16 Things You Didn't Know About World Cup Football

By Spencer Hart on at

We finally have another topic to awkwardly talk about besides the weather: it's World Cup time! So instead of standing in the Post Office queue unable to comment on Rooney's goal in the previous night's game, why not try to impress your fellow queue-surfers with 16 amazing facts about the beautiful game?

1.) Football was first played in China

Football, more English than the Queen right? Nope! The game was actually first played in China during the Han Dynasty around 200 BC. Known as 'cuju', the game involved 12 players kicking a leather ball at a rectangular piece of cloth; 2200 years later, not much has changed. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

2.) Football or Soccer?

The age old debate, is it called football or soccer? Turns out, the Americans might actually be correct. It was actually us Brits that called the game 'soccer' first. The rules of the game were first established in 1863, and to distinguish it from 'Rugby Football', the new game was called 'Association Football'. Just like rugby to 'rugger', Association Football was shortened by British schoolboys to 'assoccer' or 'soccer'. Rugby and soccer were played solely by the upper classes of society for 18 years; until the working classes began playing the game and it became known as simply, 'football'. [Image Credit: Red Coat Yankee]

3.) The first World Cup was staged in 1930

Over 80 years ago the first World Cup was held in Uruguay, with 13 teams from around the world taking part. Seven teams from South America played, four from Europe and two from North America. Many European teams declined to take part due to the difficulties of travelling to South America. Host nation Uruguay beat neighbours Argentina 4-2 in the final, becoming the first country to lift the World Cup trophy. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

4.) Brazil is the most expensive team in the 2014 tournament

Pluri Consultoria calculated the market value of every World Cup football team, with Brazil costing the most at around £400 million. At number eight on the list, the English team is a relative bargain at £250 million. [Image Credit: Tourist Maker]

5.) Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored in the 7th minute

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 400 goals in his professional career, but none of these goals have been scored in the 7th minute -- the only minute he has failed to score in! Ronaldo's favourite time to score is in the 68th, where he has hit the back of the net 11 times. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

6.) Guess who was excluded from the World Cup after World War II

After the Second World War FIFA had trouble finding a host nation for the 1950 World Cup. Eventually Brazil placed a bid that was quickly accepted and preparations began for the first post-war Cup. Germany and Japan were not permitted to take part under international sanctions, while the Soviet Union, Hungary and Czechoslovakia all declined to participate. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

7.) A 'checkered' history

Have you ever wondered where the classic black and white checkered ball design originated? Well it was first used in the 1970 World Cup, where the design was painted onto the ball in order to make it more visible on black and white televisions. Everybody wanted to buy the checkered balls which professionals used on TV, and thus football merchandising was born, making us poorer ever since. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

8.) The most common World Cup scoreline is 1-0

The most common scoreline in international football is 1-0 with 18.8 per cent of World Cup games ending with that result. The second most common result is 2-1 (14.5 per cent) while the third is 2-0 (11 per cent). [Image Credit: The Football Attic]

9.) Numbers first appeared on shirts in 1954

Although numbered shirts had been used in Association Football since 1924, the first time numbered shirts appeared in international football was thirty years later, in 1954. Numbers were first used to indicate field location. Interesting side fact: players wearing shirt number nine have scored more goals than any other number. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

10.) The largest scoreline in the history of the World Cup is 31-0

In April 2001, Australia beat American Samoa 31-0 in a World Cup qualifying match, making it the biggest scoreline in the history of international football. The infamous match also thrust Archie Thompson into the record books; with 13 goals under his belt, Thomson currently hold the record for most goals in a single international match. The highest scoreline ever in an Association Football match is 149-0, when a planned protest by the team SO l'Emyrne saw the team score 149 own goals and fans riot.  [Image Credit: Zimbio]

11.) Own goals account for 1.6 per cent of goals in the World Cup

There has been a total of 36 own goals scored in the history of the World Cup, accounting for 1.6 per cent of the international goals. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

12.) The 1954 World Cup was the first to be televised

But it was in 2010 that the World Cup was the most-viewed sporting event in the world. The South Africa event was shown in every single country and territory on Earth, including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. [Image Credit: Who Ate All The Pie]

13.) This year's World Cup is the first to feature goal-line technology

GoalControl has positioned seven high-speed camera around every goal which will be used for World Cup matches. The cameras are connected to a computer which detects with an accuracy of one millimetre, whether a ball passes the goal-line. When the computer detects a goal, a message reading 'GOAL', is sent to the referee's watch. The 2014 World Cup is looking to be the most technologically advanced ever, with connected mobile apps and a number of ways to watch. [Image Credit: Telegraph]

14.) The World Cup trophy has been stolen... twice

In March 1966, the World Cup was stolen while on public exhibition in London. The trophy was found seven days later by a dog named Pickles, wrapped in newspaper, underneath a hedge in South London. In 1970, Brazil won the cup for a third time, allowing them to keep the trophy permanently. Unfortunately in 1983, it was stolen from the Brazilian Football Confederation's headquarters and never returned. [Image Credit: Eurosport]

15.) Football Manager was banned in China

It's hard to believe a video game without swearing, violence or sex could be banned, but in 2005 Football Manager was banned in China. The game apparently contained, "content harmful to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."  The 2005 version of the game included Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries which, "seriously violates Chinese law." [Image Credit: Hardware Heaven]

16.) Football is bad for the brain

Scientists from the University of Helsinki scanned the brains of players and discovered an elevated number of scar tissue in their brains. They linked this to the number of headers that footballers perform. So next time they mumble their way through a post-game interview, just remember: it's not their fault. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

[Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock]