Every four years it happens and almost the entire world stops to watch (except maybe sports fans in the U.S). No not the Olympics, the World Cup. The 2014 World Cup soccer matches are being held in Brazil this year.
Despite the ongoing FIFA controversy about how the games are run and awarded, an estimated 12.6 million people will be watching. If you are new to the games, here’s some information to get you up to speed.
World Cup basics
Welcome to the 20th World Cup event. Elliott C. McLaughlin wrote “Here are five things to get you ready for the World Cup kickoff” for CNN.com on June 12, 2014, with what those new to the soccer games should know. While the U.S. may show little interest in soccer, the World Cup has been “held every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when it was canceled because of World War II,” McLaughlin wrote.
While the first day of the 2014 World Cup started with host country Brazil facing Croatia, before June 26, all 32 qualifying teams will play three games each in the group stage. From there, teams will be reduced to the 16 best, based on how many points they have garnered. A win nets three points, while every tie earns a team one point.
Only eight countries have won the World Cup. Here’s the breakdown:
- Argentina (two wins)
- Brazil (five wins)
- England (one win)
- France (one win)
- Italy (four wins)
- Spain (one win)
- Uruguay (two wins)
- West Germany (three wins)
Picking the World Cup winner
CBS.com posted on June 12, 2014, “World Cup 2014 predictions: Experts – and animals – pick winner” with insights into which team may take home the grand prize from this year’s World Cup soccer games. The report, with assistance from AP, stated, “Five of six CBSSports.com experts are picking the host nation to be crowned champion at Maracana Stadium in Rio.” Even a loggerhead turtle named “Big Head” weighed in and predicted Brazil would defeat Croatia in the opening match.
Despite the fact that soccer is not as beloved in the U.S. as it is around the world, the sport that all other nations call football does have a following in America. Just don’t expect the U.S. team to win the World Cup. One reason the U.S. has little chance of hoisting the trophy in 2014 is the team was slotted into the Group G, otherwise known as “The Group of Death.”
The U.S. team would have to overcome Germany, Portugal and Ghana to advance. According to the article “Germany is among a handful of favorites,” while Cristiano Ronaldo, considered by many to be the sports best player, is on Portugal’s team. And “Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of the last two World Cups in a row.”
A month before the 2014 World Cup soccer matches kicked off in Brazil, there remained a lot of work to be done. Owen Gibson shared insight into that, as well as some of the FIFA controversy swirling around the 2014 World Cup in “Romance of World Cup in Brazil is peppered with an air of conflict” on May 14, 2014, for The Guardian’s football blog.
Stadiums in São Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiabá were still unfinished in the middle of May. The country wanted to spread stadiums throughout the country so more fans would have a chance to attend a game, however, getting around the large country for outsiders attending the matches could be problematic.
Brazilians are also angry, Gibson wrote because “a new government investigation that found the cost of Brasília’s new stadium has nearly tripled to $900m, largely because of alleged fraudulent billing.” In addition to the building delays and cost over-runs, several men have died during the construction of the stadiums in Brazil. Additionally, controversy is surrounding FIFA’s pick of Qatar as the next host of the World Cup in 2022.
Do you have any interest in soccer? And will you be watching the World Cup? Let us know in the comments.