FIFA World Cup
The first intercontinental football competition for national teams was held at the 1920 Olympics. Due to the success of this and subsequent tournaments, FIFA's president, Jules Rimet, proposed that FIFA organise its own competition and his plans were adopted at the annual congress on 28 May 1928. Uruguay, who had won the Olympics in 1924 and 1928 and were de facto world champions, were chosen to host the first tournament in 1930.
Because of the difficulties of inter-continental travel, few European teams were prepared to travel to Uruguay while Brazil were the only South American team that competed in both the 1934 and 1938 competitions in Europe. The competitions planned for 1942 and 1946 were cancelled because of World War II.
The World Cup resumed in 1950 and gradually grew in stature while the development of intercontinental air travel made participation more practical. European and South American teams dominated but by the mid-1970s there was a growing clamour from the American, African and Asian federations for increased participation. This led to an expansion from 16 to 24 teams in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998. At the same time commercial sponsorship and the value of broadcasting rights grew exponentially making the World Cup the most lucrative competition in the world and generating vast revenues for FIFA.
The original trophy (left) was renamed in honour of Jules Rimet in 1946 and was won outright by Brazil in 1970. The replacement, known as the FIFA World Cup Trophy was introduced in 1974. The original Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in 1983 and never recovered.