A history of the online World Cup - USA '94

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 14 June 2006

I've been looking at the online history of the FIFA World Cup, and found that the sites from the previous two tournaments in 2002 and 1998 have been subsumed into the design of the current World Cup site. However, the world wide web presence of the tournament prior to that, the 1994 finals held in the USA, has slipped through the cracks.

Google hosts an announcement about the forthcoming service from usenet.

Official World Cup USA '94 WorldWideWeb Information Server Online

The World Cup USA '94 WorldWideWeb information servers are part of World Cup USA '94 and the World Cup Technology Partners' (Sun, EDS, and Sprint) goal to provide the world's most technologically advanced sporting event in history.

This service continues the success of the Lillehammer Olympic Web server and now provides the first dynamic global online source of information about the world's largest sporting event.

When the games begin on June 17th, the World Cup USA '94 pages will begin to change daily reflecting the current date, that day's events, results and standings. New and different imagery, graphics, and text will enhance this dynamic online electronic news source.

Official results, imagery (game photos), and standings will be updated shortly after each game. Each team's standings and statistics will be updated as the games progress, and the previous days' pages will be accessible to the sports enthusiast.

Initial information about each team, game schedules, historical data, and venues will be available starting June 10th 1994.

The announcement goes on to state:

How and Where to Access (World Cup USA '94 World Wide Web Sites)

This service will be mirrored (or reproduced with the exact same information) in the UK, Norway, Japan, and Germany for easier, quicker, and less costly access. All servers will be updated simultaneously.

Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for the World Cup World Wide Web

North and South America
-------------------------

US http://www.worldcup.com/ Online 6/10/94

Europe
--------

Norway http://wc94.oslonett.no Online 6/10/94
UK http://src.doc.ic.ac.uk/wc94/ Online 6/10/94

The URL for the server in Germany will be provided when it is brought online.

Asia and Pacific Rim
----------------------

Japan http://sunsite.sut.ac.jp/wc94/index.html Online 6/10/94

Of the URLs given, worldcup.com redirects to the current official site for the 2006 tournament, whilst the mirror sites in Norway and the UK no longer exist. However, praise is due to the sysadmins at sunsite.sut.ac.jp, who are still maintaining a working copy of the 1994 World Cup website, the first World Cup to have a website. The front page is still proudly announcing the news that:

Brazil defeats Italy by penalty kicks, a World Cup Final first
USA 94 World Cup homepage

It has everything you would expect from a website for a major sporting event in 1994, including links through to geographical mirror servers, and a prominent call to action to email webmaster@worldcup.com if you experience any technical difficulties.

In many respects though, although looking more primitive, the content isn't that dissimilar from what you'd expect from the 2006 site. There is a map of the country, and guides to the individual city venues.

World Cup 94 venues guide

There are also profiles of the individual teams taking part in the tournament, along with squad "rosters".

Republic of Ireland team profile from the USA 94 World Cup site

England didn't qualify for this tournament, but you can see from this squad line-up featuring all but two of the Republic of Ireland's players being based in England, it was easy for a lot of people in England to rather patronisingly adopt the Republic as a "second team" for the duration of USA 94.

Republic of Ireland squad roster from the USA 94 World Cup site

The match schedule was a little different from what you'd expect today though - as it was made out of one giant GIF image.

World Cup 94 tournament schedule

I think it is great that someone has kept this up and running for twelve years now, a piece of World Cup history which in my view is as important as anything that happened on the pitch in 1994

Keep up to date on my new blog