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The World Cup is back

On June 11, 2010, the world’s attention will be focused on the 19th FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Thirty-two nations will send their men’s national soccer teams to the southern coast of Africa to represent their homeland.
The World Cup, which began in 1930, is an international soccer tournament that takes place every four years excluding 1942 and 1946 due to World War II.
Throughout the 18 World Cup tournaments that have been held, only seven nations have been World Cup Champions. Brazil has won the coveted cup five times. Brazil is also the only team to have played in every World Cup tournament. Italy has won four titles and Germany has won three. Uruguay and Argentina have each won two titles, and England and France have won one title each. Italy is the current World Cup champion and will be defending their title from 2006.
Being that soccer is the world’s most popular sport; the World Cup is the most viewed sporting event in the world. During the 2006 World Cup Championship match, there were an estimated 715.1 million viewers. This statistic is especially amazing considering that the 2010 Vancouver Olympics had an estimated 152 million viewers over seven days. The 2010 tournament will be the first World Cup hosted by an African nation.
The teams are divided into eight groups of four teams. The groups are named by letters A through H. The top eight teams are placed in separate groups by seeding, which is determined by FIFA World Rankings. The other 24 teams are randomly placed in the remaining group slots.
There are two stages of play in the World Cup. The first stage is group play, where teams within groups compete against each other. A round-robin format is used during group play which means all teams play three times. Group play matches can result in a win, lose, or a draw (tie). The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. The knockout stage is a single elimination tournament format, similar to that of March Madness. Knockout round matches can only result in a win or a loss. To avoid any draws in this stage of the tournament, matches are given extra time to determine a winner. If a team is not victorious by the end of extra time, the game is decided by a shootout.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa will begin on June 11 and will be aired in three different languages in the United States. ABC and the ESPN family of networks will be airing the World Cup matches in English, while Univision, Telefutura, and Galavisión will air the matches in Spanish. ESPN Deportes will also be airing the games in Portuguese.

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