1930: Disappointed by the sham amateurism of Olympic soccer, the sport's governing body creates the World Cup tournament. Uruguay hosts the event, attended by none of the European powers. Uruguay defeats Argentina for the title.
1934: Defending champion Uruguay stays home. The tournament, held in Italy and won by same, proves a financial success.
1938: The host nation (France) and the defending champion are awarded automatic entries. Italy defeats Hungary in the final. World War II suspends Cup play.
1950: Host Brazil builds a 200,000-seat stadium but loses to Uruguay, 2-to-1, in an upset. Britain, which had held the event in low esteem, plays in its first World Cup.
1954: Favored Hungary sees its 33-game victory streak snapped by West Germany in the final. Switzerland hosts.
1958: The World Cup receives international TV coverage for the first time. Brazil, with teen-whiz Pele, defeats its Swedish host.
1962: Even though Pele is felled by injury after one game, Brazil prevails over Czechoslovakia. Chile is host.
1966: Hosting the tournament in soccer's birthplace, England defeats West Germany in a final decided in overtime by Geoff Hurst's third goal, the only scoring ``hat trick'' in the final. Pickles, a dog, makes a great save, discovering the stolen World Cup trophy in an English garden.
1970: An ugly qualifying match between Honduras and El Salvador is a flash point that leads to a costly war. Mexico hosts; Brazil defeats Italy.
1974: A regional qualifying format dilutes the field but broadens the event's geographic reach. West Germany is host and champion, beating the Netherlands.
1978: With the score tied 1-1 in the last minute of the final in Argentina, a Dutch shot bounces off a goal post. Argentina scores twice in overtime for the victory.
1982: The field expands from 16 to 24 teams. Host Spain watches Italy defeat West Germany.
1986: Mexico steps in as the tournament host when Colombia withdraws. Argentina defeats West Germany.
1990: Cameroon becomes the first African nation to advance to the quarterfinals. Rough defensive play leads to the lowest goals-per-game average in Cup history (2.21). Italy hosts; West Germany defeats Argentina.