The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Brazil, and as it is the world’s biggest sporting event, there’s no doubt you’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. But that doesn’t mean that the process of finding the next World Champion soccer team is a simple one. Here, we break it down for you.
How it works
While the host nation is automatically granted a berth, close to 200 other countries compete over the course of three years to be one of the 32 teams that make it to the “group stage.”
Then, these 32 teams are broken into eight groups of four. Each team plays the other three teams in its group once. Three points are awarded for each win, one point for a tie and zero for a loss. The 16 teams that earn the most points at this stage will advance to the single-elimination round. In this round, no ties are allowed—if a match ends in a draw, two extra 15-minute periods are played. If the score is still tied after the extra 30 minutes, five players from each team compete in a shoot out.
As the tournament progresses, 16 teams become eight, then four, then two and finally a champion is crowned.
2014 FIFA World Cup by the numbers
1930 – The year the first World Cup tournament was played
1950 – The last year that Brazil hosted the World Cup
4 – The number of years between each tournament
19 – The number of previous World Cup tournaments—the 2014 World Cup will be the 20th
32 – The number of teams that qualified to play
14 billion – The amount (in U.S. dollars) that Brazil is expected to spend on the tournament
3 million – The amount of tickets expected to be sold
12 – The number of stadiums where World Cup teams will compete (that’s almost 4 million seats)
Would you travel to Brazil for the World Cup? Tell us in the comments!