Sao Paulo, Brazil is the place to be. There is once again a festive atmosphere in this part of Latin America. Get ready to voice out your support and cheer for your team because it’s time once again for the sport of football to take the biggest stage in the world of sports. Scheduled from June 12 to July 13, the FIFA World Cup 2014 brings you football madness on an international scale. For the country of Brazil, this will be their second time to host the FIFA World Cup, opening their shores once again to 31 competing national football teams from all over the world.
The first ever FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 when FIFA president Jules Rimet decided to organize an international football tournament which will only occur every four years. The first country to host this international tournament was Uruguay and back then, it only catered to 13 teams. The reason behind the small number of participants was the unwillingness of most countries to send their representative teams due to costly travel expenses.
With these 13 teams, four groups were formed which consisted of three or four teams each. In these groups, the teams played in knockout stages wherein four teams will be eliminated. The round winners shall then face each other and make their way through the quarterfinals and semi-finals where the losing teams will be eliminated. After the semi-finals, the two winners from both teams shall face each other in the championship for a chance to win the title.
In the first World Cup, it was Uruguay and Argentina who met in the finals, where the former beat the latter with the score of 4-2. With this victory, Uruguay became the first victors of the FIFA World Cup and at the same time, the first host team to win the title.
Because of the success of the first World Cup, there were several expansions made by the committee, and in the 1934 World Cup hosted by Italy, the first ever qualification stage was introduced. In this process, 16 teams qualified and four groups of four teams each were made to divide them. During that year, Italy came out as the victors of the tournament and became the first European team to win the World Cup. The FIFA World Cup followed this tournament format up until 1982 where they extended the number of teams to 24. Because of this, they decided to add two more groups of four teams each in the tournament format. It was during the 1998 World Cup held in France where they extended the number of teams to 32 teams. As a consequence, FIFA added two more groups of four teams.
Legends and Victors
Through the years, the FIFA World Cup has become the venue where numerous football superstars have emerged. Footballers like Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, and Franz Beckenbauer transformed into superstars because of their outstanding performances in their teams. It was also in the World Cup that football legend, Pelé was discovered and recognized by the whole world as one of if not, the greatest footballer in history. Even up to the more recent World Cups, more and more players have been getting recognized. Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, and Arjen Robben are just some of the players who have inspired the world with their performance in the pitch.
In the past 19 World Cups, only eight countries have been able to taste victory in football’s grandest stage, some more than others. The current record of most World Cups won is currently held by none other than the current host country, Brazil with five victories. Two of these victories were won consecutively. Following Brazil is Italy with four victories and West Germany with three. With two victories, Uruguay and Argentina all further down the list. At the bottom of the list are the countries that have only won one World Cup title namely, England, France, and the recent winners, Spain. What was the common denominator of these teams? Aside from having their share of superstars and talented players in their squad, they also had the massive support of their fellow countrymen which inspired them to excel despite the high level of competition.
What to expect
Just like the previous tournaments, the FIFA World Cup this year follows the same traditional tournament format. With 32 qualified teams, there will be eight groups which are assigned from letters A-H. Each group has at least one South American team or one European team. The groups were decided months prior to the actual tournament. The teams were arranged according to region and were selected through a draw.
With the advancement of technology comes a new feature to ensure referees that they’re making the right calls. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, they have added the camera review system. This was actually introduced prior to the World Cup and has been used in different leagues all around the world. They have basically added high-speed cameras alongside the goal to check whether or not, the ball crossed the line to either go out of bounds or count as a goal.
Above all things, what really raises the level of the anticipation of the fans are the players and squads themselves. Prior to the tournament, there have been countless numbers of speculations regarding the performances of the class of players that will enter the World Cup this year. The most common questions asked is whether the different football giants will come up big once again this year or will they fall to their oppositions. With the different squad changes happening simultaneously every World Cup, it is hard to forecast which team will have an advantage over the other. For this very reason, the World Cup has become one of the most anticipated sports events in the world.
What do you think will happen this coming World Cup in Brazil? Will one of the football giants gain the upper hand once again? Or will an unexpected winner emerge and take the world by surprise? Which team do you think has what it takes to attain football glory?