Qatar proved – sort of! – that being a desert nation with a rather questionable human rights record, and cultural values that do not exactly provide a perfect fit with the values of the average football fan, is no impediment to FIFA deciding (entirely based on merit and with no consideration of money at all, of course) to grant them the World Cup. As such, it should come as no real surprise that Saudi Arabia is to host the 2034 World Cup. Whilst Saudia hosting is not 100% confirmed, they are the only nation that has submitted a bid, so it is now just a case of the formalities. Far be it from us to suggest that nobody ran against Saudi Arabia because everybody knew it was already a done deal and they would simply be wasting their time and money, but some people might hold that view!
Leaving aside what will happen 10 years from now, in this article, we will take a look at all the nations that have hosted the football World Cup thus far. The greatest sporting event on Earth was first held in 1930 and was a rather low-key event back then. There were just three venues used, all in the same city. In contrast, the controversial 2030 World Cup will span three continents!
Nations to Have Hosted Multiple World Cups
In this analysis, we are including all World Cups that have taken place, plus the ones in 2026 and 2030 for which the hosts are confirmed. That gives us 24 editions of this tournament to consider and over the years there have been several nations to have hosted (or are set to host) it more than once.
|3||Mexico||1970, 1986, 2026||2026 (with US & Canada)|
|2||Germany (including West Germany)||1974, 2006||NA|
|2||USA||1994, 2026||2026 (with Mexico and Canada)|
|2||Argentina||1978, 2030||2030 (with Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay & Paraguay)|
|2||Uruguay||1930, 2030||2030 (with Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Argentina & Paraguay)|
|2||Spain||1982, 2030||2030 (with Morocco, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay)|
Including 2026 and the rather bizarre 2030 tournament, the three-continent “extravaganza” that is a real testament to FIFA’s commitment to both sustainability and the experience and convenience of the fans, it is Mexico who have hosted the World Cup more times than any other nation. Given Mexico have never won the World Cup and do not have a domestic league that is especially highly regarded, that is rather surprising.
Football heavyweights Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina, with five, four, four and three wins, respectively, have all hosted the showpiece on two occasions. The fact that the USA will have hosted, including times as co-host, the tournament twice, is a little surprising. But what of the nations to have hosted the World Cup just once?
Nations That Have Hosted or Co-Hosted One World Cup
Once again we are including 2026 and 2030 here and we are giving equal merit to those nations that have co-hosted a World Cup.
|Japan||2002||Co-host with South Korea|
|South Korea||2002||Co-host with Japan|
|Canada||2026||Co-host with USA and Mexico|
|Morocco||2030||Co-host with Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay & Uruguay|
|Portugal||2030||Co-host with Morocco, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay & Uruguay|
|Paraguay||2030||Co-host with Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Argentina & Uruguay|
As we can see, the co-hosting of tournaments has become far more common in recent times. There are two main reasons for this. First, holding a World Cup is incredibly expensive, with Qatar said to have spent $220bn according to several reports. The second reason is that there is far more competition to host the World Cup these days, so splitting the responsibility is a way to keep several nations happy at the same time.
The first World Cup to be hosted by more than one nation came in 2002. In other words, each of the first 16 editions of the tournament was hosted by a single nation. However, including the Japan/Korea event and the next two World Cups, three of the next eight involved at least two, and in the case of the 2030 extravaganza, up to six host nations.
Is Hosting the World Cup a Big Advantage?
It is hard to quantify exactly if hosting the tournament is beneficial and if so, trying to put a value on that advantage is even trickier. There are several variables, not least the strength of the host nation – we doubt many punters will be backing Morocco or Paraguay in 2030. Logic would suggest that being the host must help but offsetting the advantage of home support, limited travelling and familiarity with conditions is the added pressure that being the home nation brings.
All that said, let us look at a complete list of all the World Cups thus far and how the host, or hosts, got on.
|1974||West Germany||Winner||West Germany|
|1982||Spain||2nd Group Stage||Italy|
|2002||Japan/South Korea||Last 16/QF||Brazil|
|2010||South Africa||Group Stage||Spain|
Overall, it would be fair to say that the hosts have done well. They have won the World Cup on six out of 22 occasions, making the final on two other occasions and the semis at a further six tournaments. Put another way, the hosts have made the last four around 64% of the time. All in all, it would certainly seem reasonable to suggest that hosting the World Cup is an advantage but quantifying the size of that advantage is far trickier. But it certainly didn’t do England any harm in 1966!