The shape of the Football World

Jabulani, the official ball at this year’s Football Worldcup in South Africa is almost making its rounds across the pitch – only a few days to go until the first kickoff. But how much is it a real “World” cup? This map shows, whose game it has been since the first Worldcup in 1930. The countries in this map are resized according to the number of participations in the FIFA Worldcups (including the 2010 Worldcup). This year’s participants are coloured white, non-participants are black. The stars in a country indicate how often this country has won the Fifa Worldcup so far: All former champions are back on stage in South Africa.

A map of all football worldcup participants 1930-2010
Click here for a larger view of the map

Despite having 208 national associations in the Fifa, the map reveals the domination of Europe and South America in the tournament (in participation, as well as in the world cup winners), those regions with football being among the most popular sports. This inequality in the football worldcup can be explained by having a look at how the qualification process is organised: “For each tournament, FIFA decides the number of places awarded to each of the continental zones beforehand, generally based on the relative strength of the confederations’ teams” (see here). The football may be of global significance, but it is far from being a global game. The world map of football looks different than the map of the world…

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