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World Cup Facts

Scenes from the World Cup
Scenes from the World Cup Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The World Cup has started once again, this time in Brazil. The World Cup is one of the most popular sporting events since it is viewed among fans from all across the globe. Every four years the World Cup provides riveting entertainment to sports fans. Although many different countries have won the World Cup title, Brazil have consistently won the most—at present they have won five tournaments (Italy are the runners up, having won four times) and are the only team to have played in all 19 tournaments. The World Cup usually lasts about a month (from June to July) and starts out with 32 teams that are narrowed down to two finalists and, finally, a victor.

FIFA is the organization that organizes the World Cup.
FIFA is the organization that organizes the World Cup. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Below are some facts about the World Cup:

• The “Preliminary Competition” phase takes place in the three years preceding each World Cup. At this time teams must compete in qualifying matches in order to be eligible for 31 slots since the host nation automatically qualifies to enter.

• The teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams at the beginning of the tournament. The top two teams in each group advance to the second round—a portion of the games that has only 16 teams. These 16 teams play in successive rounds to reach the final (top two teams compete). There is also a third place game played before the final, where the two teams that lose in the semifinals play to decide who comes in third and who comes in fourth.

• The “Adidas Golden Shoe” award is presented to the top goal scorer at every World Cup finals.

• It is estimated that 3.2 billion people worldwide watched the 2010 World Cup—that makes up 46% of the earth’s population!

• Brazil has won the world cup five times—in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. This makes them the most decorated World Cup team in history.

• The first World Cup took place in July of 1930 in Uruguay.

• In 1942 and 1946 the World Cup was cancelled due to World War II. Play resumed in 1950 and the event has been consistently held ever since.