Just days remain until the official opening of the 21st FIFA World Cup in Russia, a tournament which has been in the works for eight years. In reality though, the roots of Russia 2018 can be traced back a lot further than that.
On May 28 1928, 90 years ago today, the FIFA Congress held their 17th annual meeting in Amsterdam. It was here that the the member nations collectively agreed to hold their own international tournament, something which came to be known as the World Cup.
Prior to this FIFA had been responsible for arranging Olympic football and it was the success of these tournaments, which began in 1920, which led to FIFA President Jules Rimet’s vision for a stand-alone football tournament of their own.
Two years later, in 1930, the first ever World Cup was held in Uruguay, who were at the time the world’s dominant football force. The Uruguayan team had won gold at two Olympic Games and the centenary of their independence from Brazil would coincide with the beginning of the tournament.
Only four teams from Europe (Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia) undertook the difficult journey to the tournament’s base in Montevideo, joined by a further seven teams from South America and two from North America, making 13 teams total.
Uruguay underlined its status as the world’s best side, beating Argentina 4-2 in the first ever World Cup final to claim the Jules Rimet trophy. There have been 20 tournaments since which have created some of the sport’s most enduring memories.
In the decades since the first World Cup, the competition now accommodates 32 teams, with practically every country in the world eligible to qualify. This year’s tournament in Russia will harness new Video Assisted Referee (VAR) technology for the first time, something unavailable in previous tournaments, in what will be the most high-tech tournament yet.
Russia 2018 is just around the corner, the latest iteration of Jules Rimet’s vision from all those years ago.