29¢, 40¢, 50¢ World Cup Soccer S/S
Issue Date: May 26, 1994
City: New York, NY
Printed By: J.W. Fergusson & Sons for Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
For one action-packed month millions of viewers around the globe tuned in to the world’s most popular sporting event as twenty-four teams vied for the championship. Sponsored by the Federation Internationale de Football Association, the World Cup is soccer’s most famous and spectacular international competition.
Proposed by Frenchman Jules Rimet, the first World Cup was held in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930. Since then the competition has been held every four years, except during World War II. Qualifying rounds held two years prior to the event determine which twenty-two teams will join the host nation and the defending champion. Unlike Olympic soccer however, World Cup teams are not limited to amateur players.
For the first time in the World Cup’s 64-year history, the event was held in the United States and to honor the occasion the Postal Service issued three commemorative stamps. Various denominations made mailing letters home easier for the international athletes, coaches, and officials. A souvenir sheet was also issued. Although the 1983 airmail stamp issued for the ’84 Olympics featured a soccer player, this was the first time stamps had been issued to specifically honor the sport of soccer. The world’s most popular team sport, soccer is played in more than 140 countries, from Argentina and Bulgaria to Sweden and South Korea. Games similar to soccer were played in China as early as 206 B.C. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the modern game of soccer was developed.
Soccer as it is played today originated in England and soon spread to other countries. The national sport of many European and Latin-American countries, the game wasn’t popular in the U.S. until the mid-1900s. Today, it is one of the nation’s fastest growing sports.
The object of the game is simple: to score points by putting the ball into the opponent’s goal. Players must either kick the ball or hit it with their head. Only the goalkeepers can touch the ball with their hands. The team that scores the most goals wins.
Each team consists of eleven players - one of which is the goalkeeper, whose main job is to stop shots made on the goal. The defenders (fullbacks) form a line of defense before the goalie. Roaming behind the defenders, a “sweeper” tries to intercept passes and is the last line of safety before the goal.
Midfielders (halfbacks) have the demanding position that requires both offensive and defensive responsibilities. Extreme endurance is needed for this position as a midfielder can run up to ten miles a game. Forwards or “strikers” as they are often called, have the primary responsibility of scoring goals. With the exception of the goalkeeper, which is the only official position, all positions are interchangeable.