The FIFA World Cup in 24 objects

Explore the evolution of the World Cup into a global mega-event, through the collection of the National Football Museum. Click and drag the objects for a closer look!

By National Football Museum

Introducing David Goldblatt

Join football writer and journalist David Goldblatt as he guides you through 24 objects that highlight the drama and the passion of the World Cup.

Kirke-Smith England Shirt (1872-11-30)National Football Museum

#1: Kirke-Smith's 1872 England Shirt

International football began almost half a century before the first World Cup. The newly founded Rugby Union got to international completion first, organising a match between Scotland and England in 1871. Spurred into action the FA put together a hastily assembled England XI of lawyers, stockbrokers and students and sent them to the West of Scotland cricket ground in Glasgow.  There they met local side Queens Park standing in for the Scottish nation. The Scots were in blue, the English in white. This shirt belonged to one of England’s eight forwards that day: Arnold Kirke Smith was the captain of Oxford University’s football team and later a Cambridgeshire vicar. The shirt, presumably, has been washed. The teams played a 0-0 draw on a pitch subject to three days of rain and a twenty minute kick-off delay due to fog.

"Whilst this is completely different from the shirts you'd see today, its still fundamentally recognisable as the same thing..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Stockholm Olympics Poster (1912)National Football Museum

#2: 1912 Stockholm Olympics Poster

The World Cup competition grew out of the commercial and public interest in the Olympic football tournament, although amateur and professional tensions remained. Not all of the countries who competed had national professional leagues and this caused a certain amount of jealousy regarding the letter and the spirit of the amateur laws governing Olympic competition. England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were independent national entities who had made their peace with the professional game. At the Olympics the FA was required to field a wholly amateur Great Britain team. In Stockholm they won their second successive gold medal. Amateurs they may have been, but the very best could still prosper in the professional leagues. Britain’s demi-gods included army officer Harold Walden, who turned out for fun at Halifax, Bradford and Arsenal and scored five goals in the opening game.

"A real sense of motion and excitement..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Argentina's World Cup Final Ball (1930-07-30)National Football Museum

#3: 1930 World Cup Final Match Balls

The 1930 World Cup final played between hosts Uruguay and neighbors Argentina was on the Rio Plata and the latest round of a long running grudge match. The last time the sides had played in Buenos Aries the crowd had stoned the Uruguayan team and the police had arrested their forward Scarone on the pitch. Belgian referee Jean Langenus had asked the Uruguayan government to provide a boat ready to depart from the harbour within one hour of the final whistle. Levels of trust were so low that one half of the match had to be played with the Uruguayan ball and one half with the Argentinean.

Uruguay's 1930 World Cup Final Ball (1930-07-30)National Football Museum

"Old leather, tough old laces...this is the kind of ball you would have used at the very top level..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Argentina's World Cup Final Ball (1930-07-30)National Football Museum

"The arguments were so rancorous that they could only be settled by having a ball from each team; one from Argentina and the other from Uruguay..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

World Cup Italy Programme (1934)National Football Museum

#4: Italy World Cup Programme 1934

Roughly translated the main heading reads, “The table of the race to the final” and next to it is a football graphic that looked like a Futurist manifesto, for a football tournament that was meant to have the sweep and the energy of a rocket or an aircraft wing. Like everything else at the 1934 Italian World Cup this program was designed to send a message to the world about Mussolini’s Italy. From the sleek concrete towers of Bologna’s new stadium to the posters designed by artist Marinetti, to the art deco machinery on the special issue postage stamps, they offered a vision of a modern, technologically advanced Italy sparked into action by fascism. As the disastrous performance Its armed forces would show, this was very wide of the mark, but in football it had a ring of truth. Playing sophisticated modern football Italy were the champions.

"They just don't make football programmes like they used to..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

France World Cup Poster (1938)National Football Museum

#5: 1938 World Cup Poster France

From a historical perspective, World Cup posters provide a fascinating record of the growth of the world’s most popular sport. For the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, posters have been a primary means of visual communication since the early twentieth century. The first three FIFA World Championships were relatively small affairs hosted in 1930 by Uruguay; Italy in 1934 and France in 1938. In Uruguay the only European teams were Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia. Although there were twelve European nations of the sixteen final teams at the second World Championship, hosted by Italy in 1934, the British were notably absent. When Italy retained the title at the third such competition, held in France in 1938, the only non-European teams were Brazil and Cuba.

"For the only time in their history the Italian team removed their famous blue shirts and donned black shirts and gave the fascist salute..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Brazil World Cup Poster (1950)National Football Museum

#6: 1950 World Cup poster Brazil

The Brazilian Football Association conducted an open contest for the creation of a unique poster of the event in 1949. As the number of countries represented at the tournament on the sock indicates, the first World Cup held in Brazil in 1950 showcased the global reach of football more extensively than at any previous point in history. Rio de Janeiro was at that time Brazil’s capital (Brazilia later became capital in 1960). Fans would recognise the clarity of the single leg and boot design with the participating teams itemized on the sock. The poster conveyed the host country’s confidence in completing the logistical challenge of getting teams to Brazil’s big, modern cities including Rio, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande andBel Horizonte. In this heightened atmosphere of carnival and modernity, the 1950 tournament would bring a nation low by expectation when Brazil lost in the final round of matches to Uruguay.

"The 1950 World Cup in Brazil was meant to be a demonstration of the modernisation of Brazil..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

'Miracle of Berne' Swiss World Cup Programme (1954)National Football Museum

#7: 1954 'Miracle of Berne' World Cup Programme

The 1954 World Cup held in Switzerland was the first to be televised and marked a new age in that people would increasingly follow the tournament on screen than rather than through the press and radio. In 1950 the Federal Republic of Germany national team head coach Sepp Herberger opted for Adidas boots, inviting German manufacturer Adi Dassler to travel with the team. When the German team were able to screw in longer studs to counter the rainy conditions in the second half of the 1954 World Cup final against Hungary in Switzerland, Adidas technology achieved mythical status. Underdogs Germany turned a 2-2 first half draw into a 3-2 victory with six minutes to go and this became a significant moment in post war German reconstruction, known as ‘The Miracle of Berne’.

"We will never see anything as small and quaint and ramshackle again..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Jules Rimet Trophy (1930) by FIFANational Football Museum

#8: 1958 Jules Rimet Trophy

When Brazil beat Sweden and lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time, the playwright Nelson Rodriguez wrote “At last, we can kick that stray mongrel complex”. This was redemption from the nation’s terrible defeat at the 1950 World Cup and an expression of the new, proudly mixed-race Brazil. The team carried the trophy on the back of a municipal fire engine through the avenues of Rio to the Presidential Palace. After winning the trophy in 1962 and 1970 the Brazilian football authorities were allowed to keep the cup. In 1983 it was stolen from its bullet proof cabinet. Unrecovered it was almost certainly melted down for its value as gold.

"The original Jules Rimet Trophy was probably melted down for its value in gold..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Chile - Eyzaguirre Boots (1962)National Football Museum

#9: 1962 Eyzaguirre Boots

Luis Armando Eyzaguirre Silva (born in Santiago, Chile on 22 June 1939), played right midfield in the Universidad de Chile football team, known as the Ballet Azul, with which he won four national championships. Eyzaguirre played in the Chilean national team who took third place in the 1962 FIFA World Cup and played one match in the 1966 FIFA World Cup in Sunderland. The seventh World Cup competition in Chile 1962 saw Pele, Garrincha and the Brazilian team secure their second successive World Cup crown, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final. Eyzaguirre played 39 times for his country between 1959 and 1966. The poster for Chile 1962 featured only the ball and the globe, an otherworldly image for a World Cup hosted in the age of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 space programme (launched on 4 October 1957). The first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik broadcast radio pulses from a low elliptical orbit around the Earth.

"These football boots, leather with their little metal studs, speak of another era..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

FA Banquet Menu (1966-07-30)National Football Museum

#10: 1966 World Cup Celebration Banquet Menu

Just a few hours after winning the World Cup at Wembley the England squad were shepherded through a crowd of 6,000 people waving Union Jacks outside the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, West London. Inside the team was presented with a cake decorated as Wembley stadium and then, after cutting it, were sent to the balcony with the trophy and Prime Minister Harold Wilson to greet the crowds. While officials of the FA were present at the banquet with their partners, the wives of the winning team were not allowed in and directed to a nearby burger bar.

"There is something very special about this little bit of cardboard..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

FA Banquet Menu Autographs (1966-07-30)National Football Museum

Signatures from the World Cup winning England squad.

England World Cup Poster (1966)National Football Museum

#11: 1966 World Cup Poster

In design terms, England’s World Cup appeared to be personified by the intensely nationalistic and nostalgic mascot, World Cup Willie. However, behind the friendly, furry façade the tournament saw an unprecedented degree of commercialisation in merchandising and related memorabilia. Even so, the Football Association had such a small promotional budget that posters were integral to the way that the tournament was promoted to the British public. Over 100, 000 were issued including British Transport and Police posters.

"The most interesting thing about this programme for England's World Cup is the waistcoat being worn by the mascot World Cup Willy..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Adidas 'Durlast' Telstar Ball (1970) by AdidasNational Football Museum

#12: 1970 Adidas Telstar ball

Telstar became the name for various communications satellites, roughly spherical in shape, launched from 1962 onwards to relay the first television pictures, telephone calls, fax images and live transatlantic television broadcasts. Because the transmission and receiving equipment on the satellites lacked power, the huge ground antennas often had large cones to enhance broadcasts. Telstar passed into all kinds of popular culture from music to games and comics. The Adidas Telstar football was designed for use in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup tournaments, and its design subsequently became the stereotypical look, itself passing into popular culture. The increasingly modernist design used at this World Cup incorporated pictograms, also evident in the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, as new visual identities increasingly linked artists with graphic sporting communication.

"There seems to be something modern, clean and geometric about the Telstar ball..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Rivelino Shirt (1970)National Football Museum

#13: Rivelino's 1970 Shirt 

At the Mexico World Cup in 1970, Brazil won the Jules Rimet Trophy for the third time by and so it was awarded permanently to the Brazilians. Roberto Rivelino (born 1 January 1946, in São Paulo) was the son of Italian immigrants who became known by his trademark moustache and graceful, attacking midfield ingenuity. Rivellino’s main nickname was Patada Atomica, roughly translated as ‘atomic shot’, but he was also known as the ‘king of the park.‘ Rivelino was most prolific as a player for Corinthians. Between 1965 and 1974 he scored 141 goals in 471 appearances.Thereafter he moved to Fluminese and Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, retiring from professional football in 1981. Rivelino started most games for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup, scoring three goals and was credited by Pele as one of the finest 125 players in the world. In 92 appearances for Brazil between 1965 and 1978 he scored 26 goals. After a short management career Rivelino moved into commentary and punditry.

"The World Cup in 1970 was the very first to be broadcast in colour..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

‘Sport Billy’ Fair Play Trophy (1978)National Football Museum

#14: 1978 'Sport Billy' Fair Play Trophy

Decades after Argentina became the fifth country to win a World Cup on home soil in 1978, many Argentines, including some members of the national squad, are re-examining the overt politicization of the victory. General Jorge Rafael Videla and other junta chiefs had staged a military coup just two year before and used the tournament as a form of propaganda for their ‘Dirty War’ on political dissidents, many of whom became ‘the Disappeared.’ Although it was the first time that the number of national associations entering the World Cup tournament had exceeded 100, the Netherlands led calls for a boycott and both Johan Cruyff and West Germany’s Paul Breitner declared themselves unavailable. The FIFA Fair Play award started out as a certificate given to the team considered to have demonstrated the fairest play during the World Cup tournament and soon graduated into a statue inspired by cartoon character Sport Billy. As well as the gold figurine, the winning country also receives $50,000 worth of footballing equipment for the development of youth squads in their country.

"I find the the Fair Play Trophy, first awarded in Argentina '78, rather difficult to comprehend..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Spain World Cup Poster (1982)National Football Museum

#15: 1982 Spain World Cup Poster

The 1974 FIFA World Cup, the tenth staging of the World Cup, was held in West Germany, including West Berlin. Won by the host nation, who beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the final, the tournament marked the first time that the FIFA World Cup Trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, was awarded. The 1978 World Cup was held in Argentina causing controversy as a military coup had taken place in the country just two years earlier. Spain hosted an expanded 1982 World Cup which featured 24 teams, the first expansion since 1934. Recognising the importance of posters in popularizing the event the organisers commissioned a design by internationally renowned artist Juan Miro. Host venue posters also promoted regional Spanish identities. Official logos, mascots and related merchandise began to proliferate.

"One is struck be the brilliant, eclectic, unorthodox artwork of Juan Miro..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Maradona World Cup Shirt vs England (1986)National Football Museum

#16: Maradona's Shirt 1986

In England Maradona’s shirt from the Mexico World Cup will always been associated with the “Hand of God” goal, a moment of ruthless gamesmanship.  Elsewhere, the shirt is revered as the mantle of the divine. Never has one player been so central to his team’s victory in the tournament. Alongside his brilliant second goal against England, Maradona scored a better one against Belgium and made the decisive pass of the final. When the whistle blew, for the last time in World Cup history, the crowd invaded the pitch. Maradona was the last captain to hold the trophy aloft, surrounded not by FIFA bureaucrats or the global media, but the people who came to see him.

"When I look at this shirt I don't think of the 'hand of god' or the second goal against England; I think of Maradona raised up on the shoulders of the crowd."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Italy World Cup Poster (1990)National Football Museum

#17: Italia '90 Poster

The 1990 World Cup was held in Italy, and here football borrowed and adapted from the narrative of other Italian cultural industries. For example, the soundtrack of Nessun Dorma by Luciano Pavarotti was used as the theme song of BBC television’s coverage and it subsequently reached number 2 in the UK singles chart, becoming subsequently associated with football since then. Referencing the Colosseum in Rome, and the green space of the football field at the heart of Italian culture, the poster is an imposing, monumental design. African countries became more visible as part of World Cup spectacle with Cameroon, reaching extra time in the quarter final, eventually won 3-2 by England. West Germany won the tournament, beating Argentina 1-0 in the final. Mascot Ciao (hello) was a stick man with a football head and an Italian tricolore body. The official match ball was the Adidas Etrusco Unico.

"The first World Cup truly conceived as a television spectacular..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

The English FA's 1990 World Cup Bid Document (1990)National Football Museum

#18: English Football Association 1990 World Cup Bid Document

England, semi-finalists at Italia 90, did better in the football tournament than the hosting tournament. This document may have been long and detailed but England were knocked out in the early rounds; Italy won the final in 1984 at FIFA headquarters beating the Soviet Union by eleven votes to five. Six years and many hundreds of millions of pounds later, Italy put on the biggest World Cup spectacular yet, setting the trend for tournaments to be an exercise in massive infrastructural development and national branding to a global audience.

"It represents all the limits of English football politics..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

USA World Cup Poster (1994)National Football Museum

#19: USA '94 World Cup Poster by Peter Max

The fifteenth staging of the FIFA World Cup in the United States was one of the most controversial but produced a festive atmosphere more directly linked with corporate sponsors. Brazil became the first nation to win four World Cup titles when they beat Italy 3–2 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 0–0 after extra-time, the first World Cup final to be decided on penalties. The total attendance of nearly 3.6 million for the final tournament remains the highest in World Cup history. Peter Max is a German-born American illustrator and graphic artist, known for psychedelic spectra and vibrant color in his work. Max has also been the official artist for numerous major American events, such as the Grammy Awards and the Super Bowl. The 1994 mascot was Striker, The World Cup Pup.

"The largest number of fans at the 2010 World Cup and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be Americans..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

France World Cup Poster (1998)National Football Museum

#20: Coupe De Monde France '98 Poster

The 1998 World Cup was held in France, and had an expanded format featuring 32 teams (and from 52 to 64 matches). Hosts France won the tournament by beating Brazil 3–0 in the final with a young, diverse team of French nationals led by Zinedene Zidane. The competition to design the official poster for the 1998 World Cup was thrown open to all artists and students in France. The winner was Nathalie Le Gall, a 27-year-old artist with no interest in soccer or sport generally. A student at the Montpellier Art School, Nathalie’s approach was to create a design to capture the colour and vitality of football’s biggest event. The poster is meant to represent emotion, sharing and universality. Hand drawn, it has abstracted electronic elements and the pitch is viewed from high up (as was Italia ’90) like looking down from a satellite.

"France '98 was meant to be a celebration of the French state..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Japan:Korea World Cup Poster (2002)National Football Museum

#21: Japan:Korea 2002 World Cup Poster

The 2002 World Cup was the first to be held in Asia; hosted jointly by South Korea and Japan. Posters played a role in promoting themes of friendship, peace and co-operation. The official 2002 World Cup poster was based on the traditional Asian art of calligraphy (brush & ink drawing). The commission was a collaborative piece by Byun Choo Suk from Korea and Hirano Sogen from Japan.The artists spent two days together in the studio, eventually designing a football pitch drawn in thick brushstrokes. There were three computer-generated mascots named by public vote. Ato was chosen as the name of the glowing orange coach character with a cyber goatee and white and purple strikers were known as Nik and Kaz. Note the stylized World Cup trophy as part of the trademark. The new branding strategy allowed for an unprecedented broadcast revenues growth to $789 million increasing to $910 million for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.   

"Over 7 million people occupied public spaces in South Korea to watch their team..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

South Africa Vuvuzela (2010)National Football Museum

#22: South Africa 2010 - The Vuvuzela

The invention of the Vuvuzela is shrouded in myth: Claimants include fans of Johannesburg club Kaiser Chiefs and South Africa’s Nazareth Baptist Church. Either way, plastic manufacturers were turning them out in their thousands by the late 1990s and they became a standard feature of South African football. Blown by a skilled individual the Vuvuzela is capable of a range of tones and pitches, but en masse the sound coalesces around a fuzzy high-pitched buzz. Experiencing the Vuvuzela for the first time was not to everyone’s liking. Players, visiting fans and TV executives, protested, bought ear plugs and tried to filter the audio track from the stadium, Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, defended the Vuvuzela: “Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound”.

"Inside the stadium the Vuvuzela produced a very different kind of sound..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Panini's 2011 Women's World Cup Sticker Album (2011)National Football Museum

#23: Panini Sticker Album - Women's World Cup 2011

Like World Cup Barbie, the Panini stickers are part of the wider collectables market signalling the increasing appeal of women’s football globally. Social media has also become more important for fans to communicate with players and other supporters. The final of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup between Japan and the USA broke records at the time for the most tweets per second. This meant that every second 7,196 people were talking about the match, eclipsing the wedding of Prince William and Kate and the death of Osama bin Laden. Arsenal women’s team, who play in the FA Super League, doubled its Twitter Followers to 61,808 between October 2012 and September 2013. This trend looks set to continue. Twitter users send 200 million tweets per day, compared to 10 million two years ago. Both the U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be held in Canada and the U-17 Women’s World Cup will be held in Costa Rica in 2014 for the first time.

Panini's 2011 Women's World Cup Stickers (1) (2011)National Football Museum

Panini's 2011 Women's World Cup Stickers (2) (2011)National Football Museum

"Looking at the Women's World Cup Panini Sticker collection gives me mixed emotions..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

Justin Fashanu World CupNational Football Museum

#24: Justin Fashanu World Cup

Where once there was just one World Cup, now there are many. In 2003 a global network of NGOs who ran football and social work programmes came together to create the annual Homeless World Cup. In 2006 FIFI - the Federation of International Football Independents – for all the nations, regions and people who cannot get FIFA membership - held their first World Cup. Anti racism world cups are held in Italy and Northern Ireland. This glammed-up World Cup trophy is the Justin Fashanu Cup. It is named in honour of the English-Nigerian football player who tragically committed suicide before the papers revealed that he was gay. The competition brings together teams who want to celebrate the LGBT community’s place in football and challenge homophobia.

"How appropriate we should have such a trophy for the Justin Fashanu Cup..."

David Goldblatt, Football Writer

National Football MuseumNational Football Museum

Visit the National Football Museum...

Come and see these exhibits for real at the National Football Museum in Manchester, UK.  National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG

Credits: Story

Thanks to David Goldblatt, Jean Williams and the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, Leicester.

This exhibit was digitally curated and filmed for the National Football Museum by Imran Azam - @moiazam.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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