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The FIFA World Cup was first held in 1930, when FIFA president Jules Rimet decided to stage an international football tournament. The inaugural edition, held in Uruguay in 1930, was contested as a final tournament of only 13 teams invited by the organization. Since then, the FIFA World Cup has experienced successive expansions and format remodeling to its current 32-team final tournament preceded by a two-year qualifying process, involving almost 200 teams from all over the world.

Previous international competitions

The first international football match was played in 1872 in Glasgow between Scotland and England, although at this stage the sport was rarely played outside Great Britain.

However by 1900 the sport had gained ground all around the world and national football associations were being founded. The first official international match outside of the British Isles was played between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo on July 1902. FIFA was founded in Paris on 22 May 1904 – comprising football associations from France, Belgium (the preceding two teams having played their first international against each other earlier in month), Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, with Germany pledging to join.

As football began to increase in popularity, it was contested as an IOC-recognised Olympic sport at the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics, as well as at the 1906 Intercalated Games, before becoming an official FIFA-supervised Olympic competition at the 1908 Summer Olympics. Organised by England’s Football Association, the event was for amateur players only and was regarded suspiciously as a show rather than a competition. The England national amateur football team won the event in both 1908 and 1912.v

There was an attempt made by FIFA to organize an international football tournament between nations outside of the Olympic framework in 1906 and this took place in Switzerland. These were very early days for international football and the official history of FIFA describes the competition as having been a failure.

With the Olympic event continuing to be contested only between amateur teams, competitions involving professional teams also started to appear. The Torneo Internazionale Stampa Sportiva, held in Turin, Italy in 1908, was one of the first and the following year Sir Thomas Lipton organised the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, also held in Turin. Both tournaments were contested between individual clubs (not national teams), each one of which represented an entire nation. For this reason, neither was really a direct forerunner of the World Cup, but notwithstanding that, the Thomas Lipton Trophy is sometimes described as The First World Cup, at the expense of its less well-known Italian predecessor.

In 1914, FIFA agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a “world football championship for amateurs”, and took responsibility for organising the event. This led the way for the world’s first intercontinental football competition, at the 1920 Summer Olympics, won by Belgium. Uruguay won the tournaments in 1924 and 1928

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