The Five Best
And what a job they did. Their first World Cup in 1970 was arguably the greatest of all time, mainly because of the Brazil side that won. But '86 more than matched it. The 'Hand of God', 'The Goal of the Century', the best side never to have won the World Cup (Denmark, seriously. Watch the YouTube clips) and an English Golden Boot winner.
The great players are defined by their World Cups, and Mexico '86 was where Diego Armando Maradona staked his claim to the title of Greatest Player of All Time.
The 15th World Cup was held across nine cities in those great United States. Despite misgivings about football not being the national sport, the tournament was a rip-roaring success.
FIFA hoped that staging the tournament in America would lead to a growth of interest in the game, and imposed a condition that a professional league be set up; the MLS duly kicked off in 1996
France got the chance to host its second World Cup in 1998, when the tournament was expanded from 24 to 32 teams, and from 52 to 64 games.
There were some serious issues with fan violence, but on the whole, hooligans were kept under control, and fans mingled in generally positive spirits.
The French public themselves were initially sceptical about hosting the tournament, but became increasingly passionate the further their team progressed. Ultimately winning the competition, and staging a huge street party on the Champs-Elysee's.
A unified Germany won the right to host the tournament for the first time in 2006, albeit contentiously by a single vote from South Africa.
The tournament was a huge success for the country as a whole, and Germany enjoyed an upsurge in patriotic fervour as a result. The visiting supporters from other countries also enjoyed themselves too, with very little violence being reported, and plenty of that famous German beer being drunk.
The Five Worst
FIFA's 1936 conference in Berlin, capital of Nazi Germany, awarded France the World Cup of 1938 in preference of Argentina, who argued, unsuccessfully, that it should alternate between Europe and South America , and then spurned the tournament in protest. When it began, Europe was in turmoil of a looming World War.
The introduction of a straight knock-out was a deterrent for many countries, as they could travel thousands of miles by boat, only to be knocked out after a single game.
Ten French cities hosted the tournament over 15 days. And for the first time, both the holders and the hosts were given automatic qualification.
The first tournament to proceed after the Second World War was held in Brazil. And it was to be the most chaotic and disorganised of them all.
Although the format was changed from a straight knock-out to group based, it was deeply flawed. Groups and venues were not matched, so teams had to criss-cross one of the largest nations on earth, clocking up thousands of miles to fulfill fixtures just days apart from each other.
Staggeringly too, FIFA failed to schedule an actual World Cup final. Though luckily for them , Brazil faced Uruguay in the final game of the pool, and because of previous results, the winner of the game would win the group and thus the cup.
The Maracana stadium, designed to be the showpiece, was still under construction when the final game was played. And yet, a record 199, 854 people still rammed in to the unfinished ground. The game finished 2-1 to Uruguay, and was seen as such a shock in Brazil (a newspaper had published the headline: 'Brazil, Champions of the World' the morning of the game), that over 50 people committed suicide.
Switzerland won the honour of hosting the next tournament in 1954 because it was the 50th anniversary of FIFA, and their headquarters, as they are still, were in Zurich. The country's accessibility made it a good choice, but in other aspects, the challenge was way beyond the Swiss.
FIFA again tried to meddle with the format of the tournament, seeding two teams in the group, but ensuring that they played the two other teams in the group and not each other. It was a blatant recipe for manipulation, and ensured that only the best teams had a chance of qualifying.
The final, too, between Hungary-Germany, was a complete farce. The pitch was an absolute disgrace, with virtually half of it underwater. 'The Battle of Bern' as it would become known, became a kicking match, with Hungary, the best team in the world at the time, being beaten 3-2.
The tournament returned to South America in 1962, with Chile beating off competition from Argentina and Colombia. The choice of host surprised many, with the Chile having very few quality stadia, or any sort of international footballing heritage.
The country was hit by a huge earthquake in 1960, which wrecked many of the stadiums to be used in the tournament. And, in truth, looked like that was still the case two years later.
Cases of corruption within games and over-pricing for accommodation were a constant thorn in FIFA's side.
But the country's notorious military dictatorship, meant that many, including Johan Cruyff and Amnesty International, were opposed to the decision.
There were also major security issues as anti-government guerrillas were active throughout the country, threatening to kidnap many famous names. Luckily, none of the threats were actually put through; but the general atmosphere of conspiracy and corruption was hard to shake off.