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Friday, June 18, 2010

FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup, also called the Football World Cup or the Soccer World Cup, or simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not contested because of the Second World War.

The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about a month – this phase is often called the World Cup Finals. A qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).

During the 18 tournaments that have been held, seven national teams have won the title. Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. Italy, the current champions, have won four titles, and Germany are next with three titles. The other former champions are Uruguay, winners of the inaugural tournament, and Argentina, with two titles each, and England and France, with one title each.

The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.[1] The current World Cup is being held in South Africa, between 11 June and 11 July 2010, and the 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil.


Previous international competitions

The world's first international football match was a challenge match played in Glasgow in 1872 between Scotland and England,[2] with the first international tournament, the inaugural edition of the British Home Championship, taking place in 1884.[3] At this stage the sport was rarely played outside the United Kingdom. As football grew in popularity in other parts of the world at the turn of the century, it was held as a demonstration sport with no medals awarded at the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics (however, the IOC has retroactively upgraded their status to official events), and at the 1906 Intercalated Games[citation needed].

After FIFA was founded in 1904, it tried to arrange an international football tournament between nations outside the Olympic framework in Switzerland in 1906. These were very early days for international football, and the official history of FIFA describes the competition as having been a failure.[4]

At the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, football became an official competition. Planned by The Football Association (FA), England's football governing body, the event was for amateur players only and was regarded suspiciously as a show rather than a competition. Great Britain (represented by the England national amateur football team) won the gold medals. They repeated the feat in 1912 in Stockholm, where the tournament was organised by the Swedish Football Association.

With the Olympic event continuing to be contested only between amateur teams, Sir Thomas Lipton organised the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy tournament in Turin in 1909. The Lipton tournament was a championship between individual clubs (not national teams) from different nations, each one of which represented an entire nation. The competition is sometimes described as The First World Cup,[5] and featured the most prestigious professional club sides from Italy, Germany and Switzerland, but the FA of England refused to be associated with the competition and declined the offer to send a professional team. Lipton invited West Auckland, an amateur side from County Durham, to represent England instead. West Auckland won the tournament and returned in 1911 to successfully defend their title. They were given the trophy to keep forever, as per the rules of the competition.

In 1914, FIFA agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a "world football championship for amateurs", and took responsibility for managing the event.[6] This paved the way for the world's first intercontinental football competition, at the 1920 Summer Olympics, contested by Egypt and thirteen European teams, and won by Belgium.[7] Uruguay won the next two Olympic football tournaments in 1924 and 1928.

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