World Cup Betting Offers 2018

coral world cup 2018 new customer offer for UK customersThe World Cup is more than an International football competition, it is one of those rare global events that brings the planet together.  Whatever peoples interest in football on a day to day basis we all tend to have an allegiance or an opinion when it comes who will win the so called ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.  Many of us, whether we bet often or not, like to back our home or favourite team, or at least wager against our enemies.

The World Cup only comes around once every four years and online bookmakers save up some of their very best free bet and enhanced odds offers to attract both new and loyal customers during the month long spectacle.  Whether you are looking for a high value welcome offer or a good existing customer deal for regular betting throughout the World Cup then you have come to the right page.  Below find our top free bets, new customer price boosts and the latest offers for all customers.  Further down we’ve got the full schedule as well as World Cup odds, history, stats and key facts.

World Cup 2018 Free Bets & Bonuses

Bonus (T&Cs Apply) Details Claim
Bet £20 Get £60 Unibet have more deals and enhancements for the WC out of all betting sites
T&Cs apply 18+
Opt in on registration, deposit (minimum £10) and bet £20+ on any sports market (except Racing, one or many bets) with minimum odds of 3/5 (1.6). Once all bets are settled get 2 x £20 free bets (£20 pre-match and £20 in-play), valid 30 days, use at 3/5+ odds. Also get a £20 casino bonus (35x wagering in 30 days, select games). New customers, full terms and eligibility requirements apply.
Bet £10, Get £30 Free + £10 Acca bonus and insurance offers plus lots of profit boosts
T&Cs apply 18+
Offer for new customers, deposit minimum of £10, enter code FB10. Place a 'real money' £10+ qualifying bet on any single sports market with minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5). Free bet tokens (3x£10) open to any markets plus a £10 free bet for any world market, credited on bet settlement and expire after 7 days. Winnings from free bet cash, stake itself not given back. Withdrawal and deposit restriction apply.
Bet £10 Get £60 Best for personalised rewards, free bets and bonuses for regular punters
T&Cs apply 18+
Deposit (debit or credit card only), bet £10+ (evens+ odds) within 7 days. Get 5x£10 free bet tokens (1x any event, 1x in-play, 1x treble+, 1x 5-fold+, 1x virtual) and a £10 casino bonus (40x rollover, game weighting varies), all valid 7 days.
Bet £10 Get £30 Bet boost daily, choose your own wagers + best acca insurance deal
T&Cs apply 18+
New online customers only. Min. unit stake of £10/€10 at odds of 1/2 or greater. Only the “win” part from EW bets will count. Free bet terms, payment method & country restrictions apply. Free bets credited as 3 x £10/€10. Free bet stakes are not returned as part of the settlement of successful free bets. All Free Bets must be wagered within 30 days.
£50 Free Bet Get daily odds boost for any bets you like, stakes up to £50, all cash
T&Cs apply 18+
18+. New customers only. Promo code 'F50' required. Certain deposit methods excluded. Min £/€5 on win or each-way bet excluding Tote or pools = match max £/€50 free bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Bet must be made within 14 days. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. Single bets only. Free bet cannot be used on certain markets. T&Cs apply.
Bet £5, £20 in Free Bets Weekly free bet club & outstanding price boosts
T&Cs apply 18+
18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £5 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £20 credited as 4 x £5 free bets. Not valid with Cash Out. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. T&Cs apply.
Bet £10 Get £30 Cash acca bonuses, money back & free bet deals daily & in play bet club
T&Cs apply 18+
New customers; Min. £10 deposit and bet on selected markets (min. odds of Evens); Free Bet credited in 3 tokens - £10 each; Withdrawal before Free Bet is credited results in ineligibility; Cashed out bets are not eligible; Free Bets can be used within 7 days after credited; Terms apply; 18+
£10 Free & £25 Bonus Best loyalty points scheme around, honest site with fair terms and language
New customers who register and opt in can qualify for a £10 free bet, £25 casino bonus & 20 free spins. The free bet is activated by a £10+ deposit and bet at 4/5+ within 14 days. First deposit is also matched 100% up to £25 with a casino bonus (35x rollover) and for registering you can also claim 20 free spins (30x rollover, £100 max win, valid 7 days)
£10 Free Bet Earn points for every bet placed that can be converted to bonuses & prizes, top for loyalty
New UK (mainland only) customers (18+). Opt in on sign up, deposit and bet £10+ at evens (1/1)+ odds (each way bets or Asian handicaps) within 2 weeks to receive a £10 free bet token within 24 hours valid for 30 days. Full terms apply.
Up to £100 in Bet Credits Our personal favourite betting site for high value offers & best features
T&Cs apply 18+
Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
£30 Free Bet 4 To Score free world cup prediction game, multiples free bet club & lots of free bets
T&Cs apply 18+
New UK & Ireland customers. Deposit (credit, debit card or PayPal) minimum £10 in 7 days of registration. First deposit matched up to £30. Wager deposit 1x at 3/4 (1.75) to release free bet, expires after 7 days. Full T&Cs apply.
Bet £10, £30 Free+30 Spins Top betting site for goalscorer bets and outright markets through the World Cup
T&Cs apply 18+
Deposit (eWallets restrictions apply) and wager £10+ at single or cumulative minimum odds of evens (2.0). £30 free bet awarded within 48 hours then valid for 7 days. Maximum 30 free spins must be used over 5+ game rounds, game restrictions apply, spins expire after 7 days. Open to new UK and Northern Ireland customers, full T&Cs apply.

World Cup Sign Up Specials

New Customers Only, Terms and Conditions Apply, 18+ Years Old
Join with code 888ODDS, deposit at least £10 and bet £5. Standard odds paid in cash, enhanced price paid in free tokens valid for 7 days
T&Cs apply 18+
£1 Bet only. Min. £5 deposit, plus £5 free bet should your bet lose (excludes Coral Connect). Available for a limited time. 18+ t&cs apply. UK+IRE New Customers Only. Winning bets paid in cash based on the normal price on website. Enhanced odds paid in free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days.
T&Cs apply 18+
£5 stake, £10 min deposit, promo code 888ODDS, normal odds winnings cash, enhanced in free tokens, valid for 7 days open to any markets
T&Cs apply 18+
Deposit & bet £25+ at odds of 3/5+ and get a £25 bonus once bets settle, stake bonus 7x at 3/5+ to withdraw, use code RZWORLDCUP
T&Cs apply 18+
Opt in & deposit £10+ within 4 days, £20 sports & £20 casino bonus, 5x wagering 4/5+ (in 10 days) to release sports, 40x casino (in 2 days) bonus.
T&Cs apply 18+
Deposit £10+, code SNWORLDCUP. Bet £10+ at 1/2+ odds, on settlement get a £10 free bet, valid 7 days, must be used at 1/2+ odds , open to any markets
T&Cs apply 18+
New Customers can get Portugal at an enhanced 30/1 to beat Morocco. Max Stake £1. Winnings paid in free bets, valid for 7 days, only deposits with cards/Paypal count. Exchange and multiple bets excluded. Gamble Aware
T&Cs apply 18+
Bet £20 pre-match, contact support and then get a £50 token, bet free bet (stake not returned) then wager any winnings 5x at evens in 30 days
T&Cs apply 18+
Register with code GET30, bet £10 on the result pre-match (1/2+) and win or lose get a £30 free bet within 3 days, valid 7 days (use at 1/2+)
T&Cs apply 18+

Latest World Cup 2018 Offers For All Customers

Enhanced Winnings, Odds or Terms

Get your bet paid out as a winner if the team you back goes 2 goals ahead. Applies to pre-match single bets on Full Time Result market for all World Cup 2018 matches. Bet restrictions & T&Cs apply. New & eligible customers only
T&Cs apply 18+
Back a goalscorer market (first, last or anytime), if bet wins & player scores before HT get 2x winnings, extra as free bet up to £25 valid 7 days
T&Cs apply 18+
Singles only. Max stake £200, 1x pre-match & 1x in-play boost per customer per world cup fixture. Player/country/currency restrictions apply
T&Cs apply 18+
One boost/customer/game from 8am on the match day, pre-event or in-play (deposit restrictions apply), applies to stakes up to £50, all cash, no min odds
T&Cs apply 18+
Back a match winner in any game (up to £1000) if your team scores in the first 5 mins get paid out in cash regardless of the result
T&Cs apply 18+
Double winnings on all pre-match bets (£20 max stake, £500 max extra win as a free bet) if any team hits the bar in the days selected match
T&Cs apply 18+

Free Bets and Bonuses

Place a £5+, Evens+, pre-match wager this game, any market, and get £5 free (to use on any sports) valid 7 days (max win £20,000)
T&Cs apply 18+
Opt in & bet £10+, 3+ selection accumulator (1/2+ / leg) containing matches from that day & get £5 free bet (7 day expiry), can claim once every day
T&Cs apply 18+
Customers who place 5x£5+ evens+ bets in any day get a £5 free bet (valid 7 days, use at odds between 4/5 and 7/1). Cashed out bets do not count.
T&Cs apply 18+
Stake £5+ on a world cup market (1/2+ odds) and get £5 casino credits in 24 hours, valid 7 days with 30 wagering required, one/customer
T&Cs apply 18+

Money Back and Insurance

Refund (free bet up to £10, valid 7 days) on goalscorer (first, last & anytime), correct score and WhatOddsPaddy markets if Spain win the match
T&Cs apply 18+
Back a team to win the tournament and get a refund if your selection is eliminated on penalties. Applies to losing pre-match Win and Each Way bets on the To Win Outright market for World Cup 2018. Bet restrictions and T&Cs apply. New and eligible customers only.
T&Cs apply 18+
Refund on all outright cash bets (until 30th June 3pm) if England are knocked out in a penalty shoot out, win bets only, no min/max refund
T&Cs apply 18+
As a free bet (valid 7 days) up to £50 on Evens+ bets on 1st/last/anytime goalscorer market if you lose due to decision overturned by VAR
T&Cs apply 18+
Refund for any Soccer game that finishes 0-0 at bet365. Applies to losing pre-match bets on any Correct Score, Half-Time/Full-Time or Scorecast markets. Bet restrictions & T&Cs apply. New & eligible customers only
T&Cs apply 18+
Place a 'same game multi' bet on the WC and get your money back up to £10 as a free bet if it loses, credited in 2 hours, valid for 48 hours
T&Cs apply 18+
Result bets (evens+) refunded up to £20 (as a free token valid 7 days) if your team is 1-0 up but goes on to lose the game
T&Cs apply 18+
Place a same game multi bet with 4+ legs on any world cup game and if one lets you down money back up to £10 as a free bet (valid one week)
T&Cs apply 18+

Jackpots, Free Games & Specials

Win 1 entry into a prize draw and qualify for 2 promotions. Individual promo bonus terms apply. Player eligibility, location, currency restrictions apply
T&Cs apply 18+
World Cup competition for both new & existing users, £1,000,000 prize to whoever wins biggest odds £1+ bet on the tournament
T&Cs apply 18+
ComeOn, in their tradition of loyalty, have a new world cup free bet, bonus or similar offer daily, rewarding customers the most who bet throught
T&Cs apply 18+
Predict 1st goalscroers in selected matches in each round, guess right & win or share £25k cash, 11 rounds, jackpot rolled over if not won
T&Cs apply 18+

More Offer Pages

Visit our main football page for a list of more existing customer offers
For insurance, bonus & free bet accumualtor offers visit our acca page
See our dedicated page for offers that reward punters who like to bet regularly
The Million Pound Bet
betvictor the million pound bet world cup 2018 b

Open to new and existing customers the concept of this offer is very simple. The user who placed a bet on any world cup market with the highest overall odds will win (or share) £1,000,000 in real tax free cash.

The offer is applicable to all winning wagers placed on the world cup with a stake of £1 or more, this includes any single bets but not multiples or accumulators. It also includes the #PriceItUp market, which is a very good way to build bets with high odds.

On top of the overall prize there is also a £5,000 prize to the customer with the highest odds winning bet on each of the 25 match days during the tournament (or shared if more than one with same odds). The top 100 positions on the leader board at the end of the World Cup will also share £5,000 in casino bonuses (x wagering requirement, selected games). For more about the offer read our dedicated page, or to play visit BetVictor below.

T&Cs Apply, 18+ Only
£1,000,000 In World Cup Jackpot Prizes
unibet 1000000 world cup jackpot

Place a £5+ bet on any world cup fixture (pre-game or in-play) and get an entry into the jackpot for that game. There is a jackpot prize for all 64 games, starting at £10,000 for each group game and rising through the knockouts (£15k 2nd round, £30k QF's & third place play off, £40k SF's) with a £150,000 jackpot for the world cup final.

After each fixture a draw is made, within 15 minutes of full-time, and ten tickets are drawn, the prize is then split between the ten winners and will be in your account within 15 minutes of the draw. If you place a £5+ multiple bet you will get an entry into the jackpot for each relevant match, e.g. place a treble on three different group stage games and get three tickets, an entry to the jackpot of each game. There are no minimum odds required to qualify either and no maximum ticket limits per game, or overall.

Each £5 bet will earn you one ticket to the game you bet on PLUS one additional ticket for the World Cup Final draw. Also for every £5 increment you wager you will also get another ticket, e.g. bet £10 on a match and get four tickets, two jackpot entries for that game and two entries for the final, place a £10 double get six tickets, two for each game and two for the final, etc.

This is the type of promotion that is perfect for any punter that was going to place £5+ singles or accumulators on world cup matches anyway. If you are going to place these bets you might as well be in with a chance of winning a cash jackpot prize too.

T&Cs Apply, 18+ Only
Beat The Drop
paddy power beat the drop win £1000000

New concept from Paddy Power that in effect is a reverse multiple bet. What do we mean by that? Well you start off with maximum winnings in a pot and you then answer a series of questions with only 2 possible outcomes, deciding each time how much of your pot to risk on either answer. Yes it's the same idea as the TV show, answer the chosen number of questions while either splitting the pot or going all in.

To begin with all new and existing customers get one free attempt to win a massive £1,000,000 in cash. You start off with a million in your pot and then answer 20 questions in turn, whatever you have left at the end of the game is your to keep in real withdrawable cash. How much you can win depends on how confident you are in your answers and how much of your pot you risk each time.

Following your free go you can now enter the game in a more flexible way by buying tickets with either a £2, £5, £10, £20 or £50 stake and choosing the number of questions you want to answer, from 2 - 20. The bet size and question number then define the pot size. For more details of how to play see our dedicated beat the drop page by clicking more details below.

T&Cs Apply, 18+ Only

Latest 2018 World Cup Prices

Outright Odds

Site Brazil Germany Spain France Argentina England Visit
unibet 17/4 8/1 9/2 7/1 12/1 12/1
T&Cs apply 18+
bet365 4/1 8/1 9/2 7/1 11/1 12/1
T&Cs apply 18+
betvictor 10/3 9/1 9/2 8/1 10/1 10/1
T&Cs apply 18+
william-hill 4/1 7/1 9/2 15/2 12/1 12/1
T&Cs apply 18+
ladbrokes 4/1 8/1 9/2 15/2 11/1 10/1
T&Cs apply 18+

Odds updated 19/06/2018

Golden Boot Odds

Site Messi Griezmann Neymar Ronaldo Jesus Kane Visit
unibet 24/1 17/1 17/1 2/1 30/1 13/2
T&Cs apply 18+
bet365 20/1 16/1 16/1 9/4 25/1 13/2
T&Cs apply 18+
betvictor 25/1 16/1 16/1 5/2 33/1 4/1
T&Cs apply 18+
william-hill 25/1 12/1 14/1 9/4 25/1 5/1
T&Cs apply 18+
ladbrokes 25/1 12/1 18/1 15/8 25/1 5/1
T&Cs apply 18+

Odds updated 19/06/2018

World Cup Fixture Schedule & TV Coverage

Group A

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
14th June 4pm Russia v Saudi Arabia Moscow ITV
15th June 1pm Egypt v Uruguay Yekaterinburg BBC
19th June 7pm Russia v Egypt St Petersburg BBC
20th June 4pm Uruguay v Saudi Arabia Rostov-on-Don BBC
25th June 3pm Uruguay v Russia Samara ITV
25th June 3pm Saudi Arabia v Egypt Volgograd ITV

Group B

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
15th June 4pm Morocco v Iran St Petersburg ITV
15th June 7pm Portugal v Spain Scohi BBC
20th June 1pm Morocco v Portugal Moscow BBC
20th June 7pm Iran v Spain Kazan ITV
25th June 7pm Iran v Portugal Saransk BBC
25th June 7pm Spain v Morocco Kaliningrad BBC

Group C

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
16th June 11am France v Australia Kazan BBC
16th June 5pm Peru v Denmark Saransk BBC
21st June 1pm Denmark v Australia Samara ITV
21st June 4pm France v Peru Yekaterinburg ITV
26th June 3pm Denmark v France Moscow ITV
26th June 3pm Australia v Peru Scohi ITV

Group D

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
16th June 2pm Argentina v Iceland Moscow ITV
16th June 8pm Croatia v Nigeria Kaliningrad ITV
21st June 7pm Argentina v Croatia Nizhny Novgorod BBC
22nd June 4pm Nigeria v Iceland Volgograd BBC
26th June 7pm Nigeria v Argentina St Petersburg BBC
26th June 7pm Iceland v Croatia Rostov-on-Don BBC

Group E

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
17th June 1pm Costa Rica v Serbia Samara ITV
17th June 7pm Brazil v Switzerland Rostov-on-Don ITV
22nd June 1pm Brazil v Costa Rica St Petersburg ITV
22nd June 7pm Serbia v Switzerland Kaliningrad BBC
27th June 7pm Serbia v Brazil Moscow ITV
27th June 7pm Switzerland v Costa Rica Nizhny Novgorod ITV

Group F

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
17th June 4pm Germany v Mexico Moscow BBC
18th June 1pm Sweden v South Korea Nizhny Novgorod ITV
23rd June 4pm South Korea v Mexico Rostov-on-Don ITV
23rd June 7pm Germany v Sweden Scohi ITV
27th June 3pm South Korea v Germany Kazan BBC
27th June 3pm Mexico v Sweden Yekaterinburg BBC

Group G

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
18th June 4pm Belgium v Panama Scohi BBC
18th June 7pm Tunisia v England Volgograd BBC
23rd June 1pm Belgium v Tunisia Moscow BBC
24th June 1pm England v Panama Nizhny Novgorod BBC
28th June 7pm England v Belgium Kaliningrad ITV
28th June 7pm Panama v Tunisia Saransk ITV

Group H

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
19th June 1pm Colombia v Japan Moscow BBC
19th June 4pm Poland v Senegal Saransk ITV
24th June 4pm Japan v Senegal Yekaterinburg BBC
24th June 7pm Poland v Colombia Kazan ITV
28th June 3pm Japan v Poland Volgograd BBC
28th June 3pm Senegal v Colombia Samara BBC

Last 16

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
30th June 3pm C Winner v D Runner-Up Kazan TBC
30th June 7pm A Winner v B Runner-Up Scohi TBC
1st July 3pm B Winner v A Runner-Up Moscow TBC
1st July 7pm D Winner v C Runner-Up Nizhny Novgorod TBC
2nd July 3pm E Winner v F Runner-Up Samara TBC
2nd July 7pm G Winner v H Runner-Up Rostov-on-Don TBC
3rd July 3pm F Winner v E Runner-Up St Petersburg TBC
3rd July 7pm H Winner v G Runner-Up Moscow TBC

Quarter Finals

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
6th July 3pm Match 1 Winner v Match 2 Winner Nizhny Novgorod TBC
6th July 7pm Match 5 Winner v Match 6 Winner Kazan TBC
7th July 3pm Match 7 Winner v Match 8 Winner Samara TBC
7th July 7pm Match 3 Winner v Match 4 Winner Scohi TBC

Semi Finals

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
10th July 7pm Q1 Winner v Q2 Winner St Petersburg TBC
11th July 7pm Q3 Winner v Q4 Winner Moscow TBC

Play Off for Third Place

Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
14th July 3pm S1 Loser v S2 Loser St Petersburg TBC


Date Time (UK) Fixture Location Channel
15th July 4pm S1 Winner v S2 Winner Moscow BBC / ITV

World Cup Format


The system of qualification for the World Cup involves what are in effect six smaller tournaments.

Each continental zone, as defined by FIFA (Africa, Central & North America, Europe, South America and Oceania), are given several finals places depending on the coefficient measure of how strong the leagues and teams are from that area.

For 2018 this resulted in 13 slots for Europe, plus Russia who qualify as hosts, 5 for Africa, 4 for Asia and South American and 3 for North and Central America. The remaining two spots are decided by an inter-confederation play-offs, off which Oceana can only win one possible place.

To make things nice and confusing, just as FIFA like to do, each football confederation can decide on their own qualification format. Briefly this is how it goes:

  • Africa (5 Places) – 52 teams in the preliminary rounds are reduced to 40 teams split into 10 groups of 4 , 10 winners play each other to whittle down to 5 qualifiers.
  • Asia (4 or 5) – Two knockout phases result in 20 teams that are split into 5 groups of 4 followed by 2 group of 5, with winners and runners up of both groups going to the finals. The top runner up gets to go to the inter-confederations play off.
  • Central and North America (4 or 5) – The 6 best of 30 teams that qualify prom the pre-lim rounds get a bye while the other 24 teams compete in 6 groups of 4. This is followed bu 3 groups of 4 with the three victors getting a world cup finals spot and the highest runner up going into the inter-confederations play off.
  • Europe (13) – 53 teams divided into 9 groups, the 9 group winners qualify with the 8 highest runners up competing in a playoff for the final four places.
  • Oceania (0 or 1) – Qualification for this continent changes often but suffice to say in the end just one team gets a place in one of the inter-confederations play off games.
  • South America (4 or 5) – At last a simple one. Here we have one group of ten teams, the top four go to the finals and the fifth placed teams gets an play off slot.
  • Inter-Confederations Play Off (2) – The highest runner up from the Asia and both Americas groups along with the winner of the Oceania qualifying enter this play off. Two matches are played, the winners go to the finals.

Tournament Matches

There will be 64 matches played between 32 teams at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, made up of 48 group games followed by 26 knockout matches.

The 32 national sides are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams.  The top 7 teams in the world (as defined by FIFA rankings) and the hosts are seeded into eight different groups.  The remaining teams are divided into geographically based pots and then drawn randomly to the rule that no group will have more than two European teams or more than one team from any other confederation.

Six games take place within each group with the winner and runner-up progressing to the last 16.  See further up this page for a full schedule of the tournament.

New 48 Team Format

From 2026 the tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, the brain child of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.  This will consist of no less than 16 group of three teams each followed by a 32 team knock out phase.  By my reckoning that will be 80 games to cram into the four-week tournament.

The idea is to open the World Cup spectacle up to more nations, but critics say this is a decision based solely on money.  It’s hard to know until it comes in whether it will devalue the tournament or not but from the early discussions of how the extra 16 places will be allocated most positions will go to established confederations.

Previous World Cup Winners

Host Year Final Result
Quatar 2022 ? ?
Russia 2018 ? ?
Brazil 2014 Germany v Argentina 1-0 (aet)
South Africa 2010 Spain v Netherlands 1-0 (aet)
Germany 2006 Italy v France 1-1 (5-3 pens)
S Korea & Japan 2002 Brazil v Germany 2-0
France 1998 France v Brazil 3-0
U.S.A. 1994 Brazil v Italy 0-0 (3-2 pens)
Italy 1990 W. Germany v Argentina 1-0
Mexico 1986 Argentina v W. Germany 3-2
Spain 1982 Italy v W. Germany 3-1
Argentina 1978 Argentina v Netherlands 3-1 (aet)
W. Germany 1974 W. Germany v Netherlands 2-1
Mexico 1970 Brazil v Italy 4-1
England 1966 England v W. Germany 4-2 (aet)
Chile 1962 Brazil v Czechoslovakia  3-1
Sweden 1958 Brazil v Sweden  5-2
Switzerland 1954 W. Germany v Hungary  3-2
Brazil 1950 Uruguay v Brazil  2-1
France 1938 Italy v Hungary  4-2
Italy 1934 Italy v Czechoslovakia  2-1 (aet)
Uruguay 1930 Uruguay v Argentina  4-2

Home Nations at the World Cup Finals

Country Finals W | D | L Highest Postion Goals F Goals A
England 14 26 | 20 | 16 Winners – 1966 79 56
Scotland 8 4 | 7 | 12 Group Stages 25 41
N. Ireland 3 3 | 5 | 5 Quarter Finals – 1958 13 23
Wales 1 1 | 3 | 1 Quarter Finals – 1958 4 4

Tournament Stats

Tournament Team / Country Player
Goals Total 171 (1998 & 2014), 70 (1930 & 1934) 224 (Germany), 121 (multiple) Miroslav Klose – 16 (Germany 2002-2014)
Goals Tournament 5.38/Game (1954), 2.21/Game (1990) Hungary (27 – 1954), Multiple (0) Just Fontaine – 13 (France 1958)
Matches Played 64 Germany (106) Lothar Matthäus (Germany 25 Matches)
Most Titles / Medals Brazil (5) Pelé – 3 (1958, 1962, 1970)

History of the World Cup

The First World Cups

The first World Cup game along quite late really when you think that international football competitions had been going for over half a century before the first tournament in 1930. England played their first international match against Scotland in 1872 and the first Home Championship (also including Wales and Ireland) followed in 1884.

What happened therefore that delayed a truly international tournament for 50 years or more?

FIFA was set up 26 years before the first World Cup, back in 1904. At that time the biggest, truly international, football competition was held at the Olympics and FIFA’s initial attempt to create a tournament away from the Games in 1906 failed miserably.

The political landscape in Europe over the next 15 years largely prevented any real momentum in starting an inter-continental football tournament until after the first world war.

By 1920 the Olympic movement recognised the amateur football on offer at the Olympics wasn’t suited to the professional teams and players that now dominated the top leagues. They therefore arranged the first proper inter-continental football tournament, consisting of mainly European teams, it was won by Belgium.

The inter-continental tournaments in 1924 and 1928 saw Uruguay come out as gold medalists on both occasions and the popularity of the competition began to rise. FIFA therefore had another go at creating an international tournament and invited Uruguay, as then Olympic champions, to host the new event in 1930.

Jules Rimet, the FIFA president at the time and namesake of the trophy, was integral in the setup of the first tournament, persuading twelve other top nations, including France, to join the event.

The first tournament had 13 teams, with 3 groups of 3 and a group of 4, with the winners competing in a semi-final and then a final, just 16 matches in total. Hosts Uruguay solidified their title as best in the world form the Olympics by also winning the new World Cup, beating Argentina 4-2 in the final in Montevideo.

The 1932 Olympics were held in LA and therefore football was dropped due to a lack of local interest and by the time the 1936 Olympics (yep that famous one in Hitler’s Berlin) another world Cup had taken place, Italy 1934, and all eyes were on the next one in France in 1938. The World Cup had successfully become the greatest international football tournament, beating the Olympics.

The Post War Years

Italy won both the 1934 and 1938 World Cup but the 1942 World Cup was postponed for obvious reasons and the 1946 event was also cancelled as it was more of a priority for nations to clear up the carnage of the second world war first.

In 1950 the FIFA World Cup started up again with its fourth incarnation, this time Brazil playing host and losing the final to Uruguay 2-1.  This was in fact the first tournament to feature an England team, and true to form they were eliminated at the group stage.

At the time, just five years after WWII, the World Cup became a global symbol of togetherness in the background of a heavily divided world in the early days of the Cold War.  This, combined with increasing audiences and television broadcasts and an increasing global presence of football in general resulted in a boom in the World Cup’s standing with ordinary people.

The 1954, 1958 and 1962 tournaments, hosted in Switzerland, Sweden and Chile, were equally successful and witnessed the first two big World Cup heavyweights of the future.  Following defeat in 1950 Brazil finally won the first two of their five Jules Rimet trophy’s in 1954 and 58 before Germany (then West Germany) won the first of their four titles in 1962.

For those in England at least, it was 1966 that kindled a love affair with the trophy that has alluded us ever since.  England hosting for the first, and only time so far, beat their old war rivals Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley.  A feat not matched in over 50 years since.

It was Brazil that came back to dominance in 1970 in Mexico winning for the third time.  For this accolade they got to keep the original trophy and a new one was made, named the FIFA World Cup Trophy, it is still in use today.

West Germany pegged the Brazilians back a little by winning their second Cup in 1974, as hosts, before Argentina, beaten finalists in the first World Cup were victorious, again as hosts, in 1978.

1982 – Increase to 24 Teams

In 1982 the number of entrants into the finals increased by a third, from 16 to 24.  This was in part driven by public demand for a larger more inclusive competition and partly by the commercial side of the World Cup, which had begun to really take off by the 1980’s.

The rising celebrity of football coupled with exponentially more money in the game allowed the World Cup to become a cultural phenomenon during this time.  Suddenly it was about far more than just football, and for the nations that got to host the World Cup it became an opportunity to show off tourism prospects to the globe.

The fact the world has become more peaceful has also helped the World Cup, which for many has become a modern playground for old nationalistic rivalries.

Italy won their third trophy in 1982 in Spain, although unlike when Brazil did it they didn’t get to keep the cup.  Argentina won their second world cup in 1984 in Mexico before West Germany won their third trophy in Italy, 1990, having been beaten finalists in 1982 and 1986.

Brazil then reclaimed their mantle as the top world cup winning team grabbing a fourth tournament win in 1994 in the USA.

1998 – Increase to 32 Teams

By 1998 interest in the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ had easily reached the same heights of the Olympics, if not even further.  Not only was the World Cup one of the biggest National sporting prizes on the planet, the fact the USA were not central to the equation seems to only increase its charm.

The tournament increased in size again for the France 1998 tournament with 32 teams now entering 8 groups of 4 teams.  The first two in each group entering a knockout of 16 teams. France won the World Cup for the first time on home soil beating Italy in a sour tempered final.

Brazil went two clear at the top of the winners chart taking their fifth crown in 2002, the first finals to be held in Asia and the first to be split between two nations, South Korea and Japan.

Germany hosted in 2006 although it was Italy that trumped their party, taking a fourth title, and overtaking Germany’s three cups in the process, beating France in the final.

Spain finally got in on the act in 2010 winning their first world Cup in South Africa, the first tournament to be held in Africa.  They were widely renowned at the time as being the best team in the world having won the 2008 European Championship and then going on to win the 2012 Euros.

Old service was resumed in 2014 when a dominant Germany team claimed their fourth title from 8 final appearances and their fist as a united Germany rather than West Germany.  They famously embarrassed Brazil 7-1 in their own country along the way to winning.

While Russia 2018 promises to be the biggest yet, in terms of money and coverage, it is also the most controversial.  Many will always question how honourable the selection process was and when you combine this with the Russian Olympic doping debacle there is little to suggest it was an honest selection.

Never the less the tournament will go ahead and who will win the first ever Russian World Cup is unknown.  This will be followed by the even more controversial World Cup held in Qatar in 2022.  The event is likely to move to the Winter months and will be played in air conditioned stadiums – If you ever want to see corruption at its worst then this is a classic example of bare faced money grabbing greed at the heart of FIFA – I mean playing football in a desert, WTF.

2026 – Increase to 48 Teams

In some ways, it is surprise it has taken this long for the World Cup expansion idea to take hold.  I think had the FIFA corruption scandal not unveiled itself when it did that this may have happened even sooner.

The decision to expand the World Cup to 48 finalists is largely financial, we can’t hide from this fact, but it will have secondary benefits, such as developing football in countries that wouldn’t usually get there.

The details are still sketchy and it is not fully understood where the extra 16 teams will come for right now.  The proposal is to have 16 groups of three teams, with each team playing twice.  The bottom team will go out and the remaining two teams will then either go straight into a 32 team knockout or they will be entered into a second group based system as we have now (8 groups of 4).

The table below shows how the world cup has grown over its history.

Year Number of Teams Number of Matches
1930 13 18
1934 16 17
1938 16 18
1950 16 22
1954 16 26
1958 – 1970 16 32
1974 – 1978 16 38
1982 – 1994 24 52
1998 – 2022 32 64
2026 – 48 80