Is The World Cup Winners Curse Real?

By | November 22, 2022

The last three World Cup winners before France in 2018, namely Italy, Spain, and Germany, have all gone out in the group stage of the following FIFA World Cup, following in the footsteps of France in 2002 and Brazil in 1966.

The repeated poor performances of the World Cup holders at the subsequent tournament has raised questions around whether that might be a World Cup champion's curse.

So in this video, ahead of France kicking off their World Cup defence in Qatar, HITC Sevens takes a look at the so-called World Cup winners' curse, the reasons behind it, and what it means for France at this World Cup.


Only eight countries have ever won the FIFA World Cup since the first Finals Were held in Uruguay in 1930 and those They tend to be the favorites going into Every World Cup this world cup is no Exception where despite four time Winners Italy failing to qualify for a Second successive World Cup the other Seven are literally the six favorites to Win it plus Uruguay who are the 11th Favorites and yet the reigning Champions Who you might think would be the most Fancied and best equipped team to defend Their Crown have an absolutely abysmal Record at recent ornaments Italy who won The World Cup in 2006 were atrocious in 2010 finishing bottom of a group which Was made up of themselves Paraguay Slovakia and New Zealand and they have Never really recovered dumped out in the Group stage once again in Brazil in 2014 And failing to even qualify in 2000 and 18 and 2022 this for a country that has Won the World Cup four times had only Previously failed to qualify once in 1958 and hadn't got out in the group Stage since 1974 is a pretty Extraordinary record likewise Spain who Were by far the best team of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa which they Very deservedly won a success that were Sandwiched by consecutive European Championship successes were abysmal just Four years later in Brazil in 2014.

Despite scoring first Spain lost their World Cup opener 5-1 against the Netherlands and a two-nil defeat to Chile in their second game meant that They were eliminated before they had Even played their final group fixture And to make it three from three Germany Who beat Brazil 7-1 on route to winning The 2014 World Cup also went out in the Group stage four years later in Russia In 2018 where they finished dead lasting Group half behind Sweden Mexico and South Korea Germany are the most Consistent team in the history of the FIFA World Cup they have reached eight Finals they've won four of them and 2018 Was their first first round exit since 1938 before the World Cup even had a Group stage and when they lost in a Round of 16 replay against Switzerland If the Germans aren't safe as World Cup Winners then no one is which has led to The theory that perhaps there is a curse On World Cup winners after all even Before Italy in 2010 France suffered a Shock exit in the group stage as Reigning champions in 2002 Brazil went Out in the group stage in 1966 despite Having been champions in both 1958 and 1962 and Italy fell to a similar fate in 1950 following their consecutive Successes in 1934 and 1938 so in today's Video as France prepare to kick off Their World Cup defense in Qatar up

Against Australia Denmark and Tunisia I Thought that it might be worth taking a Look at the so-called World Cup winners Curse whether it is a curse at all the Reasons behind it and whether France are Likely to be its next victims at this World cup Clearly it's very difficult to win Back-to-back World Cups only two teams Have ever done it and not in the last 60 Years namely Italy in 1934 and 1938 the First of which was extremely contentious And Brazil in 1958 and 1962 with Probably the single most talented group Of players that any country has ever had At their disposal the opposition at a World Cup is so formidable the pressure Is so extreme and the margin for error Is so fine that it's not surprising that No team has successfully defended their World Cup Crown since the tournament has Been broadcasting color but that doesn't Explain the shocks group stage exits and Total capitulations to identify the Patterns Behind These failures it is Worth taking a slightly closer look at Each of them on their own Merit starting With France in 2002 which is often cited As being when the so-called curse began For fronts were the best team in World Football at the turn of the Millennium Not just the best in the international Game but the strongest club or national Team side and they are arguably the last

National team that you could make that Claim about in 1998 France won their First World Cup on home soil as an Enormous Wellspring of talent just Seemed to emerge at the perfect time France had one of the youngest squads of The tournament as youngsters like Patrick Vieira Thierry Henry and David Trezegate brought a youthful Zeal to Their squad meanwhile are back four of Toran Blanc Desai and lizarazu is among The most formidable in the entire History of the sport they had a Sprinkling of experience thanks to both Blanc and their Captain Didier deschamp And an all-time great in the form of Zinedine Zidane acting as their Talisman France not only won the World Cup they Conceded just two goals all tournaments Cruising to a three-nil win against Brazil in the final four following Ronaldo's Infamous seizure on the Morning of the game two years later in Belgium and the Netherlands if anything France had an even stronger team at Euro 2000 the back four was still intact and Unchanged and by this stage the likes of The era on Ray and trezegay were bona Fide world-class players and zizu was at The absolute peak of his Palace it is no Surprise then that France became the First country in history to win the World Cup and the Euros back to back and Going into the 2002 World Cup France

Were the joint favorites along with Argentina to make it three from three in South Korea and Japan it seemed to be a Reasonable assessment not only had France won the last euros and World Cup They also won the confederations cup in 2001 topping their group before beating Brazil and Japan in the semis and the Final and the core of their squad Remained unchanged Blanc was gone Replaced by Franklin buff who had Started did forefronts in the final in 1998 anyway due to block suspension Meanwhile Vieira Henry and trazigay were Playing even better at Club level than They had been going into Euro 2000 in Their final warm-up game against South Korea though just five days before their Opening game Zinedine Zidane hobbled off At half time it was the worst possible Start to the World Cup for France losing Their star man as it was confirmed that Zizu would miss at least the first two Games France's opening game which was The opening game of the 2002 World Cup Was also arguably the worst possible Game for them up against a fast frantic An extremely motivated Senegal team Competing in their first ever FIFA World Cup all but three members of Senegal's 23-man squad played their Club football In France France's backline might have Been largely unchanged in terms of Personnel but they certainly looked very

Different in terms of their athleticism All four were over the age of 30. Le Buff and Desai at center-back aged 33 And 34 and they were run ragged by a 21 Year old El juf and a 23 year old Noosa and I Henri and Vieira who brought So much strength speed and intent to Arsenal look dead on their feet and soul The era described himself as having been Cooked in South Korea having played Virtually every game along with Henry in Arsenal's double-winning campaign France Lost the game 1-0 and a red card 40 Arion Ray only 25 minutes into their Second group game against Uruguay meant That they had to settle for a draw in France's final group game against Denmark in which anything other than a Win would see them eliminated zidane Returned but clearly he wasn't at 100 or Even 75 percent and France were well Beaten by the Scandinavians it was a Cocktail of an aging Squad an injury to Their star man and chronic fatigue for Some of their next best players and a Moment of Madness resulting in a red Card that ultimately proved to be lethal For France's World Cup hopes this was Not a bad group of players all of a Sudden even some of France's old guards Still went on to win their group at Euro 2004 and to reached the final of the 2006 World Cup But A Series of Unfortunate Events saw them finish

Bottom of what many are described Pre-tournament as being an easy group Brazil still won the 2002 World Cup and They are the last country to have won The World Cup and not gone out in the Group stage at the following tournament The World Cup cast therefore could be Deemed as being a solely European Phenomenon though that might just be Because European teams have won five out Of the last six World Cups I still think That it is worth taking a little look at Brazil who went into the 2006 World Cup As the tournament favorites and though They did manage to navigate a very easy Group before beating Ghana in the round Of 16 the first time that they came up Against formidable opposition in the Form of 2002 flops France they lost one Nil in a game that was dominated by Zinedine Zidane Brazil had a dizzying Array of talent going into the 2006 World Cup with the likes of Cafe Roberto Carlos caca Ronaldinho Ronaldo and Robinho but as with France in 2002 Several of those star players were we're Nearing the end of their careers Cafe Was 36 Carlos was 33 and there Ronaldo Was only 29 injuries had taken that toll And he was on the verge of leaving Real Madrid a pale shadow of the man who lit Up the 1998 and 2002 World Cups Italy Enjoyed a polar opposite experience to Brazil at the 2006 World Cup which they

Went into being largely unfancied Written off as a country in crisis Following the culture poly Scandal what Those who wrote Italy off for issues Away from the pitch fell to realize was That they had a squad laced with quality Some dubious officiating had seen them Dumped out by the host South Korea in The round of 16 in 2002 but Buffon Canavaro Perlo and Totti formed an Almost Peerless spine and Italy like France in 1998 considered just two goals All tournaments four years later in South Africa though canavaro was still Captain in Italy now aged 36 perlow was 31 and totty had retired nonetheless Italy were gifted not just for the Easiest group at that World Cup but one Of the weakest of all time pitted Alongside Paraguay Slovakia and New Zealand not only did they fail to win a Single game Italy conceded five goals in Three games having conceded just two Goals in seven games in 2006 and they Finished bottom of that group Italy word Searched lethargic and offered no real Attacking intent in South Africa in what Is probably the worst ever showing by a Reigning world champion and it was Described as the nation's biggest Sporting disaster at the time little did They know that they wouldn't even Qualify in 2018 or 2022. whilst France and Italy's group

Stage exits were both shocking the one That took me most by surprise was Spain In 2014 Spain went into that tournament off the Back of three successive major Tournament crowns an unprecedented era Of success for any European national Team and though Barcelona's 2013 and 2014 Champions League exits suggested That perhaps theirs and Spain's era of Dominance was coming to an end the Tikitaka might have been starting to Generate diminishing returns and that The Gigan pressing Germans might just Have started to LeapFrog them they were Still a team that everyone wanted to Avoid Ramos PK and Alba were all still At the peak of their powers at the back As was Sergio busquets just in front of Them though Andres Iniesta was 30 and Xavi was 34. meanwhile Fernando Torres Had suffered a steep slumping form ever Since that moved to Chelsea and there Was just a sense that Diego Costa Naturalized as a Spaniard following his Years with Atletico Madrid didn't quite Fit there still keeper based system and So it proved Spain's game from 2008 Onwards was so dependent upon Suffocating the opposition by not Relinquishing possession of the ball but The Netherlands battered them on the Counter-attack they were too quick and Too direct for a startled Spanish team

And that set the tone for chile to take The game to them once again following That five Wonder fit it was a similar Story with the Germans they weren't the Favorites going into the 2018 World Cup But almost everyone expected them to Progress from a group made up of Sweden Mexico and South Korea after losing one Nil to an energetic Mexico team that ran Them ragged and held firm in their Opening game even a 95th minute winner Against Sweden didn't resurrect Germany's tournaments and the two nil Defeat courtesy of two more injury time Goals against South Korea served as the Final nail in their coffin what almost All of these group stage departures have In common were with a possible exception Of Germany in 2018 is that the World Cup Winners allowed their squads to grow Stale in the four years between winning The tournament and defending their Crown There seems to be an understandable Loyalty that managers have towards the Players who won them the World Cup for Obvious reasons but which results in Them being reluctant or simply unable to Bring fresh blood and inject some Youth And energy into their squads apart from Anything else not only is everyone four Years older which means that players who Were perhaps at their Peak when you won The World Cup no longer are I'm thinking Perhaps of caravaro in 2006 to 2010 or

Jerome boat sang from 2014 to 2018 Inevitably some key players also retire At least from International Football Between the two tournaments Germany went From winning the World Cup in 2014 to Finishing bottom of their group in 2018 But in the space of those four years They they lost their Captain Philip Lam Who was practically faultless in Brazil Their Midfield Talisman Bastian Schweinsteiger who had been integral to Them for the past decade and the World Cup's all-time leading goal scorer in The form of miroslavclasser that isn't Quite the spine of their 2014 World Cup Winning team because lamb played at Fullback but it is certainly three of Their most important players both in Terms of their talent and performances But also their leadership and presence Within the dressing room it is a similar Story with Spain who had lost Carlos Puyol by 2014 Italy who were without Francesco Totti by 2010 and France who Had lost their captain from their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 successes Didier Deschamp by the time that the 2002 World Cup came around in the case of France in 2002 I think that it is telling that at The time the World Cup winners had no Qualification process since they Qualified for the next World Cup Automatically that meant that France had No competitive fixtures with the

Exception of the confederations cup Which is basically a friendly tournament Regardless between the final of Euro 2000 and the opening game of the 2002 World Cup it is notable that Roger Lamar The France boss had taken those two Years as an opportunity to experiment With how his team played in a series of Uncompetitive matches and by the time The World Cup came around and they faced A Senegal team who in the words of Neil Warnock would have been willing to die To get three points they looked Disjointed out fought and outrun the Reigning Champions have had to qualify Since 2006 but since qualifying can be So easy for European nations if they Aren't matched with at least one really Strong side in their qualifying group it Is eminently possible for a rustiness And a complacency to still set in over Those two years perhaps that is one of The reasons why South Americans albeit It is a much smaller sample size haven't Been affected by the World Cup Winner's Curse to quite the same extent since They are constantly going toe-to-toe With the best teams on their continent In meaningful matches of course there is Also an element of in winning the World Cup you become the team to beat and There is an enormous amount of pressure On you a World Cup group stage we also Ought not forget is just three games

It's not like a League season or even a Champions League group stage increasing The odds of an upset and tightening the Margin of error it takes only two off Days a moment of Madness or a couple of Silly errors and anyone can be dumped Out of a World Cup no matter how good You are or what you you achieved four Years ago if it wasn't for Thierry on Rey's red card after 25 minutes in France's second group game against Uruguay in 2002 they would most likely To have gone on to win that game we're Leaving a lot of the pressure ahead of Their final group game against Denmark And who knows maybe then they wouldn't Have rested Dan and they might have even Progressed Spain conceded five goals in The space of just 20 minutes against the Netherlands in a freakish period which Destroyed their cloak of invincibility And almost all of their confidence with It in 2014. suddenly they were beatable And I have no doubt that changed the way In which Chile approached that second Group game against them the tournament Opener is so important for every team And the World Cup winners are no Exception it is no surprise to me that All four of France in O2 Italy in 2010 Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018 all Suffered shock results and shock defeats In three of those instances in their Opening games

So what does all of this mean for France At this world cup in theory it should Mean absolutely nothing curses aren't Real in the Supernatural sense Correlation does not necessarily equal Causation and their circumstances are Different to every defending Champion That has been dumped out in the group Stage including themselves in 2002. Nonetheless it is something that people Will talk about and which will no doubt Be playing on some of their minds and France come into this world cup in just About the worst form out of anyone other Than England and Wales France have won Just one of their last six games and Whilst they have what looks to be an Easy group to progress from containing Two of the tournaments likely whipping Boys in Tunisia and Australia plus more Formidable opposition in the form of Denmark the same could be said for a Number of former winners who fell victim To the curse France also have injuries To a few key players such just Paul Pogba Angola kante and president Kim Pembe along with Christopher and cuckoo Who was injured in one of France's first Training sessions in Qatar and forced to Pull out of their squad oddly I think That some of those could be a blessing In disguise for France forcing them into The Regeneration and swim trust Youngsters unlike many stale former

Winners and the likes of irelia in Shermani and Eduardo kamavinga are Capable of injecting real energy impetus And talents into their Midfield I also Think William Saliba is a better Center-back than president Kim pembe Though whether the Arsenal man will Start for lebla is as yet unclear France Still have the best depth of any National team in the world but it's less Clear as to whether they have the best Starting 11 at this world cup it is Unclear as I say who will start at Center-back Adrian Rabia will almost Certainly start in central Midfield even Though I personally think that France Have extra Alternatives in his position Than him and though Killian and Bape and Karen Benzema are a phenomenal front too In terms of their talent they haven't Yet managed to hit it off together for France lots of French football fans have Questioned whether Didier deschamp is Capable of getting the best out of them Together and there is even talk that he Might start Olivier Giroud ahead of Benzema who just won the Ballon d'Or not Giroux that is Benzema there there Hasn't been as deadly this season or at Least not in the Champions League as he Was last season and since recording that Part of this video benzemara has also Been injured and ruled out of the Tournament making it well not just

Unlikely but certain that he won't Feature and adding to France's injury Problems France are always a team that Seem capable of imploding as we saw most Emphatically of all in 2010 and this World cup is no exception the likes of Gwendozy rabio and Benzema before that Injury ruled him out of the tournament Are all no strangers when it comes to Controversy and Scandals meanwhile some Have accused Killian and Bape of having Been on a bit of a Power Trip ever since The qataris offered him the Earth to Keep him at PSG for another two seasons There is also immense pressure on Didier Deschamps's shoulders following France's Poor performance and elimination at the Hands of Switzerland at Euro 2020 with Zinedine Zidane waiting in the wings and Viewed by many as his successor Following more than a decade in that job It was France who started the World Cup Champions curse as we know it other 2002 World Cup and 20 years on they will be Hoping that they can be the team that Ends it in Qatar that is it for today's Video thank you all very much as ever For watching hit the like button if you Enjoyed it let me know how you think France will perform at this world cup in The comments and why not subscribe and Turn on notifications for the ever Brilliant hrtc sounds you can also find Me on Twitter and on Instagram via the

Username at hitc7s on both and if you're Not quite done listening to me ramble on Just yet I will be leaving a link to my Documentary about the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the end of each of my videos Which means that it should be on your Screen now click on that if you want to Watch it or you know don't if you don't But either way have a brilliant day