No European football team has ever won the FIFA World Cup in South America. Only one South American team has won it in Europe—Brazil.
In fact Brazil is the only team that has won in more than one continent. They are exceptions to the rule that says geography is the biggest factor when it comes to winning football’s top prize.
(Argentina may also claim a similar record if you don’t count the Americas as one continent counting the fact that they won in both Mexico and Argentina.)
In fact the host country winning the cup has happened on six occasions: Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), England (1966), West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and France (1998).
Contrast this with cricket where India broke a long jinx to become the first country to win an ODI World Cup final on home soil only in 2011.
Hosts Brazil and Sweden also reached the finals in 1950 and 1958 respectively. The host team has won 6/8 finals, which is a stellar record indeed.
Chile (third place, 1962) and South Korea (fourth place, 2002) gave their best ever performances on home soil.
The USA, which reached the semis way back in 1930, did not play in the World Cup from 1954-86.
When they hosted the tournament in 1994, they made it to the knockout stage where they went down narrowly to eventual winners Brazil 0-1.
The 2014 edition has not been much different. Three former World Cup holders from Europe: Italy, England and Spain failed to make it to the knockout stage.
While Brazil has won five times, Italy has done so on four occasions.
So the Americas have not surprisingly done really well contributing to half of the knockout stage. Six teams from the South made it to the Round of 16 (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Costa Rica) and two teams from the North (Mexico and the United States).
All the other continents combined to fill the other half.
It is interesting how the “home advantage” is such a strong factor in the FIFA World Cup. That way the performance of Brazil is all the more commendable as they have won in Europe (once), South America (once), North America (twice) and Asia (once).
The only other example of a team winning in totally different continent was Spain in Africa in 2010.
It is no wonder that the bidding to host the FIFA cup is so fierce.
If you make it then not only does your country automatically qualify, but you have a great chance of reaching the knockout stage and a decent chance of even winning the tournament.
If India ever managed the muscle power to host a World Cup, then you can be sure that football in India would get a huge boost and we would start performing much better. However that seems unlikely.
India has finally won an Olympic individual gold and produced a world chess champion, but football seems to be a bridge too far.
Coming back to the FIFA cup, things are not that bleak when it comes to individual performances. The Golden Boot has been won on many occasions by a player from a different country. One example is Gerd Muller of Germany scoring 10 goals in the Mexico edition.
As we head into the quarter finals another German in the form of Thomas Mueller has a chance to get that prize if his team goes all the way.
In the Round of 16, there was just one match between a South American team and a European team and in that Costa Rica beat Greece.
But of the 8 teams left in the quarters, the South American ones have history on their side while the Europeans are fighting an 84-year-old jinx.
There is an interesting possibility of FIFA 2014. If the “home country” and “home continent” advantage holds till the very end, then there is an extremely strong possibility of a Brazil-Argentina final, something that has never happened before.
Now that would be the mother of all battles and emotions would reach breaking point. Imagine Pele and Maradona sitting together and watching that match!