tournament’s most outstanding goalkeeper.
Men’s 2018 Winner: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Women’s 2019 Winner: Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands)
The Young Player award is presented to the player aged 21 or younger recognized as making the biggest impact at the World Cup.
Men’s 2018 Winner: Kylian Mbappe (France)
Women’s 2019 Winner: Giulia Gwinn (Germany)
Teams with the most World Cup titles:
Men’s: Brazil has won five times - 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002
Women’s: USA has won four times - 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019
Football kits (uniforms) are often designed using the country’s national colors. While some countries use the colors from their flags, others use colors that have historical, political or geographical meaning.
Thirty-two teams currently participate in the World Cup. In 2026, 48 teams will participate.
A phase called the “Preliminary Competition” takes place in the three years preceding each World Cup, where national teams must compete in qualifying matches to be eligible for one of the 31 available slots. The host nation automatically qualifies to enter.
In the group stage, the teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams each at the beginning of the tournament. After playing in round-robin matches, the top two teams in each group advance to the second round group of 16 teams, which play in successive knock-out rounds to reach the final tournament.
Twenty-four teams currently participate in the Women’s World Cup. The number will rise to 32 teams in 2023.
In the preliminary round, national teams compete in qualifying matches to be eligible for one of the 23 available slots. The host nation automatically qualifies to enter.
In the group stage, the teams are drawn into six groups of four teams each at the beginning of the tournament. After playing in round-robin matches, the top two teams in each group plus the four best third-place teams advance to the second round group of 16 teams, which play in successive knock-out rounds to reach the final tournament.
The 2015 World Cup final match was the most-watched soccer event in US television history (men’s or women’s) with approximately 26.7 million viewers.
July 13-30, 1930 - Uruguay hosts the first World Cup (men’s). Thirteen teams compete, and Uruguay wins the tournament, defeating Argentina. Team USA places third.
1942 and 1946 - The men’s tournament is not held because of World War II. Play resumes in 1950.
November 16-30, 1991 - China hosts the first Women’s World Cup, initially known as the FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&M’s Cup. Team USA defeats Norway in the final match.
May 26, 2003 - Due to an outbreak of SARS, FIFA announces it will move the women’s tournament from China to the United States.
December 2, 2010 - The winning bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals (men’s) are announced. Russia is named host of the 2018 tournament, and Qatar is selected for 2022, winning out over the United States, Japan and Australia.
2013 - As Brazil preps for the 2014 World Cup, at least five workers are killed in construction accidents in 2013. Thousands of protesters clash with police during the early summer, and the unrest continues throughout the year leading up to the tournament.
June 13, 2018 - The joint bid between Canada, Mexico and the United States wins the right to host the 2026 World Cup. It will be the first time the World Cup will be shared by three host nations.
March 14, 2019 - The results of a feasibility study show the potential for expanding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to increase the current format from a 32 to a 48-team format. World football’s governing body has already agreed that the 2026 tournament, which will be jointly held by the US, Canada and Mexico, will feature 48 teams. The final decision will be made in June.
April 9, 2020 - FIFA announces that the men’s FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking is static as 2022 qualifiers are postponed while the Covid-19 pandemic is battled gobally.
June 25, 2020 - FIFA announces that Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the first to be held in the southern hemisphere.
June 16, 2022 - FIFA announces the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. Matches will be held in 11 US cities as well as three host sites in Mexico and two in Canada: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Guadalajara, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Monterrey, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver. It is the first time matches will be played in three countries.
August 11, 2022 - The 2022 tournament will begin on November 20, a day earlier than previously scheduled, following a unanimous decision by the FIFA Council. This will allow Qatar, the host nation, to play the first game when it faces Ecuador.