Sedge Court Journal
Providing sports fans with expert analysis since 2004

Monday, June 05, 2006

Greetings Kielbasites,
What the fuck is the World Cup? Like most Americans, I know it is some soccer tournament that every other country in the word goes crazy over yet hardly makes the radar here in the United States. With Team Polska a legitimate contender I have decided to educate myself and they rest of my loyal sedgies on the World Cup. Here is the Robnosticators "Beginners Guide to the World Cup". (Hat Tip: Wikipedia)
What is the History?
The FIFA World Cup (often called the Football World Cup, Soccer World Cup or simply the World Cup) is the most important competition in international football. The world's most representative team sport event, the World Cup is contested by the men's national football teams of Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) (the sport's largest governing body) member nations. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930 (except in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II). However, it is more of an ongoing event as the qualifying rounds of the competition take place over the three years preceding the final rounds.

The men's final tournament phase (often called the "Finals") involves 32 national teams competing over a four-week period in a previously nominated host nation, with these games making it the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world. In the 17 tournaments held, only seven nations have ever won the World Cup Finals. Brazil is the current holder, as well as the most successful World Cup team, having won the tournament five times, while Germany and Italy follow with three titles each. The next football World Cup Finals will be held in Germany between June 9 and July 9, 2006.
How do teams qualify for the World Cup?
Since the second World Cup in 1934, qualifying tournaments have been held to thin the field for the final tournament. They are held within the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), overseen by their respective confederations. For each tournament, FIFA decides the number of places awarded to each of the continental zones beforehand, generally based on the relative strength of the confederations' teams, but also subject to lobbying from the confederations.

The qualification process can start as early as almost three years before the final tournament, and last over a two-year period. The formats of the qualification tournaments differ between confederations. Usually, one or two places are awarded to winners of Intercontinental Play-offs. For example, the winner of the Oceanian zone and the fifth-placed team from the South American zone entered a play-off to decide which team would qualify for the 2006 World Cup [11]. From the 1938 World Cup onwards, host nations have received an automatic berth in the finals. This right also used to be granted to the defending champion, but from the 2006 finals onwards, this entitlement has been withdrawn, requiring the champions to qualify as well.
How does the World Cup Tournament Work?
The current finals tournament features 32 national teams competing over a month in the host nation(s). There are two stages, a group stage and a knockout stage.

In the first stage (the group stage), teams are drawn into eight groups of four. Eight teams are seeded at the draw (based on both current FIFA World Rankings and recent World Cups), and assigned a group. The other teams are drawn at random. Since 1998, constraints have applied to the draw to ensure that no group contains more than two European teams or more than one team from any other confederation. Each group plays a round-robin tournament, guaranteeing that every qualifying nation will play at least three matches. The last round of matches of each group are held simultaneously to prevent collusion between nations. Since 1994, three points have been awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss (prior to this, winners only received two points). The top two teams from each group advance to the second stage (the knockout stage). If two or more teams finish level on points, tie-breakers are used: first is goal difference, then total goals scored, then head-to-head results, and finally drawing of lots.

The knockout stage is a single-elimination round in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the winner. In the Round of 16, the winner of each group plays against the runner-up from another group. This is followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final. The losing semi-finalists contest a third place match.
Handicapping Tips:
In all, 207 teams have competed to qualify for the World Cup Finals, and 78 nations have qualified at least once. Of these, only eleven have made it to the final match, and only seven have won. This exclusivity inspires much enthusiasm and national pride amongst the tournament's fans.

With five victories out of its seven appearances in the final match, Brazil is the most successful World Cup team. It is also the only nation to have participated in every World Cup Finals tournament so far.

At the continental level, South America narrowly leads Europe with nine titles to eight. Brazil and Germany are tied for most appearances in the final match with 7 (Brazil has won 5; Germany has won 3). Brazil and Italy were finalists each challenging for their 3rd cup in 1970 and for their 4th cup in 1994. In both matches, Brazil won.

The seven national teams that have won the World Cup have added stars to the crest, located on their shirt, each star representing a World Cup victory.
Six of the seven champions have won at least one of their titles while playing in their own homeland, the exception being Brazil, who lost the deciding match (known as Maracanazo) when they hosted the 1950 tournament. England (1966 World Cup) and France (1998 World Cup) won their only Cups while playing as host nations. But it isn't just accomplished footballing nations that experience success, as traditionally "weaker" nations have also been successful during their spell as hosts. South Korea made it to the semifinals as a co-host in 2002 despite never previously passing the first round. The success of the host in the Cup is a major reason why nations actively lobby to be selected as hosts, as they seek to gain the advantage of a supportive crowd.
With Team Polska facing host nation Germany in the group stage it looks like we have our odds stacked against us but.......... if my mother has taught me anything, it that hatred for Germany is multi-generational!!!
Go Team Polska,

  1. Feedback At 10:36 AM ~ Anonymous Schinsky said...

    GO POLSKA!!!!


    The Fishin' Pole

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