Hot off the Press
From Japan’s Pokemon mascot to the United Arab Emirates’ Rolls Royce give away and Brazil’s ongoing list of world records, it’s no surprise the FIFA World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world. Next time you’re in a conversation about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, instead of sounding like a fair-weather “football” fan, pull out these wacky World Cup facts, and you’re guaranteed to impress even the most serious soccer enthusiasts.
#1. The Jules Rimet Trophy — the grand prize of the World Cup finals — was stolen (for the first time) from England in 1966. It may have never been recovered if a small dog named Pickles hadn’t sniffed it out from its hiding spot in a suburban garden in South East London.
#2. The official 2014 FIFA World Cup match ball has been named the “Adidas Brazuca.” Over 1 million Brazilian soccer fans voted on the name of the ball; 77.8 percent of the votes went toward “Brazuca”, while “Bossa Nova” received 14.6 percent and “Carnavalesca” came in third with 7.6 percent. It is the first-ever FIFA World Cup match ball to be named by the fans.
#3. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) decided that any team who won the World Cup three times would get to take home the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently. When Brazil won their third FIFA World Cup in 1970, they brought it back to Rio de Janeiro where it was stolen in 1983. The trophy was never found.
#4. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to take place in Qatar. For the first time ever, FIFA is considering moving the World Cup to November and December instead of June and July, because the summer temperatures in Qatar hover around 45 degrees Celsius.
#5. The World Cup construction for 2022 that has already begun in Qatar is facing serious scrutiny for human rights and labor violations. According to the International Trade Union Confederation over 900 Indian and Nepalese workers have already died from the lack of drinking water and extreme heat endured while constructing the 2022 World Cup arenas in Qatar.
#6. World Cup Willie — chosen for the 1966 World Cup in England — was the first-ever World Cup mascot. Fuleco (a three-banded armadillo) is the official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Also known as tatu-bolas, these armadillos roll into a ball to defend themselves against predators.
#7. Pikachu (the popular Pokemon cartoon character) will be Japan’s mascot for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Nine other Pokemon characters will also support the Japanese men’s and women’s teams in their run for the 2014 FIFA World Cup trophy.
#8. King Carol II personally selected Romania’s 1930 team for the first World Cup in history.
#9. After the Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in the early 1970s, 53 designers fought to create a new FIFA World Cup Trophy. The chosen trophy — designed by Silvio Gazzaniga of Italy — is made of 18-carat gold, weighs 6.18 kilograms and stands 36.8 centimeters tall. The winning team is now awarded a replica of the trophy, but the original stays in FIFA’s hands for safety.
#10. United Arab Emirates’ goal scorers were promised a Rolls Royce for every goal they scored in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Two goals were scored in the three losing matches the team played.
#11. The Brazilian squad is the only soccer team to qualify for every world cup in history. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be the 20th FIFA World Cup for which they’ve qualified. From 2002 to 2006, the Brazilian team won 11 straight World Cup Games, which gave them the record for the highest number of consecutive World Cup wins.
#12. The Italian squad broke a large piece of malachite off of the World Cup trophy’s base while celebrating after winning the finals in 2006.
#13. To hold the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar will have to spend at least $220 billion to build hotels, stadiums and entire cities for the events and spectators. That’s $216.5 billion more than the World Cup cost South Africa in 2010. Lusail City — the city that is set to host the 2022 World Cup final — doesn’t even exist yet.
#14. As the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, roughly 3.2 billion people watched the FIFA World Cup final 2010; that’s nearly half (46.4 percent) of the world’s population.