June 11, 2014
The World Cup? What’s that?
Most Americans do not follow professional soccer leagues, nor soccer matches between national teams. But if you’re only going to know about one such soccer competition, you might as well know about the World Cup.
The 2014 World Cup of Soccer is scheduled to be held from June 12th to July 13th, in Brazil.
The World Cup is the international soccer championship in which national teams compete. Like the Olympics, it takes place every four years.
Before moving to Mexico a few decades ago, I knew almost nothing of the World Cup, but I became familiar with it while residing in Mexico.
I'm certainly not a soccer expert, and I don't follow the sport. But I find the World Cup, given its international flavor, to be interesting.
I especially like to watch the prelude to each game, in which both teams line up on the field and the national anthems of both countries are played.
The World Cup is a month-long international tournament, with 32 national teams participating.
Here are the 32 teams, organized into continental groupings through which they qualify for the World Cup:
1. From the Asian Football Confederation: Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
2. From the CAF, Confederation of African Football: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
3. No teams from the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) qualified.
4. The CONCACAF (Association of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) is represented by four teams: Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.
5. The CONMEBOL is the South American soccer federation, and it has six teams at the World Cup: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and host nation Brazil.
6. The UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the confederation of the European soccer zone, has 13 teams at the World Cup: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and the last Cup’s champion Spain.
Here’s how it works. There are 32 teams, divided into groups of four. At the end of this first round (three games per team), two teams from each group are eliminated and two stay in the tournament. That leaves 16 teams for the second round.
In the next round, with the 16 teams, it's single elimination. If you lose, you're out.
Following the Round of 16 are the Quarter-finals, with only 8 teams.
By the semi-finals, there are four teams left. These teams are paired off, and the two losing teams take on each other for the third-place playoff.
Finally, with all but the final two teams are eliminated, and those two teams fight it out for the World Cup.
Four years ago at the World Cup (held in South Africa), the final game featured the Netherlands vs. Spain. Neither national team had ever won the World Cup before.
During regular game time (consisting of two halves of 45 minutes each), neither team scored. So they had to go into overtime (or as they call it in soccer, 'extra time') and Spaniard Andres Iniesta scored, thus handing the Spanish squad a 1-0 triumph.
The first World Cup was held in 1930. Here is the final tally of all the national teams which have won it through the years, and how many times each has won it: Brazil (5), Italy (4), West Germany (3), Uruguay (2), Argentina (2), England (1), France (1), Spain (1).
The World Cup 2014 games will be held in twelve cities across Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Sau Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Recife, Cuiaba, Manaus, Natal and Curitiba. Brazil is a big country and these cities are really spread out.
The United States team is also participating in the 2014 World Cup. It is in Group G, along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany. The U.S. base camp is in the city of Sao Paulo.
So let the games begin…..
© 2014 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.