World Cup 2014 Explained, How It All Works And Why It’s Such A Big Deal

The World Cup 2014 will kick-off in a matter of hours when the host country Brazil faces off against Croatia in the opening match and if you are thinking about watching, but don’t know how this works, we are her to help.

More than anything, the World Cup is a celebration of the most popular sport on the planet and for fans, who have waited four long years to witness the greatest players in the world in action, kick-off can’t come soon enough.

It is expected that 3.3 million people will attend matches all over Brazil and many more will watch on TV, online or on their mobile devices. This year social media has also gotten on the 2014 World Cup bandwagon, which you can witness if you log into your favorite site.

Here are the basic things you need to know about the World Cup:

What is FIFA?

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is football’s world governing body and as such sponsor of the World Cup organization. With headquarters in Switzerland, FIFA is ultimately responsible for the effective running of the tournament.

World Cup Qualifiers

Football (soccer) is the world’s most popular sport, which means that when the World Cup comes along every four years, everyone wants to play in it. Those wishing to participate in this massive tournament, have to go through a qualifying round which starts in the years previous to the competition.

The world is divided into six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, and Europe) from which 32 national teams are selected. A draw splits them into eight groups — named alphabetically from A to H — made of four countries each.

World Cup Groups Stage

The initial phase in the World Cup is the Group Stage, where all qualifiers compete against each other within their respective groups, from which two move on to the following phase.

FIFA seeds each team and uses a special formula to rank every single country within their group, also ensuring that their is an even split between top teams and weaker ones. Regional considerations also go into selecting the members of a World Cup group.

World Cup Knock Out Stage

When the group phase is complete, the top two countries in each group move on to the knock out phase, a single elimination process in which the loser goes home. Those with the most goals qualify for this stage of the World Cup (differentials are used in case of a tie).

The knock out round is also called the round of 16, referring to the number of countries left standing after the Groups Stage, half of those who started. In this stage, there MUST be a winner and overtime and penalties are used to determine the victor, making it the most exciting and dramatic part of the tournament.

In the knock out stage of the World Cup, the winner of each group plays the runner-up of another group paired in a predetermined bracket, much like American sports tournaments are designed. Below is a printable version of the schedule.

World Cup Final Round

The knock out phase is followed by the quarter-finals, semi-final, third place match (played by the losing semi-finalists), and the final.

The World Cup Trophy

The champion is awarded with the FIFA World Cup trophy, which is not given to the winner permanently, but on loan until four years later. Each of top three teams receive medals engraved with an insignia of the World Cup Trophy. The current champion is Spain.

After all the blood, sweat and tears, the countries selected to play in the World Cup are all fighting for one thing, international recognition and status as the best of the best in a sport that is followed by millions around the World. On Thursday, the bid for a new world champion begins, with Brazil hoping they can win a title at home after waiting for more than 64-years.

[Image via Twitter]