begun in 1930, has become the world's largest sporting event. It
has been staged every four years since then with the exception of 1942
and 1946, when the Second World War forced its suspension.
England did not
enter the first three competitions of 1930, 1934 and 1938.
Although FIFA assiduously sought England's participation, the Football
Association declined all invitations. Not until the
fourth tournament in 1950 did England take part.
have entered all 16 post-war competitions. They reached the
final tournament 13 times. They qualified through play in the
preliminary competition on 11 occasions (1950, 1954,
1958, 1962, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010), as host country once
(1966) and as reigning champions once (1970). They failed to
qualify for the final tournaments on three occasions (1974, 1978 and
have had only moderate success in the World Cup, and that is perhaps a
fair indication of their standing in the world game. They won
the tournament once, in 1966, when it was held on their own soil and
they played all their matches at their home ground, Wembley Stadium, an advantage extended to no other team in World Cup
history. Their 4-2 extra-time victory against West Germany in
the only final match they have reached has remained clouded by the controversy over
whether their third goal, the first of extra-time, actually crossed
the goal line, and, at least in the view prevailing in Latin nations,
by the furore surrounding the expulsion of Argentina captain Antonio
Rattin in the quarterfinal.
reached the semi-finals on only one other occasion, at the 1990
tournament in Italy, where, following extra-time victories over
Belgium and Cameroon, they went down to West Germany on penalty
kicks after a 1-1 extra-time draw. They then lost the
third-place match to the host nation, 2-1.
have reached the quarterfinals on six other occasions, at the 1954, 1962,
1970, 1986, 2002 and 2006 tournaments. At the 1982 competition in
Spain, where the final tournament was conducted through two group
stages with the teams topping the four second-round groups
proceeding directly to the semi-finals, England finished the second
group stage unbeaten but were eliminated anyway. Their second-place
finish in the second-round group was tantamount to a quarter-final
have been eliminated in the round of 16 teams stage on two occasions
since the final tournament was expanded to more than 16 teams in
1982--at the 1998 final tournament in France and the 2010 final
tournament in South Africa.
have been eliminated at the first round group stage on two occasions
1950 and 1958, when they finished level in group play with the
USSR but lost a playoff match.
World Cup has been a frustrating odyssey for England, particularly
since 1966. At several tournaments, their performances have
filled their fans with justified hope, but in the end, they have just
not had enough to overcome the world's most powerful teams in crucial
like to point out that it has been England's misfortune to meet the eventual World Cup winners
in the knockout stages of four tournaments. They went out to
Brazil, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the 1962 tournament, to
Argentina, 2-1 by way of Maradona's "Hand of God" goal, in
the quarterfinals of the 1986 tournament, to West Germany, on penalty
kicks after a 1-1 extra-time draw, in the semi-finals of the 1990
tournament and to Brazil again, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2002
tournament after holding the lead.
they have been eliminated in penalty-kick shootouts, in the 1990
semi-final against West Germany, the 1998 round-of-16-teams match
against Argentina following a 2-2 extra-time draw in which they played
a man short following the expulsion early in the second-half of
midfielder David Beckham. On a third occasion, in the 2006
quarter-finals, England were eliminated by Portugal following a 0-0
most disappointing was their elimination at the 1982 tournament in
Spain. Having won all three of their group matches quite
handily, all they could muster in their second-round group was a pair
of goalless draws against eventual finalist West Germany and hosts
Spain. They went home unbeaten, having yielded only one goal in
Cup Final Tournament Format History
tournament but the first in 1930 began with a preliminary competition which
determined the teams that took part in the final tournament.
Host nations have qualified automatically for all final tournaments
but that of 1934, when Italy had to qualify through preliminary
competition. At the 2002 tournament, the first staged in two
countries, both hosts, Korea Republic and Japan, qualified automatically. The
reigning champions have qualified for all tournaments since the second
in 1934; the 1930 winners, Uruguay, chose not to take part in the 1934
tournament. FIFA decided in 2002 that following that year's
tournament, the winning team would no longer qualify
automatically. However, there is a move afoot to reverse this
decision or at least to leave the question of automatic qualification
to the choice of the reigning champions.
the first tournament, held in Uruguay in 1930, 13 teams, including the
host nation, took part by invitation. The teams were divided
into four first round groups, with each team playing the others in the
group and the group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
preliminary competition was held for the first time before the 1934
final tournament in Italy, and 16 teams qualified. There was no
group play at the final tournament; all matches were played on a
knockout basis with the winners advancing to the next round.
Extra-time was played if the teams were drawn at the end of regulation
time, and the match was replayed if still drawn at the end of
extra-time. The 16-team tournament remained the standard until
the 1982 final tournament in Spain.
same format was followed at the 1938 final tournament in France,
except that one team, Sweden, was given a first-round bye due to the
late withdrawal of Austria following its annexation by Germany.
play was reinstated for the 1950 final tournament in Brazil--with a
vengeance. Following the preliminary competition, the 16
qualifying teams were divided into four first round groups.
Although three of the 16 teams withdrew and were not replaced, the
groups were not realigned and the first round was held with groups of
four, four, three and two teams. The winners of the four first
round groups advanced to a final pool, as it was called, and the team
finishing top of this final group won the tournament. There were
no quarterfinals or semi-finals. Since none of the matches were
held on a knockout basis, draws were allowed to stand without
extra-time or replays.
fiddling with the format came at the 1954 final tournament in
Switzerland. The 16 qualifying teams were divided into four
groups for the first round, but two teams in each group were seeded
and did not play each other. Each team thus played only two of
the other three teams in the group. In an effort to forestall
the consequent increased likelihood of points deadlocks in the group
tables, extra-time was played if the first round group matches were
drawn at the end of regulation time, although the draw was allowed to
stand without a replay if extra-time did not produce a winner.
This is the only occasion in the tournament's history when extra-time
was employed during group play. Playoff matches were held if two
teams were level on points at the end of group play; resort to goal
difference and goals scored were not yet in use to break such
deadlocks. The top two teams in each group advanced to the
quarterfinals, which, once again, were conducted on a knockout basis,
the winners advancing to the semi-finals and the winners of those to
the final match.
returned at the 1958 final tournament in Sweden. The 16
qualifying teams were divided into four groups, with each team playing
the three others in the group and draws allowed to stand without
extra-time. Deadlocks in points in the group table were broken
by playoff matches. The two top teams in each group advanced to
the quarterfinals, which were held on a knockout basis.
Extra-time and replays were available to settle draws at the knockout
stages, but there was no need for them at this tournament.
format used at the 1958 tournament became the standard and was
employed at the next three tournaments, in Chile in 1962, England in
1966 and Mexico in 1970. However, beginning in 1962, deadlocks
in group standings were resolved by resort to goals scored.
tinkering followed at the 1974 final tournament in West Germany.
As usual, the 16 qualifying teams were divided into four first round
groups of four teams with each team playing all the others in the
group. The two top teams advanced to two second round groups of
four teams each with each team again playing all the others in the
group and draws allowed to stand at the end of regulation time.
The two top teams in these two second-round groups advanced to the
final match. Deadlocks in group standings were broken for the
first time by resort to goal difference rather than goals
scored. The two second-place teams advanced to the third-place
match. There were no quarterfinals or semi-finals; only the final
and the third-place match were held on a knockout basis.
1974 format was followed at the 1978 final tournament in Argentina.
were more changes at the 1982 final tournament in Spain. The
number of qualifying teams was expanded from 16 to 24. They were
divided in six first round groups of four teams. Following
round-robin play, the two top teams in each group advanced to four
second-round groups of three teams each. After round-robin play
in these second-round groups, the four first-place teams advanced to
the semi-finals. There were no quarterfinals. For the first
time, the penalty kicks shootout was used in the knockout stages to
determine which team advanced if the teams remained drawn at the end
of extra-time. There were to be no more replayed matches.
elimination again got the emphasis at the 1986 tournament in
Mexico. Once again the 24 qualifying teams were divided into
six groups of four teams each. But this time the top two teams
in each group plus the four third-place teams with the best record in
group play--determined on the basis of points earned and then goal
difference and goals scored--advanced to a round of 16 teams conducted
on a knockout basis, followed by quarterfinals, semi-finals and the
final and third-place matches.
same format was used at the 1990 final tournament in Italy and the
1994 final tournament in the U.S.A.
the 1998 final tournament in France, the number of qualifying teams
was increased from 24 to 32. These 32 teams were divided into eight
first-round groups of four teams each. Following group play, the
top two teams in each group advanced to the round of 16 teams
conducted on a knockout basis, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals
and the final and third-place match.
same format was used at the 2002 final tournament in Japan and South
Korea. Both host nations as well as the reigning champions
qualified automatically, and so the number of teams qualifying through
preliminary competition was reduced to 29.