What Is The FIFA World Cup Curse

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Big sporting events like the football world cup and the Olympics are of great interest to sports enthusiasts all over the world. The football world cup is organized after a period of four years. Thirty two teams from across the planet participate in the competition and battle it out in the field to win the most coveted title in the world of soccer. The world cup has always garnered a lot of interest, and there are many myths associated with this event. One such myth is known as the winner’s curse.

What Exactly Is The Curse Of The World Cup?

Many people believe that there is a curse on the defending champions of the trophy because of which they are unable to win in the next season of the world cup. Only two countries have been able to overcome this curse. Italy was the defending champion in 1938, and they won. Likewise, Brazil were the defending champions in 1966, and they won. But the winner’s curse has prevailed for more than five and a half decades, and many people consider this fact while betting on matches.

The end result of mega sporting events is always unpredictable. Many betting enthusiasts like to bet on such events. And if you, too, are interested in betting, you can also bet at home.

How Many Teams Have Been Affected By The Winner’s Curse

The Fate Of Uruguay

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The South American nation of Uruguay was the host and champion of the 1934 world cup. However, they did not participate in the next installment of the tournament in 1938. The defending champion’s refusal to participate was a symbolic gesture to register their protest against what they called the European pride.

When Uruguay hosted the tournament in 1934, many European nations refused to travel to South America and take part in the tournament, so the defending champions refused to travel to Europe in the next installment of the tournament.

Thus, as fate would have it, the South Americans lost a chance at retaining the cup, and the curse of the defending champions gained greater acceptability. Also, it was the first time in the entire history of the tournament that the defending champions did not participate at all.

The Misfortune Of Italy

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The Italian side was fortunate enough to retain the coveted cup for two back-to-back seasons, but they were not so lucky in the year 1950.

The event in 1950 was special in many ways because the biggest event in the world of football was being organized after a gap of almost twelve years. In 1942 most of the countries were offended because Germany was considered a potential host. During the 1940s, the political condition of Europe was very sensitive, and the world was divided into two camps.

One part of the world supported the Nazi rule in Germany, and the other part of the world condemned the atrocities of Hitler. And the event was eventually canceled as the second world war broke out.

The misery and the doom of the second world war continued till 1946, and hence the next installment of the tournament could only be held in 1950. In 1950 the global political scenario had undergone a tremendous change. Most of the Western European nations had suffered a lot due to a prolonged period of war. In 1950 when Italy entered the competition as the defending champions, they had already suffered a lot due to the long years of war.

Apart from this, the most talented players of the side had died in a mishap, and hence the team entered the competition as a wear team. It was not surprising that they crashed out of the tournament in the first group stage itself. Thus, the Italians lost that chance of winning the cup in three back-to-back tournaments of the football world cup.

The Fate Of Brazil

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This South American nation has always been a hot favorite when it comes to winning the tournament. However, they could not avoid the winner’s curse after victories in 1962 and 1966.

Many people attribute Brazil’s loss to the injury of Pele. Pele was a star player, and he was heavily injured during the early matches of the competition. It is often alleged that the European nations ensured that Pele remained injured or out of form so that Brazil could be knocked out of the competition.

Thus, once again, bad luck and South American versus European rivalry solidified the myth of the winner’s curse.

The Case Of Argentina

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Like Brazil, the team from Argentina was a hot favorite to win the competition in the year 1990 after their remarkable victory in the previous session. The team fought very hard; they even reached the finals, but as fate would have it, they eventually lost in the final match.

The Case Of France

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The French side had played terrific football in 1998 when they were the host of the tournament. However, destiny was not on their side when they entered the competition in 2002 as the defending champions.

The team was knocked out in the very first stage, and it is largely attributed to the injury of the key players. The matches were quite surprising as the past winners lost to relatively inexperienced teams like Senegal.


Soccer is a team sport, and a lot of factors change between two installments of the world championship. Many old players might retire, and many young players might join the team in a span of four years. Also, all players are not in great form all the time.

Apart from this, there are geopolitical factors that determine the fate of the teams in the competition. Political symbolism, war, accidents, injuries, etc., have played a role in deciding the fate of the participants.

Moreover, the defending champions have to deal with great expectations when they play; hence they might feel pressured while performing. There can be many reasons attributed to the winner’s curse, but there have been exceptions, and countries like Italy and Brazil have won consecutive tournaments.