Things have changed since however with the tournament becoming the third biggest global sporting event behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup.
The below graphic shows the total crowd attendance for each of the last six World Cups and how despite the 2011 edition being supported by a 'stadium of four million', the number of bums on seats takes a fall for the first time since 1987.
World Cup attendance since 1987
- 1987 - 604,500 fans
- 1991 - 1,007,760 fans
- 1995 - 1,100,000 fans
- 1999 - 1,750,000 fans
- 2003 - 1,837,547 fans
- 2007 - 2,263,223 fans
- 2011 - 1,560,000 estimated fans