The World Cup is contested every four years and is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world with billions of viewers world-wide.* Qualification for the final tournament began two and a half years ago as the 207 member nations competed for the final 32 spots (yes, there are more member nations in FIFA than in the UN). The last of the 32 qualified teams was determined a couple of weeks ago, with Mexico and Uruguay qualifying on the last day.
The draw for the tournament will be held this Friday morning to determine which teams will play and when. The draw is televised live on ESPN2 at 11:30am EST.
Concerning the draw itself, all of the teams are placed into one of four “Pots”. Pot 1 has the host country, Brazil, and the seven top teams in the world according to FIFA’s rankings. The United States, based on their rankings and region of the world, are in Pot 3, which means the USA will be drawn against one of these top teams in the world: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, or Switzerland.
Every World Cup there is what many call a “Group of Death”, a group that has two or more of the best teams in the tournament. This usually results when traditional European powerhouses fall just below the top seven in the world rankings. This year, that list of teams include the Netherlands, Italy, England, and Portugal, and are placed in Pot 4. Therefore, it is possible for the finalists of the 2010 World Cup Final (Spain and the Netherlands) to be drawn into the same group. Let’s hope that the USA isn’t drawn into the “Group of Death”! It is also possible for the US to be drawn into the same group as England as happened four years ago.
The 32 qualified teams will be drawn into eight groups of four. At the tournament, each team plays all the other teams in their group (for a minimum total of three games). Three points are awarded for a win, and one point for a draw (tie). The top two teams in each group based on points advance in single-elimination format. The tournament begins on Thursday, June 12th at 4:00pm EDT and culminates with the Final on Sunday, July 13.
I will post the full schedule of matches on Friday after the draw.
Q~ Who do you think is the favorite to win the tournament? How far do you think the United States will advance? Which country (or countries) are you rooting for?
*The total viewership for all the matches of the tournament exceeds 2.2 billion. The viewership of the final match alone is nearly one billion homes and doesn’t count the people gathering and viewing in pubs and public venues. With those factors, the conservative estimate is somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5 billion people. In contrast, Super Bowl XLVII had an estimated 114 million Americans watching with another 60 million world-wide.