The History of FIFA World Cup Host Elections

FIFA World Cup Host Elections since 1930 – the applicants, the winners and some additional statistics visualized using Tableau Software

© Rainer Sturm /

Most of the Tableau related articles here on Clearly and Simply include how-to-tutorials or workarounds. Today’s post is different.

In the light of recent events, today’s article will be straitened to a very simple, yet hopefully interesting visualization: The FIFA World Cup Host Elections over the course of time. The applicants, the withdrawals, the winners and additional interesting statistics of the football associations in the applying countries, like the number of players, the number of clubs and the officials.

As always including the visualizations for direct access using Tableau Public and the option to download the workbook.

The Data Source

I compiled the relevant data from the following 2 websites: Wikipedia – FIFA World Cup Hosts and FIFA Big Count.

The data coming directly from the FIFA includes some nice additional information on the numbers of players, clubs and officials in all countries. However, please be advised that there is an inaccuracy in using this data: The statistics represent the actual numbers as of today. It is not fully correct to use them in combination with earlier World Cup Host Elections, since the players and club statistics were certainly different back then. Nevertheless today’s numbers should give a good impression of the size of the football associations and the popularity of football in all countries.

FIFA World Cup Host Elections over time on Tableau Public



Use the tabs on top of the visualization to switch between the following three dashboards:

Tab I – Election Results and Hosts over time on a World Map

One option is the drop down list to select any given year. Even more interesting is using the arrows or the slider to “walk” through the development over time. The first map visualizes the results per year. The winner (in red) and all other applicants respectively countries that withdrew their applications. You can easily see that e.g. for the World Cup in 2014 Brazil was the only country that submitted a formal bid.

The second map displays all World Cup hosts over time. Using the slider shows how the FIFA World Cup “discovered” the world over the years and where the remaining blank spots are.

Tab II – Election Results per Country

This highlight table gives a quick overview on which countries applied how often and their results in the election. If you are interested in football, you probably will be able to write down the first column (i.e. the hosts) by heart.

Though, there is some less known information included as well. I – for one – didn’t know that Morocco already applied four times. And – although being German – I also didn’t know that we already applied 6 times (including 2 withdrawals).

Tab III – Players, Clubs and Officials of Hosts and Applicants

Dashboard number III is a very simple comparison of some additional statistics like the number of football players in a country (total, registered and unregistered), the number of clubs and the number of officials. The drop down lets you select the key figure to be displayed. The simple bar charts compare the numbers of the winner (the host), the sum of this figure for all other applicants (excluding the withdrawals) and the metric of the host as a percentage of the sum of all applicants.

Have a look at 1994, for instance. The United States have 24 million football players. All other applicants for 1994 have in total less than 15 million players. And now have a look at the election of the host for 2022. Qatar has 18,000 players in total. Less than one percent of the total number of players represented by all applicants.

The Implementation

As already mentioned in the introduction to this article, I will not provide a detailed how-to here. It’s simply not necessary. The workbook includes nothing new under the sun. Maps, bar charts, a highlight table and some Calculated Fields. From my point of view there are only 2 things worth mentioning:

  1. Show History

    The second map takes advantage of the great new Tableau 6 feature “Show History” as already explained here: Animate Cumulative Data with Tableau 6.

  2. Select the field to be displayed using a parameter

    On Dashboard III a parameter allows you to select which metric should be displayed. Simply use the drop down to choose from all players, registered players, unregistered player, clubs or officials and the view will update the bar charts accordingly. A fantastic interactive feature brought to you by Tableau 6’s new functionality “Parameters”. 

Tableau Public Oddities

Creating the workbook with Tableau Desktop was a piece of cake.

However, publishing it to Tableau Public gave me a hard time. Here are the observations I made during my efforts of publishing on Tableau Public:

  1. Tableau Public seems to have an issue with synchronized page controls on one dashboard if one of the views shows the history and the other one doesn’t. I am not sure whether this is a general limitation or issue or a problem with my specific workbook. I “solved” this problem with a very simple trick. The first map has a tick mark in the “Show History” as well, but the history marks are formatted to make them invisible. Agreed, a primitive workaround. But it does the job.
  2. Tableau Public apparently expects a page control on a dashboard to have a title. There is no option to delete a title of a page control, but you can leave the text empty after selecting “Edit Title”. If you do so, the workbook will still work fine with Tableau Desktop. However, you will hit a roadblock when publishing this to Tableau Public: the page control will not be available and you will see a box with a red X instead. The simple workaround: type in a blank. This solves the problem.

My Personal View on the FIFA Decision

Usually I am refraining from making personal statements here, but this time I can do no other: in my humble opinion, the numbers shown in the visualization above are definitely not the most important argument against the latest FIFA decision. However, they are one more evidence proving how absurd these elections are sometimes.

I can’t argue with Russia as the World Cup host in 2018. The time has come to have a World Cup in Eastern Europe. No doubt about it.

However, giving a FIFA World Cup to Qatar is ridiculous.

I am well aware of the fact that England applied for 2018 and not for 2022. Nevertheless, from my point of view it should have been England, either 2018 or 2022. England in the birthplace of football and the English fans are already waiting for 44 years now. Next chance for England will be 2026, i.e. 60 years after the first and only World Cup ever hosted by England.

It’s a shame. Unfortunately we can’t expect FIFA knowing anything about football. Even worse, we can’t expect FIFA caring about the fans.


Stay tuned. More things on Excel and Tableau coming soon here on Clearly and Simply.

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