This Day in History (19-Nov-1969) – Pele scores 1,000th goal

Edson Arantes do Nascimento or Pelé, grew up in poverty. The origin of the “Pelé” nickname is unclear, though he recalled despising it when his friends first referred to him. Pelé signed with Santos professional soccer club when he was 15. He scored the first professional goal of his career before he turned 16, led the league in goals in his first full season and was recruited in the Brazilian national team.

The world was officially introduced to Pelé in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Displaying remarkable speed, athleticism and field vision, the 17-year-old erupted to score three goals in a 5-2 semifinal win over France, then netted two more in the finals, a 5-2 win over the host country. The young superstar received hefty offers to play for European clubs, and Brazilian President Jânio Quadros eventually had Pelé declared a national treasure, making it legally difficult for him to play in another country.

Pelé aggravated a groin injury two games into the 1962 World Cup in Chile, sitting out the final rounds while Brazil went on to claim its second straight title. Four years later, in England, a series of brutal attacks by opposing defenders again forced him to the sidelines with leg injuries, and Brazil was bounced from the World Cup after one round. Despite the disappointment on the world stage, the legend of Pelé continued to grow. In the late 1960s, the two factions in the Nigerian Civil War reportedly agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play in an exhibition game in Lagos.

The 1970 World Cup in Mexico marked a triumphant return to glory for Pelé and Brazil. Headlining a formidable squad, Pelé scored four goals in the tournament, including one in the final to give Brazil a 4-1 victory over Italy. Pelé announced his retirement from soccer in 1974, but he was lured back to the field the following year to play for the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, and temporarily helped make the NASL a big attraction. He played his final game in an exhibition between New York and Santos in October 1977, competing for both sides, and retired with a total of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games, holding ‘most career goals (football)’ record in Guiness World Records. Pelé was named FIFA’s “Co-Player of the Century” in 1999, along with Argentine Diego Maradona.


This Day in History (30-Jul-1930) – The First Football World Cup Crowns a Champion in Montevideo, Uruguay

Beginning at the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp, FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, oversaw the football competition. The popularity of the tournament was evident from the start, motivating FIFA President Jules Rimet even more. Finally, at meetings during late May 1928, members of the governing body agreed to have a world championship, after successfully managing three tournaments at the Summer Olympics. Due to the success of the Uruguayan national team – two-time Olympic champions – and the nation’s upcoming centennial, FIFA governors elected to award the tournament to the tiny nation in South America in 1929.  Funds were immediately appropriated for the construction of a new stadium, the Estadio Centenario, which would end up being the site for a majority of the matches.

Uruguay’s location, however, would end up causing more problems.  Nestled along the central coast of eastern South America between Brazil and Argentina, the travel cost for many nations ended up being too much.  The British, Germans and Italians all baulked at a trip to the Southern Hemisphere, but Rimet only grew more determined to get some European participation.  With just two months to spare before the first match, Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia agreed to send teams by sea.  However the organisers were disappointed that only four European sides had participated. The anger in Montevideo was so intense in fact that four years later, world champions Uruguay became the first and only team to refuse to defend their title.

From the first match, a 4-1 victory for France over Mexico, to the Uruguay’s 4-2 win over archrival Argentina in the final, more than 585,000 spectators packed the venues.  The event was, without a doubt, a hit.  The seven South American, four European and two North Americans put on a show that caught the imagination of soccer fans the world over.



This Day in History (21-May-1904) – Federation Internationale de Football Association (Soccer) forms in Paris

FIFA, otherwise known as the Federation Internationale de Football Association, is the world’s top soccer governing body. Founded in May 21, 1904 in Paris, France, FIFA is responsible for supervising international competitions (such as the World Cup) and safeguarding the sport against negative imagery and its rules against abuse. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Also, that same day, the German Association declared its intention of affiliating through a telegram. England originally snubbed FIFA, feeling that soccer was an English game and should be governed by the English Football Association. England joined FIFA in 1906. The first tournament FIFA staged was the association football competition for the 1908 Olympics in London.

Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1908, Argentina and Chile in 1912, and Canada and the United States in 1913. During World War I, with many players sent off to war and the possibility of travel for international fixtures severely limited, the organisation’s survival was in doubt. It was saved from extinction, but at the cost of the withdrawal of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited an unwillingness to participate in international competitions with their recent World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their membership.

The first World Cup competition came about in 1930 in Uruguay. Now based in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA implements development programs to promote soccer throughout the world. To date, FIFA has 205 member national associations. Helping FIFA in coordinating with the various national associations are six trusted confederations scattered all over the world.  Soccer fans are some of the loudest, most enthusiastic of any sports fans. The world’s largest stadiums are dedicated to the sport of soccer. FIFA recorded more than a billion fans worldwide accessed information about the world cup 2014 through its digital platforms.