History of the World Cup

The world’s best soccer teams meet in South Africa this Friday as the 2010 FIFA World Cup begins. Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are the favorites, but, before playing your bets, it only makes sense to look back on past tournaments. Explore your country’s opponents by using the "group" selector below, or just hover over a country of interest.

The World Cup is truly a difficult forum. Of the 76 nations who have played in at least one World Cup, only 8 have winning records. If you use select countries that "Have won a title" (the filter second from the right) you will see that only seven countries have won the finals, all from Europe and South America. The bottom line: it is hard to win the World Cup, especially if you haven't before.

What we like about this viz

Flag icons: With over 70 countries to represent, color or shape encoding would be a complete mess in this visualization. The only way to make any sense of so many values is to encode them with icons, as here.

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