My girlfriends and I went to a local bar for a late lunch the other day, but apparently we picked the wrong time to go because we could barely talk to one another. The place was so loud from customers young and old cheering (and sometimes yelling) at the TV screens that were scattered about. When our server came to our table my friend Susan said to him “It’s just a soccer game, what’s the big deal?” He looked at us in disbelief and said “Ladies, it’s the FIFA World Cup – the entire world is watching!”. Susan laughed and said, “well apparently we aren’t part of the entire world!”
Although we picked the wrong time to enjoy our typical meal out with lots of “girl talk”, I decided this might be the RIGHT time to add a second blog, about the World Cup, to our site this month. There was so much more history and information provided on-line regarding this event than I was expecting, so I will do my best to provide an accurate, but brief summary:
The World Cup is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world. It is contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. This soccer championship (referred to as “football” in most other countries) has been held every four years since it’s first tournament in 1930 (except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War).
Teams consists of players representing their own countries who are chosen by each national team’s coach. The qualification phase takes place over the preceding 3 years of each event to determine which teams qualify for the tournament phase. After this, 32 teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation, compete in the tournament phase for the title at venues within the host nation over a period of about a month.
The past 20 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight national teams. Brazil has won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany (current champion) and Italy , with four titles each; Argentina and Uruguay , with two titles each; and England, France and Spain, with one title each. What was most surprising to me is that the 1930 World Cup still represents the United States‘ best ever finish at the event, and their third-place result is still the highest finish by a team outside of Europe and South America.
I do have to add that our server was pretty accurate – the World Cup is the most prestigious association soccer tournament and the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. More than one billion people watched at least part of the 2014 World Cup final, according to FIFA.
Wow….ok so I guess my girlfriends and I are really not part of the entire world when it comes to enjoying soccer. But now I can see why soccer is such a popular sport with all the school children in our country. Good luck to the teams left in the tournament. Hopefully the USA will be able to reach their best result yet in 2022. And after reading so much about the FIFA World Cup, I just might have to watch a game before the tournament ends to see what all the fuss is all about!
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