The World Cup football tournament has been played since 1930, with a break forced by the second World War, but only eight countries have emerged winners at the 21 competitions.
The 22nd competition kicked off in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar on November 20. The competition is the biggest as far as TV viewership goes, outdoing even the Olympics. It is watched in more countries than the Games.
Brazil have won the trophy on five occasions, the most recent being in 2002, and finished runners-up twice. Germany is next, with four wins, three as West Germany, and one, in 2014, after unification.
Only Brazil has qualified for all 22 tournaments, including the ongoing competition.
Germany did not participate in 1930 and was banned from participating in 1950. The nation has also been runners-up on four occasions.
Technically speaking, Germany’s 1990 win was after the Berlin Wall came down, but official reunification of East and West had not yet taken place.
Italy has won on four occasions, and been runners-up twice, but the Azurri have been erratic in recent years and failed to qualify for the last two competitions. They did not take part in 1930 and did not qualify in 1958.
Uruguay has fallen away as a major force in world football, after the South American nation won two of the first four tournaments; it refused to take part in 1934 and 1938. It failed to qualify in 1958, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1998 and 2006.
France, which won the 1998 and 2018 cups, did not qualify for five tournaments: 1962, 1970, 1974, 1990 and 1994. In 1950, Paris did not qualify, was then invited to participate and accepted, only to later withdraw.
Every time a World Cup draws near, there is a great deal of speculation about how England will fare. Most of this is hot air as it has only managed to win once, in 1966.
England did not take part in the first three cups as it was not a member of FIFA. Thereafter, the team did not qualify in 1974, 1978 and 1994; they made the grade in 1966 as hosts and in 1970 as defending champions.
Spain, the last country to join the select group of winners, did not enter in 1930 and failed to qualify in 1954, 1958, 1970 and 1974. In 1938, it withdrew due to the civil war.
List of World Cup winners:
1954 West Germany
1974 West Germany
1990 West Germany