Soccer Becomes a Worldwide Sport
Within eight years, the Football Association had 50 member clubs and inter-school inter-club matches were being played before enthusiastic spectators. The first Football Association League Cup was awarded in 1872.

In that same year, the first international match was played between Scotland and England. Some 2000 spectators watched the match that ended in a 0-0 tie. The Scots used a passing attack that was new to the English players who were used to muscling the ball up the field in what resembled a scrum. By the 1880s, teams of professional soccer players were forming in parts of Europe.

English colonists took soccer to the corners of the globe. Soon teams throughout Europe, in Africa, South America and New Zealand were playing the game.

In 1904, football associations from seven countries met in Paris and founded the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The original members of FIFA were Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Germany joined the federation immediately. Surprisingly, England originally snubbed FIFA, feeling that soccer was an English game and should be governed by the English Football Association. England joined FIFA in 1906 and an Englishman, Daniel Burley Woolfall became FIFA President. Today, FIFA has 205 member associations.

Determining the Best in the World
Nearly as soon as it was formed, FIFA began discussing holding a world championship tournament. The first World Cup competition came about in 1930 in Uruguay. Uruguay had won the Olympic soccer gold medals in both 1924 and 1928. There were no qualifying tournaments for the first World Cup, but only 13 countries decided to send teams on the long trip to South America. Uruguay won the first World Cup with a 4-2 defeat of Argentina in the final round.

To date, 17 World Cup trophies have been awarded in men’s competition and four in women’s. See the chart listing the World Cup Champions.

FIFA Men’s World Cup Champions

1930Uruguay4-2 over Argentina
1934Italy2-1 over Csechoslovakia
1938Italy4-2 over Hungary
1950Uruguay2-1 over Brazil
1954Germany3-2 over Hungary
1958Brazil5-2 over Sweden
1962Brazil3-1 over Czechoslovakia
1966England4-2 over Germany
1970Brazil4-1 over Italy
1974Germany2-1 over the Netherlands
1978Argentina3-1 over the Netherlands
1982Italy3-1 over Germany
1986Argentina3-2 over Germany
1990Germany1-0 over Argentina
1994Brazil3-2 over Italy
1998France3-0 over Brazil
2002Brazil2-0 over Germany
2006Italy1-1 score (5-3 penalty shoot out) over France
2010Spain1-0 score over Netherlands
2014Germany1-0 score over Argentina

FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions

1991United States2-1 over Norway
1995Norway2-0 over Germany
1999United States5-4 over China
2003Germany2-1 over Sweden
2007Germany2-0 over Brazil
2011Japan2-2 score (3-1 penalty shoot out) over USA
2015United States5-2 Over Japan

A League of Their Own
Frescos from third century China show women playing a soccer-type game. By the 17th century, women were playing organized soccer matches. In the town of Inveresk Scotland, records show that the married women beat the unmarried women in a football game.

Development of the women’s game was hampered somewhat by their attire. Women were originally required to wear bloomers and to keep their hair under caps. Fortunately this changed during the World War I. During the War, women’s teams attracted large crowds as they played exhibition games, sometimes against men.

The first women’s international match was played in 1920. An English team composed primarily of members of the famous Dick Kerrs Ladies beat Scotland 22-0. In 1921, an English women’s soccer match attracted 53,000 spectators. Unfortunately, the Football Association decided that women’s soccer was “distasteful” and banned women’s games from association pitches. Women formed their own association and began playing on rugby fields. The Football Associations ban against women was not lifted until 1971.