July 22, 2014
The World Cup, that quadrennial international soccer tournament which draws so much attention worldwide, was held in Brazil from June 12th to July 13th. Thirty-two national teams competed in stadiums in twelve Brazilian cities.
The thirty-two national teams were (arranged by regional federations through which they qualify):
Asian Football Confederation: Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
2. African Confederation: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
3. North America, Central America and Caribbean federation: Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.
4. South American federation: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and host nation Brazil.
5. European Federation: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and Spain.
For those of you who don’t know much about the World Cup (and don’t feel bad, I used to didn’t either) here’s how it works.
At the beginning of the tournament, the 32 national teams are divided into groups of four. In the first round, each team plays the other three teams in the group. At the end of this first round (three games per team), two teams from each group are eliminated and two stay in the tournament. That leaves 16 teams for the second round.
The next round, with the 16 teams, it's single elimination. If a team loses, it’s out.
Following the Round of 16 are the quarter-finals, with only eight teams.
By the semi-finals there are four teams left. These teams are paired off, and the two losing teams take on each other for the third-place playoff. The next day, the two winning teams play each other for the World Cup championship.
In this year’s World Cup, the final game was Argentina vs. Germany. Team Germany was triumphant, 1-0. This was the team’s first World Cup victory since before the union of West Germany and East Germany on October 3rd, 1990. West Germany had won three World Cups before the union, in 1954, 1974 and 1990. (The 1990 World Cup victory was on July 8th, 1990, thus just a few months before unification).
In the past, every single World Cup held in the Western Hemisphere (known in Spanish as the continent of América) had been won by a team from the Western Hemisphere. But Germany broke that tradition, so it’s no longer true.
Of course, out of 32 teams, there can be only one winner at the end. That’s the whole point. Yet, for particular reasons, some teams and their fans were more disappointed than others.
Spain, the winner of the previous World Cup in 2010, did poorly and was eliminated in the first round.
Brazil, the host country, is the only nation to have played in every single World Cup and the winner of more World Cups (5) than any other country. However, in the quarter-finals, Brazil was demolished 7-1 by Germany. Television coverage showed the faces of devastated Brazilian fans in the stadium. Brazil still had a chance to get third place in the tournament, but its defeat at the hands of the Netherlands team left it in 4th place.
The winner of the Golden Boot award, for the highest scorer of the tournament (not counting penalty shots) went to James Rodriguez of Colombia, who’d scored 6 goals.
The winner of the Golden Ball award (considered the most valuable player) was Lionel Messi of Argentina.
The Fair Play trophy was won by Team Colombia.
On the other side of the coin, player Luis Suarez of Uruguay was fined and banned for four months and for nine international matches, for biting (yes, biting!) an opponent during the Uruguay-Italy game. ( This was not the first time Suarez had bitten an opponent.)
Argentina, with two World Cup victories in its history, had high hopes, and faced off against Germany for the final game, but was defeated.
A lot of money was doled out at the world Cup, as FIFA (the governing board of international soccer) paid out US $576 million. Even the teams who lost in the first round received $8 million dollars apiece, and the winning team (Germany) received $35 million.
The World Cup is held every four years, and the next two sites have already been chosen. The plan is for World Cup 2018 to be held in Russia, and World Cup 2022 in Qatar, a small but prosperous nation located on a peninsula in Persian Gulf.
� 2014 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.