END OF THE WORLD
DAILY MIRROR. Banner headline
that topped the London tabloid the
day after England was eliminated in the
qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup
For passion and sheer drama—not to mention number of eyewitnesses—the World Cup is the greatest show on earth. Since it began in 1930 the quadrennial world championship of soccer has grown into a sporting behemoth that, over four weeks, attracts a cumulative global audience of more than 26 billion. Nearly two hundred nations take part in regional qualifying rounds, most of whom have precious little hope of making it into the thirty-two-nation finals; from there, only a handful have a realistic chance of surviving the sixty-four-match battle to lift the World Cup trophy. Here’s a sampling of the legends and lore from the event that has been both blamed for heart attacks and credited with lifting the self-image of entire nations.
“You Brazilians, whom I consider victors of this tournament … you players who in less than a few hours will be acclaimed champions by millions of your compatriots … you who have no equals in the terrestrial hemisphere … you who are so superior to every other competitor … you whom I already salute as conquerors.”
That was a portion of the speech delivered by the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro at the brand-new Maracanã Stadium prior to