A1 The 2014 World Cup
There are many sporting events that get fans fired up and that generate a lot of interest. One of these is the FIFA World Cup, which is often just referred to as the World Cup. It is held every four years, and is an international soccer competition between a number of countries A3 (Glanville, 2005). In 2014, the competition is being held in Brazil. In 2018 it will be held in Russia, and in 2022, it will be held in Qatar. The World Cup brings soccer fans from all over the world to wherever it is being hosted that year, so they can spend time with other fans and see their teams play against one another. Some soccer fans take the issue much more seriously than others, and there have been riots and other problems at the games in the past (Dunning, 1999). There have also been concerns as to whether the cities that have hosted the games have really been ready to do so, because some of the accommodations and safety precautions have not been what would have been expected for an international competition (Glanville, 2005). Every country and location is different in what it does to prepare to host, though, and the majority of the games have been in places that have taken great pride in hosting them.
In order to understand the significance and value of the games in the minds of soccer fans and others who love to see large sporting events come to their countries, it is important to take a look at the history of the World Cup. The game of soccer itself and the teams from all over the world that are playing in the competition are valuable information, too, as is the outcome of the games and who will be champion of the 2014 tournament. By taking a look at all of that information, it can be much easier to see the value and importance that the World Cup has for soccer fans, and can also be easier to understand why countries put so much work into being selected as hosts and being ready for fans.
A4 The History
There is a great deal of history when it comes to the FIFA World Cup. The first tournament in the competition was played in 1930 (Glanville, 2005). Since that time, the games have been played every four years. The only exception was in 1942 and 1946, because of the Second World War (Glanville, 2005). Even though the World Cup started in 1930, that was not the first year professional soccer matches were held. As far back as 1872, England and Scotland played matches against one another (Glanville, 2005). In 1884, the British Home Championship was played, and the interest in soccer started spreading to other parts of the world (Dunning, 1999). The summer Olympics saw soccer matches played as early as 1900 and 1904 (Glanville, 2005). They were originally created as exhibition-only games, but eventually their status was upgraded and they were considered as official medal events. In 1904, FIFA was founded (Glanville, 2005). There was a goal to have an international soccer match take place in 1906, but that effort failed (Glanville, 2005).
The interest in soccer continued to grow, though, leading to the start of the World Cup events in 1930. That gave soccer plenty of time to gain interest and develop more of a following, so that it could be popular enough to have international competitions that would be attended by a large number of people (Dunning, 1999). If there were not enough fans to come to the competitions, then there would be no reason to hold the competitions. Even though there was great interest in having them, they also had to be profitable. The host city for each year that the World Cup was held would want time to get ready for the event, and would also want to determine why it would be worthwhile for that city to serve as host. Now, the city that gets elected to host the World Cup is generally very excited about being chosen, and months of preparation goes into getting ready for the event.
A5 The Game
The World Cup game is soccer. In some parts of the world it is called football, but that can be easily confused by Americans for their version of the game (Dunning, 1999). Using the term "soccer" helps to ensure that confusion does not arise. It is relatively simple to play. Each team has a set number of players, one of which guards the goal. The others run up and down the field, moving the ball toward the goal of the other team (Dunning, 1999). The plan, of course, is to get the ball into the other team's goal, thus scoring a point. While this is not, in theory, very difficult, it can be complicated and difficult to do because of the members of the opposing team and the sheer size of the field itself. Unlike many other games that are played with a ball, players must not use their hands. They kick the ball with their feet, and they can also use their head (Dunning, 1999). The goalie may use his hands, and if the ball is knocked out of bounds, the person returning it to play may use his hands to throw the ball back onto the field. Scores can end up tied, unlike in other games that go into overtime if there is a tied score when the game ends.
Soccer has been a popular sport for years in some parts of the world, but has traditionally not been as popular in the United States as it was in parts of Europe (Dunning, 1999). That is slowly changing, and the United States sends a team to the World Cup every year. That helps to encourage Americans to embrace soccer, and gives them another sporting event in which they can become involved. The camaraderie that comes along with that is very important in building a unified society, as getting people to band together for something they find interesting is a great way to ensure that they will continue to work with one another in other ways. Soccer fans can be very passionate, though, and there have been many soccer riots that have taken place at the World Cup and other soccer events throughout the years (Dunning, 1999). There have even been serious injuries and deaths reported.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, teams from all over the world come together to play against one another in a series of matches. The winners from each match go on to play the winners from other matches. Then, those winners play one another. This continues until there are only two teams left, and they play one another for the title. In 2010, the last year in which the World Cup was held, Spain was the winner. There are eight groups that the countries are placed into, and they play other teams in that group and accumulate points (Glanville, 2005). The system by which they advance is not complex, but it does require following one's team carefully in order to stay abreast of how that team is doing and whether it will continue to move forward or will end up out of the competition due to not winning enough matches and not advancing in points. There are currently 32 teams in the World Cup, and there is talk of expanding it to include 40 teams at some point in the future (Glanville, 2005). Whether that will take place remains to be seen, but there is a desire to allow more teams to be a part of the event.
Teams that play in the FIFA World Cup come from places like the United States, but they are also found in more unlikely countries, like Ghana and Iran (Glanville, 2005). Any country can have a soccer team, and work to be part of the 32 teams that are involved in the World Cup. Not all teams will make it, of course, but if the change to 40 teams is made it will be easier to get into the tournament. That can give valuable and important experience to the teams of countries that would otherwise not have much of an opportunity to move forward in any capacity when it comes to international soccer. Teams can only get better when they have an opportunity to continue playing against some of the best, and that can happen in the World Cup, where the best of the best of the international teams are able to get together and play to see who is the best in the world.
The outcome of the last World Cup was in favor of Spain, which was declared the winner. The 2014 World Cup has not yet been decided, and there are still a number of teams in the running. Round 16 games will be played on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of June, as well as the first of July. Winners of those games will compete in the quarter-finals on July 5th, and the winners of those games will advance to the semi-finals, which will be played on July 8th and 9th. The final will not be played until July 13th. That is one of the most interesting things about the World Cup, is that it is not just a short event. Play between the teams goes on for weeks, which is a great way for fans to really get interested in what is taking place (Glanville, 2005). They are able to become connected with one another and the teams for which they are cheering, and it can foster a sense of purpose and pride in them and their fellow countrymen. That is one of the best things about the FIFA World Cup, is how it is able to bring people together.
Until July 13th, there will be no way to tell which team is going to win. Countries whose teams have already been taken out of the running are going back to the lives they led before they immersed themselves in the World Cup, and the countries who still have teams in the running are becoming more and more interested in how their team is doing and whether they have a chance at winning. Bringing home a World Cup trophy is a huge accomplishment for an international soccer team (Dunning, 1999; Glanville, 2005). Having four years to prepare for something and then not performing well at it, on the other hand, can be very devastating and not something that most players would find acceptable at all (Glanville, 2005). With that in mind, the teams of all countries work very hard to earn the right to play in the FIFA World Cup, so they can make their country proud. They may also get endorsement deals and other perks from playing in the tournament, along with the chance of the trophy (Glanville, 2005).
The teams that play in the World Cup have spent numerous hours dedicating themselves to their craft. They have focused on what they need to do in order to be successful. They have played when the weather was bad, when they were sick, when they were injured, and even when they felt like giving up. While professional athletes like soccer players who make it to the World Cup may seem to have it easy, the level of dedication that goes into what they do can be very hard to ignore. They are deeply committed to playing their sport, and they work toward getting better and better every time they play. When they do make it to the World Cup, the pressure to do well for their team and their country can be nearly overwhelming. Those who have what it takes to handle this pressure will be much more successful than those who do not, but by the time a soccer player has gotten that far, he is usually more than up for the challenge it brings with it. It is impossible to tell who will win the World Cup in 2014, although bets have been taken and predictions are already being made.
Until the final game is played, though, it will remain speculation and keep fans of soccer guessing. That is part of the fun of the World Cup. Having something that is too predictable would not be interesting for the fans, and would also not be good for the morale of the players. They want to know that they have to compete hard, and that they have an opportunity to win and bring home the trophy for their country. If they are able to do that, they can carry that accomplishment with them for the rest of their lives. Since soccer is a hard sport and injuries are common, those who play in the World Cup this year may not get to do it again in four years. To be part of a winning team would be a moment that would rival nearly anything else in life, and would be something that could be shared with both teammates and the fans who are cheering from the sidelines.
Dunning, E. (1999). The development of soccer as a world game. Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence and Civilisation. London: Routledge.
Glanville, B. (2005). The story of the World Cup. NY: Faber.