The Basics of Soccer’s World Cup

The Basics of Soccer’s World Cup

Yes, America, there is a bigger and more popular sporting event than the Super Bowl. It is called the FIFA World Cup. For the rest of the world, this FIFA event is the only real football tournament – the Super Bowl of soccer.
In every corner of the world except the United States, the word “soccer” is used to describe what Americans call “soccer.” It is such a beloved sport that every one of the last 64 matches of the World Cup was watched on TV by an average of 259.9 million people. The 2012 Super Bowl viewership of 111.3 million pales in comparison.
The FIFA World Cup is in fact a multi-year tournament. The month-long finals are held every four years and 2014 is the year of the tournament. Brazil is the host country and 12 of its largest cities will provide venues for various matches that start on June 12 and end on July 13.
Since the last cup in 2010, football teams from around the world have competed in the qualification stage – a series of tournaments that define the final field for 31 teams. (32 teams are already competing, but the host nation’s team is guaranteed).
Once the finalists are determined, FIFA divides the competing teams into eight groups of four each.
When the football teams that make up these groups meet in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, they will compete in a multi-tiered tournament:
In-group competition: The football game kicks off with a long series of matches lasting about two weeks to determine the winning team and runner-up from each group. No one is excluded from the competition until the end of this round. At this point, everyone is vying for a spot in the next stage of the cup. Only the two best teams in each group advance to the Round of 16.
Round of 16: The winning team and runner-up from each group advance to the Round of 16. During this phase, each winning team competes against a runner-up team from a different group. From now on, the competition is said to be in the knockout stage.
Quarter-finals: The eight winners of Round 16 compete in the quarter-finals.
Semi-finals: The four winners of the quarter-finals play in the semi-finals.
Third Place Match: The losers of the quarter-finals compete for third place.
Final Match: The top two teams compete for the FIFA World Cup™ title.