Thanks to its storied history, the FIFA World Cup is a goldmine for fascinating facts and memorable moments. And some pretty strange stuff has gone down at the tournament over the years, too. To celebrate the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, we’ve gathered 40 of the weirdest, wackiest, and strangely interesting facts we could find. You’re welcome.
1. The trophy was stolen in 1966
Before England could get their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy at the 1966 tournament, something unthinkable happened. Yes, the iconic prize was snatched after being displayed at a stamp showcase in London ahead of the World Cup’s kick-off. And it gets stranger. In the end, a dog named Pickles randomly uncovered the missing trophy while being taken for a walk in the city nearly a week later.
2. Age is just a number
When Essam El Hadary took to the field for Egypt at the 2018 tournament, he made a significant bit of history. At 45 years of age, the goalkeeper became the World Cup’s oldest player. That’s not all, though. During that same match, El Hadary saved a penalty against Saudi Arabia, too. To borrow a soccer commentary cliché, you really couldn’t write scripts like that.
3. The Zidane headbutt
You’d be hard-pressed to name a more infamous World Cup moment than Zinedine Zidane’s shocking headbutt in the 2006 final. The French icon flattened Marco Materazzi of Italy, leaving the referee with little choice but to send him off. Why did Zidane lose his cool in such a violent way, though? Well, after the dust settled, it was discovered that Materazzi had wound him up with an insult about his sister.
4. Hitting double figures
At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Hungary took on El Salvador. On paper at least, it didn’t look like a fixture that would get the pulse racing. But by the final whistle, it certainly captured everyone’s attention. You see, Hungary won the game 10-1! They’re the first team — and the only one so far — to hit double figures at the tournament.