Answer to Map #34

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Answer: This dot map depicts the cities that have hosted games of the men’s FIFA World Cup Finals.

In 1930, teams from thirteen countries competed in the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay. The eighteen total matches from that tournament were spread across three venues, all in the capital city of Montevideo. Frenchman Lucien Laurent scored the first-ever World Cup goal in the Estadio Pocitos, a stadium that could fit only 1,000 spectators.

Four years later, the second World Cup tournament took place in eight different cities spread all around Italy. What was different? Well, for one thing, Italy’s fascist leader, Beninto Mussolini, saw an opportunity to gain prestige for his government. Holding games throughout the country meant that more Italians could see how grandly the tournament had been organized. Several of the stadiums had been constructed recently, including Turin’s Stadio Benito Mussolini, which had opened the year before.

Mussolini’s World Cup paved the way for what the event has become in the modern era: an exercise in patriotism. Countries that host the World Cup are generally eager to hold games in as many different parts of the country as possible, no matter the cost. For the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Brazilian Development Bank and the State of Amazonas spent about $270 million to build a 44,000-seat stadium in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon. Visiting teams complained that the weather in Manaus was too hot for soccer.

Japan and South Korea, which jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup, hold the record for the largest number of venues used in a World Cup. Each country provided ten stadiums for the tournament. Almost all of them were brand new.

The national prestige associated with hosting the World Cup has led to considerable corruption. The bidding to host the 2010 World Cup came down to South Africa and Morocco. Either would have been the first African country to host the tournament. In 2015, journalists revealed that South Africa was awarded the hosting rights after FIFA committee members received $10 million in bribes. One newspaper reported that Morocco actually won the hosting vote, but FIFA announced that South Africa had been chosen instead.

Many people who tried to figure out this week’s map were especially helped by Wednesday’s hint, which pointed out that there were dots spread all over England, but not Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. That’s because the constituent countries of the United Kingdom compete separately in international soccer. Accordingly, England—rather than the United Kingdom—was the host of the 1966 World Cup.

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