The History Behind the 'Harry Potter' Quidditch World Cup


This article, and others exploring every room, shack and alley from the Harry Potter books, films and more, is found in Newsweek's Special Edition: Harry Potter—Exploring the Wizarding World.

Every year since 1473, the wizards of the world have gathered to contest the Quidditch World Cup, the single most popular sporting event in the wizarding world—Gobstones championships notwithstanding. But the Ireland-Bulgaria final of 1994 turned that year's location, a previously vacant field at Dartmoor, England, into a campsite, crime scene and setting for a one-in-a-million Irish victory. The reappearance of the Dark Mark was the first overt act of Death Eater terror during the second wizarding war, and Harry Potter unsurprisingly found himself mixed up in it.

In 1877, a World Cup was planned in Kazakhstan and is assumed to have been played, but everyone involved woke up one morning that year to find they had no memory of the event. The Goblin Liberation Front is suspected by some of having sabotaged the event with a mass memory charm.

Though tournaments have been held since the 15th century, the World Cup has only been open to players from all continents since the 17th century, so many historians date the beginning of the World Cup age to the 17th century.

Over the centuries, many strange rules have been necessitated. One of the strangest: "Modification of any part of the referee's body, whether or not he or she has requested such modification, will lead to a lifetime ban from the tournament and possibly imprisonment."

For the PlayStation 2 game Quidditch World Cup, Lee Jordan provides the play-by-play commentary.

The 2014 World Cup featured commentary on Pottermore by Ginny Potter and Rita Skeeter, the former focusing on Quidditch and the latter on the luxury boxes.

The official sponsors of the 1994 World Cup were Butterbeer, Pumpkin juice, Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Nimbus 2001.

This article, written by Senior Editor Tim Baker, was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition: Harry Potter—Exploring the Wizarding World. For more on the vast world created by J.K. Rowling, pick up a copy today.

Harry Potter 3 Cover
Topix Media Lab