The World Cup is the biggest soccer tournament in the world, and from June 11 to July 13 the 2014 tournament is taking place in Brazil.
The spectacle is held once every four years and countries submit a bid to FIFA in hopes to earn the right to host the world’s best soccer-playing nations.
One of the amazing things about the World Cup is that every single country that has a national soccer team is eligible to qualify for the prestigious tournament. The qualification process for this year’s tournament began back in 2011 with 209 countries all competing for the same goal. Slowly but surely the field is trimmed down to 32 teams that will advance to play on the world stage.
Each tournament allows 13 European teams, five from each Africa and South America while Asia sends four, North America and the Caribbean get a total of four teams and there is one wild-card spot up for grabs for a team from any region.
In case you were wondering, yes, Canada has qualified for the World Cup — back in 1982 and they lost all three games in their group, being outscored 5–0 in total.
Once the field of 32 has been set, the groups are drawn for the tournament. There are eight pools of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the playoffs. The teams play all three other teams in their pool, and three points are awarded for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss.
Once the 16 teams have been determined for playoffs, they all have a head-to-head matchup and play one game, winner takes all. Half of the teams are eliminated at the end of each round.
By the end fo the tournament, 208 teams will have been defeated and the champion is left standing, and gets crowned the best team in the world and hold bragging rights for four years.
The usual powerhouses of the tournament include Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands and France. In a surprising twist, three of these teams — Spain, Italy and Portugal — all failed to make it into the playoffs.
Everyone loves a good underdog to root for and this tournament had no shortage of them. Costa Rica defeated Italy and then eliminated Greece in playoffs before ultimately falling short to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
Chile was another surprising team as they beat the defending champion Spain to send them home. Unfortunately, Brazil beat the Chilean squad in an intense shootout to knock them out i nthe first round of playoffs.
Gaining momentum amongst all this World Cup fever is that next summer the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be hosted in Canada.
The women’s national team will be carrying a lot of power after a semifinal appearance in the Olympic tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss to the United States.
The team features legendary striker Christine Sinclair who leads Canada in goals and international games played. Canada looks poised to contend for their first World Cup championship, as they will have home field advantage this time around.
The men’s World Cup championship game will be played on July 13 at 1:00 p.m. on CBC and stream online at CBC’s website.