Usually, home advantage gives the nations hosting a World Cup a big boost on the pitch, but that’s not always the case.

While those playing host have ended the tournament as World Champions on six occasions, others haven’t done nearly as well on home turf.

Here are our five worst World Cup host nations ever.

Kazuyuki Toda, Daisuke Ichikawa

Japan couldn’t get past Turkey / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Relative to expectations, Japan didn’t do too badly in 2002, and they’re really only in our top five because of how well host nations usually perform.

Having played three and lost three World Cup matches prior to the edition they hosted along with South Korea, few expected them to get a point, let alone a place in the last 16. But they did just that, thanks to a draw with Belgium and wins over Russia and Tunisia.

That gave their fans hope that they could beat Turkey but they weren’t able to do so, losing 1-0.

Siphiwe Tshabalala

Tshabalala sent Africa wild / Christof Koepsel/GettyImages

Yes, South Africa became the first ever host nation to go out in the group stages in 2010 and frankly weren’t very good, but they were still better than expected.

The Bafana Bafana drew against Mexico and beat France, although the latter result is made less impressive by the fact that the French staff and players were literally scrapping each other at that point.

Siphiwe Tshabalala scoring the first goal of the tournament was without doubt where it all peaked, immediately going down as one of the all-time great World Cup moments.

American Soccer Players Alexi Lalas and Thomas Dooley

At least their kit wasn’t bad / Christian Liewig – Corbis/GettyImages

FIFA hoped that, by having a World Cup there, they could finally break America, making ‘actual’ football popular across the pond, but the quality of the host nation’s team made that somewhat difficult.

They scraped through the group stages as one of the best third-placed sides thanks to a win over a Colombia side that many said was bribed, which says it all.

Brazil then came along and made incredibly light work of the States, marking the end of a disappointing tournament for them. Oh, and Diana Ross missed a penalty in the opening ceremony.

Trevor Francis

Spain try to stop England’s Trevor Francis / Getty Images/GettyImages

Heading into the 1982 World Cup, Spain hadn’t made it past the first round since 1950, and they weren’t much better this time around despite playing host.

They stumbled their way through the first round, rather embarrassingly losing to Northern Ireland and drawing with Honduras but beating Yugoslavia, before crashing out in the second group stage thanks to a loss to West Germany and a somewhat lucky 0-0 draw with England.

Qatar 2022 World Cup XI

The first point-less hosts? / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Most expected Qatar to be the worst World Cup host nation ever, and they look to have lived up to that billing.

They were dreadful in their first match against Ecuador, with a 2-0 defeat flattering them. And while they looked a little better against Senegal, Qatar again never really looked like getting a point in their 3-1 defeat.

With their final match being against the Netherlands, it’s very possible they become the first ever host nation not to claim a single point.


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