Sadly, my own national team, Northern Ireland, hasn’t reached the finals since 1982, and despite the recent goal feats of David Healy, doesn’t look like doing so anytime soon.

Here’s the first in a series of posts featuring sport logos, this time showcasing World Cup logos from Brazil 1950 to South Africa 2010. A little trivia, too.

Brazil 1950 logo

Brazil 1950 logo design

The 1950 World Cup was the first to include British participants. British teams withdrew from FIFA in 1920, partly out of unwillingness to play against the countries they had been at war with, and partly as a protest against a foreign influence on football.

FINAL SCORE: Uruguay 2-1 Brazil (there was no actual final this year, and the tournament was decided by a round-robin between four teams, with this match considered the decisive result to crown Uruguay world champions)

Switzerland 1954 logo

Switzerland 1954 logo design

The World Cup was first televised in 1954 and is now the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of the 2006 World Cup (including all of the matches) is estimated to be 26.29 billion. 715.1 million individuals watched the final match of this tournament (a ninth of the entire population of the planet).

FINAL SCORE: West Germany 3-2 Hungary

Sweden 1958 logo

Sweden 1958 logo design

This tournament was won by Brazil, who beat Sweden 5-2 in the final for their first title. The World Cup marked the debut on the world stage of 17-year-old Pelé, who would grow to be considered by many the greatest footballer of all time.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 5-2 Sweden

Chile 1962 logo

Chile 1962 logo design

The competition was marred by overly defensive and often violent tactics. This poisonous atmosphere culminated in the infamous first-round match between host nation Chile and Italy (2-0), known as the Battle of Santiago. Two Italian journalists had written unflattering articles about the host country. Although only two players (both of them Italian) were sent off by the overly weak English referee Ken Aston, the match saw repeated, deliberate attempts from players on both sides to harm opponents, and the Italian team needed police protection to leave the field in safety.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia

England 1966 logo

England 1966 logo design

London’s Wembley Stadium provided the venue for the final, and 98,000 people crammed inside to watch England take on West Germany. BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme’s description of the match’s closing moments has gone down in history, “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over.” (Geoff Hurst scores his third to make it 4-2) “It is now!”.

FINAL SCORE: England 4-2 West Germany (after extra-time)

Mexico 1970 logo

Mexico 1970 logo design

The Brazilian team, featuring the likes of Pelé (who was in his fourth and final World Cup), Carlos Alberto, Clodoaldo, Gérson, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Tostão, is usually regarded as the greatest attacking World Cup team ever. This tournament is still considered by many fans to be the finest World Cup in history.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 4-1 Italy

West Germany 1974 logo

West Germany 1974 logo design

Ninety-eight countries took part in the qualifying tournament, and as usual there were some high-profile failures on the road to the finals. England were among them, having lost out to Poland in their qualifying group. France, Spain and Hungary also failed to reach the finals.

FINAL SCORE: West Germany 2-1 Netherlands

Argentina 1978 logo

Argentina 1978 logo design

A controversial fact surrounding the 1978 World Cup was that Argentina had suffered a military coup only two years before the cup. Because of this, some countries, most notably the Netherlands, considered publicly whether they should participate in the cup. Despite this, all teams eventually participated without restrictions although the Dutch team attended without its star, Johan Cruijff, who refused to participate.

FINAL SCORE: Argentina 3-1 Netherlands (after extra-time)

Spain 1982 logo

Spain 1982 logo design

There was a controversial match between West Germany and Austria in the group stages. Both teams knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. After 10 minutes of furious attack, Germany succeeded in scoring through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. Chants of “Fuera, fuera” (“Out, out”) were screamed by the appalled Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This sham performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans who had hoped for a hot rematch of the 1978 FIFA World Cup match in which Austria had beaten West Germany. One German fan was so upset by his team’s display that he burnt his German flag in disgust. As a result of the outcome, FIFA introduced a revised qualification system at subsequent World Cups in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously.

FINAL SCORE: Italy 3-1 West Germany (Northern Ireland managed to beat host nation Spain 1-0 in the group stages – a very proud moment, even though I was only three years old)

Mexico 1986 logo

Mexico 1986 logo design

Colombia was originally chosen as hosts by FIFA. However, the Colombian authorities declared in November 1982 that they could not afford to host the World Cup under the terms that FIFA demanded. Mexico was selected on May 20, 1983 as the replacement hosts, beating the bids of Canada, and the United States (who eventually hosted the 1994 World Cup), and became the first nation to host two World Cups. This second World Cup in Mexico came only 16 years after the first one in 1970.

FINAL SCORE: Argentina 3-2 West Germany

Italy 1990 logo

Italy 1990 logo design

With its third title (and three second place finishes) West Germany became the most successful World Cup nation for four years, until Brazil won their fourth title in 1994. West German team manager Franz Beckenbauer became the second footballer, after Mário Zagallo of Brazil, to win the World Cup as a player (in 1974) and as team manager. In doing so, Beckenbauer also became the first captain of a winning team to later manage a winning squad. Italy’s Salvatore Schillaci won both the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top goalscorer, with six goals, and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

FINAL SCORE: West Germany 1-0 Argentina

USA 1994 logo

USA 1994 logo design

The average stadium attendance for the tournament was 69,000 while the total attendance was 3.6 million. The 1994 World Cup holds the record for the highest attendance in World Cup history. It was also the highest-attended single sport sporting event in United States history.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 0-0 Italy (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties)

France 1998 logo

France 1998 logo design

For the first time ever, the final featured the host nation and the defending champions. Zinedine Zidane scored two headers from corners in the 26th minute and in first half stoppage time respectively, and Emmanuel Petit added a late goal in second half stoppage time to give France a 3-0 win over Brazil. Brazil’s star player Ronaldo played poorly, having a mysterious fit the night before and many questioned his reinstatement in the starting lineup. An estimated one million people took to the Paris streets to celebrate through the night. France became the seventh world champions, joining Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England and Argentina.

FINAL SCORE: France 3-0 Brazil

Korea Japan 2002 logo

Korea Japan 2002 logo design

For the first time in its history, the World Cup was organized by two countries. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the first held outside South America, Europe, and North America. South Korea and Japan each provided ten stadia, the vast majority of them newly built for the tournament.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 2-0 Germany

Germany 2006 logo

Germany 2006 logo design

Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six populated continents participated in the qualification process which began in September 2003. Thirty-one teams qualified from this process, along with the host nation, Germany, for the finals tournament.

FINAL SCORE: Italy 1-1 France (Italy win 5-3 on penalties)

South Africa 2010 logo

South Africa 2010 logo design

Several non-governmental organisations and poor people’s movements have expressed major concern about plans to regulate the prevalence of squatter camp shelters to improve the image of the World Cup venues. Concerns are particularly acute in Durban where local politicians have promised to ‘clear the slums by 2010’. It has also been argued that it is inappropriate to invest so much public money on stadia when much of the population lacks basic services and housing.

Voting for the official World Cup poster was opened to the public, and I was pleased to see the second option was chosen.

Proposed FINAL SCORE: Northern Ireland 5-0 Brazil (Airey becomes the first player to score 5 goals in a final)

My favourites

Mexico 70 get the thumbs-up. Simple and stylish, albeit obvious. The type treatment isn’t good at small sizes.

Choosing a favourite was almost as difficult as choosing my least favourite, because there isn’t a design that really stands out amongst the rest.

Germany 06 gets the thumbs-down. Design by committee gone horribly wrong. “Put this here. Add that. Don’t forget the…”

It wasn’t easy choosing the worst design, as there are quite a few I don’t like. Some would even be better used as posters than logos, and I guess this was in the thinking during the design stage. If you know of any further info on each design, I’d appreciate you leaving a comment.

What’s your favourite?

Information found mainly on Wikipedia’s FIFA pages


I really don’t like any of them that much.

The font on the Mexico 70 doesn’t really suit it.

I like the Italy 1990 image, but not the font.

The korea japan 2002 is a pretty image and whole. but not really suited for a logo

My favorite would have to be USA 94. The placement of the ball and red stripes to form the US flag is just perfect. At the same time, there’s a good amount of movement created by the blue and red lines.

For some reason though, it reminds me of stamps. Not quite sure why.

The type for the Mexico 70 logo wouldn’t be my choice. And there’s a kind of seeing double with the Italia 90 symbol. I guess movement was somewhere in the rationale.

I like the France 1998 logo because it it simple and eye catching. The text treatment is great as well and matches France’s colour. The rest seem to be very complicated in relation to the France one.

I quite like the France 98 logo, its simple and not to fussy.

Also the BBC intro for World Cup 98 was very cool, shame I can’t find a video for it.

I’m not sure we’ll ever get one that designers agree on. Too many nations wanting their input. Too many audiences designers are afraid of offending, so we end up with logos that are safe, or that try to communicate too much.

I like the West Germany 1974 logo composition. A bald type, the stripes which represents the german flag, a sphere (and a soccer ball) framed by a thick line.

Seems that the recent years made the design works a bit more complicated : The logo have to suffer from extra mandatory mentions like ‘Fifa world cup’, a copyright….

i like the USA 94 one the best — simple and sweet, although i wouldn’t have put the combination of italics and non-italic font on the same line. I agree with the 06 one being too crowded and yes most of them are better on posters than on its own.

Ha ha – the irony of British football protesting at foreign influence….

Anyway, I’ve always liked the Mexico 70 logo – it’s an icon of the 1970’s to me.

Its interesting to see a series of designs like this – as well as trends, you can see how the ‘science’ of logo design has evolved. You can see how designers have realised the importance of clarity and simplicity both in terms of making the logo more instantly recognisable and as they have had to meet the demands of new technology.

I too really dig the 1970 Mexico logo.

But I do dig elements of the 2010 africa logo. Mainly the character and kicking action. although there seems to be some extra elements I would vote to loose. Like the last swoosh element/ with the non-soccer ball, also the blue box is too much for me.

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The outright travesty of Germany’s logo led to a renegade competition to design a better one. Design #9 was spectacular.

And we should also assign some joint blame to Korea and Japan as the result of their logo focusing on the trophy has led to its inclusion in every subsequent Cup logo.

Mexico’s 1970 logotype was a continuation of the typeface used for the ’68 Olympics.


There’s definitely a tendency to over-complicate the two most recent designs, and here’s hoping the need to include the ‘badge’ isn’t a prerequisite from here on in.


I don’t mean being being ‘on posters’, but ‘as posters’. Brazil 50 and Sweden 58 for instance, They look more like a posters than actual logos. Perhaps they were posters. I’m not 100% sure.


Things have definitely gone full-circle with the British. Once again complaining about foreigners in the English game.


When not mountain-biking, are you partial to a few overhead kicks? I agree there are too many elements in the 2010 logo. Ditch the ‘badge’ at least, which is hardly even recognisable at that size.


I remember seeing those Germany ’06 alternatives before, and you’re right about number 9. It’s an interesting take on it. I was sure the Mexico ’70 typeface had been used for another large event, but couldn’t place it, so thanks for the ’68 Olympics reference.


Not sure I understand your question. Do you like the Brazil ’50 design?


I think the Mexico ’70 is the most elegant answer, and while I might not choose the typeface today, I certainly think it was “of the moment.” My runners-up would be Korea Japan ’02 and Italy ’90. Italy did make me think “registration problems” at first but compared to the others, its simplicity grew on me.

I agree with you, Germany ’06 is perfectly awful!



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haha seems I started something. I think if I had to choose one, then Mexico ’70 would have to be it. I know, at least for the SA one, there was the deisgn companies and thena commitee of politicians, sports “heads” and FIFA commitee members who chose from the designs.

the agency behind the deisgn:

From my point of view the 1970-74 and the 1990-98 are at the higher end of the spectrum in terms of quality. But as you say David, it’s like picking the best out of a bad group!

I wonder why there was an insurgence of more simple logo design in the 70’s and 90’s?

I actually had to work on the logo of a soccer cup 10 years ago… the “COPA TOYOTA LIBERTADORES”… and if I can provide an explanation on why the majority of these soccer cup logos are so bad and end up so complicated is because of the process.
You have so many people involved in the decision and they all want to integrate something of their own… it’s almost impossible to get something done. On the top of it we were several designers designing like crazy on each elements to end up with a crappy result… just in the office I was working at the time we were 5 designers to work on it… and took about 2 months to get final validation.
Here what I had provided on my own:
and here the end result
At least my typos, composition and basic shape of the ball got to be kept… but my boss made the south American landmass and the stars around it… We ended up to trying to fit my logo and his logo togoether after receiving Toyota’s feedback. My boss ended up with a headache trying to finalize the logo because nobody was happy with the color.


Good point about the Mexico ’70 typeface being ‘of the moment’.


There’s too much diving in the game, I’ll give you that, but if you played I’m sure you’d have a different opinion. I used to play rugby, but just don’t have the build for it.


Thanks for linking to the agency website for the South Africa logo. I couldn’t find it in their portfolio, or perhaps they just don’t want to include it. I’ve designed a number of identities that I’d rather not show in my portfolio, due to clients thinking themselves to be designers.


It does seem that from time-to-time, design agencies will look at past logos and think they should just do something similar, as is the case with ’78 + ’82, and ’86 + ’90. Like I mentioned, probably going for what they see as the ‘safe’ option.


Nice insight into the process, especially as you’ve worked on a Copa Libertadores logo. I really like the symbol from your 4th design (bottom left), and it’s a shame your boss’ input brought more elements into the mix.

Mexico 86. Loved it then and still do.As a child I had an eraser in the shape of a football top with this logo. I loved that eraser.

Sweet post! I’m with you David, Mexico ’70 is my favorite. I actually like the type treatment for some reason. I’ve seen that logo on t-shirts and track jackets in the past couple years and it’s very nice.

Least favorite? Toss up between US ’94 and W Germany ’74.

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I did a quick image search for that eraser you once had. Sadly I couldn’t find it, but thanks for the story.


There was me thinking the West Germany ’74 was one of the cleaner designs of the bunch. Sure it might appear bland, but it’s scalable, legible, and effective in just one colour. Some of these are just way too over-the-top, such as Spain ’82 – how many flags can you fit in a logo?


Do you come from a print background? I thought of ’90 as a registration error too, having spent some time around commercial print presses.

Shame, was a good, un.

BAck to the logo. Truly, the Mexico ones are very appealaing. The others leave me cold. USA 94 and France 98 are too cold/flat on my eye. Something about the lines in the Mexico designs makes it more pleasing. They both feel more “alive” to me.

My favorites are USA 1994, France 1998, and Korea Japan 2002 respectively. Some of the other ones look more like advertisements than logos. They’re much too busy. USA, France, and Korea Japan are very simple, and with logo design, simplicity is always best.


I hope everything’s going well for you in Japan. Give me a shout next time you’re back in the UK.


You’re very welcome buddy. Good luck with the new project.

I think that was the mascot, Jamie.

I faintly remember that tournament, but didn’t really take much of an interest in football until my early teens. Those were the days when I started playing, and I lost more balls than scored goals. Not much changes.

Italia 90…..I wonder if you put 3-d glasses on, would it jump out at you. Isn’t green and red the two colours used to do that?

Just getting around to reading through this properly now. Excellent topic for a post (not that I’d be biased towards football or anything).

It’s clear that the world doesn’t watch football simply because of some guys ability to market and brand it! It’s watched because it’s the best sport in the world.

As far as my pick of the bunch, I’d lean more towards the ’74 logo, than the ’70.

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I have to go with either the US 94 or France 98 logos. They are clean, simple, elegant, they convey movement, their association with soccer is subtle but clear and they make good use of the colors of the host country.

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Too right people aren’t football lovers for the logos! Interesting that you’d lean more towards ’74. It’s certainly one of the cleanest World Cup logos around.

WHAT is everybody talking about? The Font for the Mexico 70 logo is spot on. Maybe you’re all too young (or too old) but that logo captures the essence of the era superbly. The subsequent world cups have been blighted by over complex design for their logos (The West Germany 74 logo is simple but dull) . Designers have to leave their egos at the door and remember that this is a football tournament and not a UNICEF convention they are trying to represent.

Hi all

for me France 98, and Korea 02 is the best.
as technology developed logos are getting more complicated .becos with the help of good softwares any one can make logos.

logos should be simple and attractive. As world cups are talking about a festival of football ,it should make a festival atmosphere and need to be colourfull. In this case old logos (logos of 70s & 80s)are too formal .


Argentina ´78 is the only logo where you can realize that it`s talking about a world cup. More that it`s also participative, because people can see every participating country… this is the efect a logo must show.
Besides, Argentina displayed the best show for a world cup inauguration ever made.


You mention how latter World Cups have been blighted by over complex design, and I totally agree. Design by committee springs to mind.


I’m not sure why people like the France ’98 logo. It doesn’t do anything for me, but I appreciate you taking the time to comment.


There were 16 countries taking part in Argentina ’78. Do you now suggest that the World Cup logo includes 32 flags? The ’78 and ’82 designs, where flags were shown, are far too complex to be effective.

At least Northern Ireland had Best!

How dare you mention Mexico 86 without even once talking about perhaps the greatest player ever, Diego Maradona, and the most famous goal ever scored by an individual in world cup history.. no, not the one with his hand!.. the other one!…i know its not about the sport so much as it is about the logo.. but… shame ;)

Hello Nido,

Maradona is certainly one of the best ever footballers. He has a lot in common with George Best. They both self-destructed. Now that’s a shame.

I’m not sure if the first logos can be called so at all, Brazil 50 is only a poster, no? Nobody thought that tournament would become such a huge success :) Same with the Sweden 58, I can’t believe that graphic was ever intended to be shown at such small sizes.

Mexico 70 was a homage to the classic Mexico 68 Olympics identity by Lance Wyman, one of the most recognizable ever.

It’s important that these logos are marks for events, thus they have more liberty regarding style. They only have to look good at the time when the event takes place, and if the usage was clear, a more complicated design was also appropriate. Also, there were alternative marks used when the actual was not legible enough, the Mexico 70 for example had a ball forming a zero and a 7 out of the trail.

Germany 74 has a nice type game W/M, and of course the pictograms, Otl Eicher style :)

If I recall correctly, in 78 the official logo were the hands holding the ball, and the graphic shown here was used for promotional posters etc.

USA 94 is nice, and I do like Italy 90’s mark, red and green (and white) representing Italian colors, not the 3d effect :) Might’ve been better without the black facets though.

I agree that recent logos have gone totally mad, particularly Germany 2006 was a disaster.


I agree about the Brazil 50. It’s certainly better classed as a poster than a logo. You seem to have a much better recollection than I do about the 78 event. Probably due to how I was still being conceived at the time (born in 79). ;)

I also agree that the Italia 90 mark would be better without the confusing 3D effect.

Thanks for your input. Great to read your thoughts.

I just want to add a comment about Lance Wyman logo for the Olympics and the type for Mexico 70. Lance took the as an inspiration the art of the indians of the south of Mexico. They create and design any kind of shapes with different threads, that’s why you can see that effect on the logo.
It’s a shame I can’t attach an image to explain better this art.


In the same vein, I stil have mixed thoughts about Euro 2008.

It’s fun & bright, but borders on cartoonish. I know those are supposed to be mountains, but I can’t stop seeing a heart monitor, and increasingly, a gaping monstrous mouth.

I do like the ball. It’s actually an oblong shape and has a lot of motion. Overall, a lighthearted design & nice to look at.

The WM 74 – Logo is my most favourite – it is not full of colours and simple and smart. This was in my opinion a great time of clear typography and design – Germany will rock the EM2008!

I love Mexico 86 for personal reasons. But both Mexico 70s and 80s logos at the time were following examples of designers like Saul Bass and Paul Rand. I Love them!!

Marco, Lava, Ricky,

Cheers for stopping on by. I appreciate it.

Van Hong,

That’s a good post idea – logos of European Championships. Stay tuned.

David, too bad there aren’t so many Euro logos, 60-88 look all the same* :) That leaves 4 relevant logos, which take a very different path than WC logos and only look good on TV. Well maybe they should.

*except the colours were tweaked to match the country’s flag.

Thanks for the insight, nicetype. I’d never really compared the Euro logos that are on offer. Doesn’t sound like I missed much.

Nicetype is right about ’60-’92, with the only exception being a hideous daisy in 1980. It is, however, very “that time,” and I like the ball/flower concept.

1996 onwards are all different, with ’96 and 2012 being the strongest, I think. 2004 almost made me laugh out loud! Wonderful and horrifying at the same time!
Does anyone have any more back story on the concept for it? How was it generally received?

My favorite is France 98. The blue shape on the bottom that looks like the globe and the soccer ball like a rising sun. Pretty catchy.

Thought I’d add my bit. The South Africa 2010 logo you’ve added isn’t actually correct, it’s missing a lot of detail and the colours are incorrect. You can view the correct version here, or on I think the version you’re using was added to “Brands of the World” and has been spreading in the wild ever since.

I’ve also blogged about this in quite some detail!