Hand of God

The infamous “hand of God" goal scored by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England had an unexpected fallout for the Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur, who officiated in that match—he was not picked to officiate in any Fifa competition again.

Mario Zagallo’s cup

The Juve effect: Cabrini (left) and Gentile celebrate Italy’s 1982 triumph. AFP

Missed chances

Karl Heinz Rummenigge has had the misfortune of being the only player to have captained and lost two consecutive World Cup finals. Germany lost in the final in 1982 and 1986 under Rummenigge.

People’s festival

The last World Cup in Germany in 2006 threw up some incredible numbers—3,359,439 spectators watched the matches in stadiums. 85,185 people worked directly for the organizing committee (that excludes the 15,000-strong volunteers). All these people indulged in Germany’s national pastime—drinking beer. About 3.5 million litres of beer was sold outside venues, 1.56 million litres of it was downed inside the stadiums.

Big game, small town

It may be the world’s biggest sporting spectacle, but the World Cup is equally at ease in the world’s tiniest towns. Lugano in Switzerland, which hosted matches during the 1954 World Cup, had a population of 18,400 at the time. Antibes, an artists’ colony on the French Riviera, which hosted a match during the 1938 World Cup, had a population of approximately 12,000 people. The French town of Lens, which hosted several games during the 1998 World Cup, is famous for having had more seats in its stadium (40,000) than residents (30,000, in 1998).

Club or country

During the 1982 World Cup final between Italy and Germany, seven of the 11 players on the pitch for Italy were Juventus teammates—Zoff, Gentile, Cabrini, Scirea, Tardelli, Caussio and Rossi. Italy won the final 3-1.

The World Cup starts in South Africa from 11 June.

Compiled by Rudraneil Sengupta