How Host Nations Have Fared in FIFA World Cup History

How does Qatar's group-stage departure measure up to past host countries' perforamances?


Qatar will head to the sidelines for the remainder of the tournament. 

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is being hosted by a Middle Eastern country for the first time in the tournament’s 92-year history. The host country welcomed 31 other teams, looking for an upset of its own but were left disappointed with an early departure in the group stage.

While Qatar’s time on the pitch is over, it begets the question: How have host nations fared in World Cup history?

Throughout the 22 World Cups that have occurred since the debut event in 1930, only six host nations have won the prestigious trophy on home soil. 

Let’s dive into how all hosts fared in FIFA World Cup history:

1930: Uruguay – Winner

What a way to mark the first ever World Cup. Uruguay hosted and won the 1930 World Cup on home soil after beating rivals Argentina 4-2 in the final. It is also the smallest country to have ever won the tournament. 

1934: Italy – Winner

Italy maintained the good vibes after Uruguay’s triumph four years prior by winning the 1934 World Cup. It beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final. 

1938: France – Eliminated in the quarterfinals

France could not extend the host-nation winning streak to three in 1938. Les Bleus lost 3-1 to defending champions Italy in the quarterfinals. Gli Azzurri would go on to win the 1938 tournament as well. 

1950: Brazil – Eliminated in the final

The 1950 World Cup returned to South America after the 1942 and 1946 tournaments were canceled due to World War II. Brazil drubbed Sweden 7-1 in the quarterfinals and Spain 6-1 in the semifinals but lost in the final 2-1 to Uruguay. 

1954: Switzerland – Eliminated in the quarterfinals

Switzerland’s first and only time ever hosting the World Cup ended in the first round of the knockout stage. After finishing second in Group 4, the Swiss fell to Austria 7-5 in a high-scoring affair. 

1958: Sweden – Eliminated in the final

Sweden’s first and only time hosting the World Cup ended in heartbreak. It made a run all the way to the final only to lose 5-2 to Brazil. That remains its best ever finish in the tournament. 

1962: Chile – Eliminated in the semifinals

Chile also has had just one go at hosting a World Cup, which was another heartbreaking finish. It went up against rivals Brazil in the semifinals but suffered a 4-2 defeat as the Brazilians went on to win the trophy. Chile, though, won the third-place playoff match 1-0 against Yugoslavia.

1966: England – Winner

In 1966, it came home. England won the tournament in its first time hosting it. The Three Lions beat West Germany 4-2 in the final behind a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst.

1970: Mexico – Eliminated in the quarterfinals

Mexico and the Soviet Union had an extremely narrow battle in Group 1, but El Tri finished in second due to goals scored in group play. That meant a quarterfinal draw against Italy, which proved too tough for Mexico. Italy eliminated Mexico after a 4-1 victory. 

1974: West Germany – Winner

Twenty years after winning the 1954 tournament, West Germany won another on home soil. It came back down 1-0 against the Netherlands to win 2-1 in Munich.

1978: Argentina – Winner

Argentina continued the streak during its first time as the host nation. The Albicelestes defeated the Netherlands 3-1 in the final thanks to two extra-time goals. The Dutch lost to host countries in two consecutive years. It marked Argentina’s first ever World Cup title, though it has not hosted since. However, it’s in the race with Uruguay and Chile for a 2030 joint bid

1982: Spain –  Eliminated in the second group stage

The knockout stages operated differently in this era of tournaments. After six groups of four competed in a round-robin style format, the second group stage featured four groups of three for a trip to the semifinals. Spain finished last in Group B of the second group stage. 

1986: Mexico – Eliminated in the quarterfinals

Knockout stages in 1986 were similar to what they are today and some previous tournaments prior to 1982. Mexico made it to the quarterfinals but lost 4-1 to West Germany in a penalty shootout. 

1990: Italy – Eliminated in the semifinals

Italy’s second time hosting the tournament ended just outside of the finals. Italy fell to Argentina 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the semifinals, but beat England 2-1 in the third-place game. 

1994: United States – Eliminated in the Round of 16

After narrowly surviving the group stage, the U.S. fell to Brazil 1-0 in the Round of 16. Brazil would go on to become champions, so the United States’ first time hosting the competition resulted in an early exit. The U.S. will be back in 2026 to co-host the competition with Mexico and Canada. 

1998: France – Winner

France is the sixth and final host nation to have won the World Cup on home ground. It did so by defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final. 

2002: Japan, South Korea – Eliminated in the knockout stage

Japan and South Korea had the honor of being the first ever Asian countries to host the tournament along with being the first ever joint hosts. Both squads finished first in their respective groups, but Japan lost to Turkey 1-0 in the Round of 16. 

South Korea, however, made a deep run to the semifinals but finally fell to Germany in a 1-0 defeat. South Korea avenged Japan by beating Turkey 3-2 in the third-place game. 

2006: Germany – Eliminated in the semifinals

In its first time hosting since West and East Germany merged, Germany made it to the semifinals before losing 2-0 to Italy. It got a consolation prize by defeating Portugal 3-1 in the third-place match. 

2010: South Africa – Eliminated in the group stage

South Africa made history as the first country in Africa to host the World Cup, but it failed to make it out of that year’s “Group of Death” that included Uruguay, Mexico and France. 

South Africa drew 1-1 to Mexico, lost 3-0 to Uruguay and won 2-1 against France to finish third. France stunningly placed last in Group A. 

2014: Brazil – Eliminated in the semifinals

It’s the semifinal matchup numerous fans remember, but for varying reasons. Without its best player in Neymar, Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in one of the biggest lopsided games deep into the tournament in recent history. It shocked fans worldwide, and Brazil also lost 3-0 in the third-place game to the Netherlands. 

After a promising start, it’s a tournament many Brazilians hope to forget. 

2018: Russia – Eliminated in the quarterfinals

After upsetting Spain 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the Round of 16, Russia’s probable Cinderella-run was cut short by the real Cinderella team in Croatia. 

Russia fell by the same score in a penalty shootout to Croatia in the quarterfinals, as Croatia would make a run to the final before falling to France. 

2022: Qatar 

Qatar made its World Cup debut as the No. 50-ranked country against a group that included Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal. 

After opening its World Cup run with a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, the host country got on the board with its first-ever tournament goal against Senegal. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome as they lost 3-1 and became just the second host country to be eliminated in the group stage. In the third and final Group A matchup, Qatar lost to Netherlands 2-0 to finish the group with zero points.

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