Which Countries Have Hosted the Football World Cup?

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.

World Cups Nation Years Co-Hosted
3 Mexico 1970, 1986, 2026 2026 (with US & Canada)
2 Italy 1934, 1990 NA
2 France 1938, 1998 NA
2 Germany (including West Germany) 1974, 2006 NA
2 Brazil 1950, 2014 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

Russia World Cup
yulyao / Bigstockphot.com

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.

Nation Year Host Status
Switzerland 1954 Sole
Sweden 1958 Sole
Chile 1962 Sole
England 1966 Sole
Japan 2002 Co-host with South Korea
South Korea 2002 Co-host with Japan
South Africa 2010 Sole
Russia 2018 Sole
Qatar 2022 Sole
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.

Year Host(s) Performance Winner
1930 Uruguay Winner Uruguay
1934 Italy Winner Italy
1938 France QF Italy
1950 Brazil 2nd Uruguay
1954 Switzerland QF West Germany
1958 Sweden 2nd Brazil
1962 Chile 3rd Brazil
1966 England Winner England
1970 Mexico QF Brazil
1974 West Germany Winner West Germany
1978 Argentina Winner Argentina
1982 Spain 2nd Group Stage Italy
1986 Mexico QF Argentina
1990 Italy 3rd West Germany
1994 USA Last 16 Brazil
1998 France Winner France
2002 Japan/South Korea Last 16/QF Brazil
2006 Germany 3rd Italy
2010 South Africa Group Stage Spain
2014 Brazil 4th Germany
2018 Russia QF France
2022 Qatar Group Stage Argentina

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!