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About 2014 FIFA World Cup
Hallelujah, the wait is finally over. After a never-ending four years, the king of all sporting events is back. Once again, 32 of the best national football teams from around the world, with some of the world’s biggest football stars, will have the opportunity to battle for the title of World Champions and “eternal glory”. The tournament starts on the 12th of June 2014 and the final game is scheduled for the 13th of July 2014. This means that for 32 days, the eyes of the footballing world will be on one and one country only – Brazil, the host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the unofficial mecca of football.
During this period, football fans will be able to enjoy 64 great games played in 12 cities and 12 fantastic venues (well, we all hope they will be ready on time :-)), including the legendary Maracana stadium. The costs associated with the construction and refurbishment of the stadiums are estimated to reach approx. 3,5 billion USD. When this figure is added to the costs associated with construction and refurbishment of the related infrastructure, the total cost of the tournament rises to an astonishing 14,5 billion USD, so it is not surprising that the Brazilian government has been heavily criticised for hosting of the World Championship, especially by local inhabitants most of who live in very poor conditions and face existential problems. Despite the protests, the Brazilian government believes that hosting the tournament will boost the local economy by around 90 billion USD. Furthermore, the new stadiums and infrastructure will also serve the Summer Olympic Games in 2016 which are due to be held in Brazil.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is already the 20th such tournament and the second hosted by Brazil (the first one was in 1950). Brazil “won” the hosting of the tournament in 2007, however, Brazil was also the only candidate for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, since FIFA had decided earlier that the tournament in 2014 would be staged in South America, and there were no competing bids from other countries in the region.
The 2014 World Cup will be the first World Cup to apply the so called goal-line technology – a technology used to help the referees to determine whether the ball has fully crossed the goal line (with the help of electronic devices installed in the ball). Another innovation that will be used during the FIFA World Cup for the first time is the vanishing water-based spray which will be applied by the referees to mark the place where the ball should be placed for a free-kick as well as the ten-yard line for the defending team during a free kick.
2014 FIFA World Cup format
The World Cup is divided into two main parts - the qualification round (also called the preliminary competition), which takes in total three years and determines the final competition participants, and the final competition, in which the 31 qualification winners and the hosting country (together 32 nations) compete over a period of approximately one month for the World Champion title.
The qualification round is actually a series of six individual tournaments held by six FIFA confederations – UEFA (European), OFC (Oceania), CONMEBOL (South American), CONCACAF (North, Central American and Caribbean), CAF (African) and AFC (Asian). Teams with best results in these tournaments qualify for the final competition, the number of successful qualifiers from each of the tournaments is set by FIFA. UEFA and CAF have a guaranteed number of places in the World Cup final competition (13 respectively 5), AFC and CONMEBOL have each 4 or 5 places, CONCACAF has 3 or 4 places and OFC 0 or 1 place in the final competition. The non-guaranteed places are determined by results of play-offs between AFC's fifth-placed team and CONMEBOL's fifth-placed team, and between CONCACAF's fourth-placed team and OFC's first-placed team. A draw determines the pairings between the four teams involved.
The final competition is divided into group stage, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. The teams from the first two places in each group advance to the round of 16. The ranking of each team in each group will be based on the following criteria (the criteria are listed according to their importance for the overall ranking):
- Higher number of points in all group matches
- Goal difference in all group matches
- Higher number of goals scored in all group matches
- Higher number of points in matches between tied teams
- Goal difference in matches between tied teams
- Highest number of goals scored in matches between tied teams
- Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee
In the round of 16 stage, the winners of the groups A, C, E and G will play against the runners-up of the groups B, D, F and H and vice versa. Winners of the round of 16 matches will continue to the quarter-finals (winner of 1A:2B will meet the winner of the 1C:2D game, winner of the 1E:2F meets the winner of 1G:2H, winner of 1B:2A meets the winner of 1D:2C, winner of the 1F:2E meets the winner of 1H:2G) and winners of the quarter-finals advance to semi-finals (1A:2B/1C:2D winner meets the 1E:2F/1G:2H winner, winner of the 1B:2A/1D:2C meets the winner of the 1F:2E/1H:2G). The two semi-finals winners meet in the battle for the World Champion title and the other two teams will fight for the bronze medals.
In the knockout stages, if a match is a tie at the end of the regular playing time, the teams shall play extra time (two periods of 15 minutes) and if no winner comes out of the extra time, the winner will be decided in a penalty kick-out.
2014 FIFA World Cup participants
The qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup started in June 2011 and concluded in November 2013. 203 nations from six continents took part in the qualification, and in total, it consisted of 820 matches. Out of all the senior men's national teams from the 208 Member Associations of FIFA - the sport’s global governing body, 32 have successfully qualified for this year’s World Cup (including Brazil which was granted place in the main tournament as the hosting country). 24 of them were also present at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the only debutant of this year’s World Cup is Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 2014 FIFA World Cup participants are divided into 8 groups with 4 teams playing in each group:
- Group "A" - Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon,
- Group "B" - Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia,
- Group "C" - Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan,
- Group "D" - Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy,
- Group "E" - Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras,
- Group "F" - Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria,
- Group "G" - Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States,
- Group "H" - Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea.
2014 FIFA World Cup mascot
The 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot is called FULECO, and it’s a three-banded armadillo – one of the endangered species native to Brazil. Its name is a combination of the words Football and Ecology. This type of armadillo has the ability to roll up into a very tight, almost impenetrable ball that can evoke a football ball. The Fuleco’s protective shell is meant to represent the natural beauty of Brazil that should be protected and its blue tones shall represent the sky and clear waters in and around Brazil. The mascot was chosen from 47 designs after market research that showed its appeal to the primary target audience – kids between 5 and 12 years of age. The choice of the mascot seems to have been a right one, as 89% of Brazilians were able to recognize it within 2 days of its public introduction.
Brief history of the FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest single sport event in the world. The competition has been played every four years since the first championship was held in 1930, except for years 1942 and 1946 when the tournament was not organized because of the Second World War. The tournament in 1930 had only 13 participants, between 1934 and 1978 the number of participants increased to 16 (except for 1938 and 1950, when it dropped to 15 and 13 respectively). In 1982 the tournament was expanded to 24 teams and in 1998 it reached the current count of 32 participants.
The last World Champion title holder is Spain, who won the previous tournament in 2010 organized in South Africa. The 19 FIFA World Cup tournaments have been won by only eight different national teams. The most frequent winner is Brazil with five World Champion titles, and they are also the only team to have played in every tournament. Brazil is followed by Italy with four titles and Germany, with three. Argentina and the first World Cup winner Uruguay, hold two titles, England, France, and Spain, have won the championship once so far.
The next FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia in 2018, and (probably) in Qatar in 2022.
Source of the illustration picture: © KB3 - Fotolia.com