We at Koala Chess Art HQ have been watching the FIFA World Cup and supporting our home nation of England as they reach the semi-finals! To celebrate this momentous occasion, we thought we would bring you some fun facts about the tournament through the ages. Let’s see how many you know!
1 - The World Cup has been held 20 times - but who do you think has won the most? Well, no big surprise, it’s Brazil! The nation famous for producing fabulous footballers has been crowned champion 5 times, with Italy and Germany chasing closely behind with 4 wins.
2 - This year’s host, Russia, is the biggest country in the world. In fact, the distance between two cities hosting this year’s tournament - Kaliningrad in the West and Ekaterinburg in the East, is over 1,500 miles. That’s the same as going from Moscow to London!
3 - Currently the World Cup hosts 32 teams, but for the 2026 tournament, this will rise to 48 as Fifa announce plans to expand. We at Koala Chess Art are happy more teams get to participate - all in the name of sporting fun!
4 - In the true spirit of patriotism, every one of the tournaments played has been won by a team whose coach is the same nationality. Some famous coaches at previous world cup stages include Zinedine Zidane of France and Stanislav Cherchesov of Russia.
5 - The fastest goal ever scored was by Turkey’s Hakan Sukur who hit the back of the net after just an incredible 11 seconds in 2002. But can you guess what event holds another quickest record after a time of just 56 seconds? Well it was in fact for the earliest red card, which was given to Uruguayan defender Jose Batista in 1986. Batista was sent off just 56 seconds into the match after he committed a high studded slide tackle to the back of the legs of Scottish midfielder Gordon Strachan. Ouch!
6 - Did you know the World Cup trophy was actually stolen? And on England’s home turf! An infamous London gangster and his brother were linked to the crime, which took place just months before England were due to host it in 1966. The prize, known as the Jules Rimet trophy, was taken while it was on exhibition at Westminster’s Methodist Central Hall. It even sparked one of the biggest investigations in the history of Scotland Yard! Luckily it was found 7 days later - but by an unlikely hero in the form of a dog named Pickles, who came across the trophy in the bushes outside his owner’s home in South London. Go Pickles!
Did you know some of them? Any of them? Well you learn something new every day! We now have our fingers crossed for England’s match against Croatia on Wednesday night. But the real winners are those who take part and the countries who rally behind their team. The World Cup is a great way to show good sportsmanship and gives the world an opportunity to come together as a community. With all of the negative news out there, we here at Koala HQ applaud this friendliness and positivity!