When the World Cup comes around every four years, it sparks a frenzy of excitement for football fans across the globe. But for some countries and their residents, it also creates an opportunity to show their support for their national team on an international stage. In the case of Spain and its inhabitants, that meant the chance to prove they deserved to host one of the biggest sporting events on earth. To do so, they had to beat out a handful of other countries with similar ambitions: to become the official hosts of the FIFA World Cup 1982. To understand just how far Spain came in such a short time from its original bid as a host nation to when it happened in 1982, we have compiled a brief history of how it all happened.
The Story Behind the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain
The FIFA World Cup has been around since 1930. The tournament was first hosted by Uruguay, and the last one before Spain was Brazil in 1950. From 1982 to 2010, the World Cup was played every four years. The host of the 1982 FIFA World Cup was Spain, which hosted the tournament for the first time. The last country to host the World Cup was Qatar in 2022. Of the 10 tournaments that Spain hosted, it came in first place three times, second place twice and third place twice. With a population of just under 47 million people, Spain’s hosted World Cup was one of the biggest sporting events to ever be held in Europe. It was also the first World Cup that was played in two countries Spain and Portugal, as they co-hosted the tournament. The tournament was also the first to feature a 24-team format. The FIFA World Cup 1982 was also the first time that Spain had ever hosted a FIFA event.
Before Spain's Bid for the 1982 FIFA World Cup
The history of football in Spain goes back to 1902 when the country’s first football league was established in Barcelona. Two years later, the first national championship was played, and Spain’s first football club was founded in 1905. During the same period, Spain took part in the first international competition, which was the 1906 Intercalated Games. In the years before the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Spain participated in the 1930 and 1950 FIFA World Cups and was also one of the countries selected to host the 1982 World Cup. Spain’s participation in the 1982 tournament was a result of the country applying to host it back in 1973. However, it faced stiff competition from a handful of other countries that wanted to host the tournament, too. This included Brazil, which was the first country to formally announce its intention to host the 1982 FIFA World Cup. It also vied for the tournament against Argentina, Morocco, and Italy. Spain didn’t emerge as the victor right away, but it did manage to make it through to the final selection round against the other countries.
Why Did Spain Want to Host the FIFA World Cup?
The 1982 FIFA World Cup was Spain’s first time hosting a FIFA tournament. Spain was eager to host the tournament because it wanted to show the world that it was an established football nation. It also wanted to prove that it was a modern, first-world country that would be a suitable host for the biggest sporting event in the world. Spain also thought that hosting the tournament would be a great way to promote tourism in the country, as it would allow more people to visit the host country and see the beauty of its cities and landmarks.
The Bid and Its Outcome
In their bid to host the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Spain and Portugal managed to outdo all their competitors. They were selected to host the tournament over Brazil, which had been the first country to announce its bid to host it. It was the only time in history when FIFA decided to break the tradition of alternating between a South American and European nation to host the tournament. The decision to have Spain host the tournament was a no-brainer. The country had proposed hosting the tournament in optimal conditions, with a plan to use 12 stadiums in 10 different cities across the country. It also had a solid infrastructure and was ready to welcome thousands of tourists who wanted to attend the tournament. It was also a matter of prestige at the time since no European country had hosted the tournament since the 1950 tournament in Brazil.
How Spain Prepared for the FIFA World Cup 1982
After winning the bid to host the tournament, Spain immediately began preparing for the tournament. This meant building new stadiums and renovating existing stadiums to meet FIFA standards, building new hotels and other necessary infrastructure, and training the staff and volunteers who would work at the tournament. To help fund the necessary renovations and construction projects that needed to be done before the tournament, Spain imposed a tax on television sets. It also sold advertising space on fences and stadiums, as well as on tickets. Additionally, the government provided financial assistance to the different cities hosting the tournament.