It is exactly 32 days to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but there is enough to whet the appetite already before the tournament begins on June 12, 2014.
Protests have been held across the country; stadia have collapsed and casualties abound; accusations of embezzlement have been traded among the country’s senior figures; the Amazon forest is causing nightmares in the English camp (and its media circus); and Brazilian Internet hackers have also threatened to disrupt the tournament!
This makes an interesting setting for the World Cup, which returns to South America for the fifth time — the first time since 1978, and the second time to Brazil. Brazil, which last hosted the world in 1950, won the rights for this tournament in 2007 unopposed, but the country’s national team should expect serious opposition as the Samba boys lay ambush to a cup (currently held by Spain) Brazilians believe is their “birth right”, particularly on home soil.
Here, there are no Financial Fair Play rules (cue UEFA) as FIFA are set to splash the cash on participating countries, each to receive US$8 million for their presence. The world champions will receive $35 million, while there is much more to share among runners-up, semi-finalists, quarter finalists and round-of-16 qualifiers.
Overall, it’s a jamboree, as FIFA are set to spend $576 million — a new record, compared with the $420 million doled out at the last tournament in South Africa.
Clubs are not left out in the money-fest, as their players called up for the quadrennial tournament by the participating countries will fetch a $70 million compensation for insurance costs and expenses!!!
Moving away from the financials, some salient records in the 80-year history of the FIFA World Cup™ deserve a look.
Brazil have participated in every single tournament till date, and are the only country to successfully defend their title (1958 and 1962).
Also Brazil and West Germany (now Germany) are the only countries to appear in three consecutive finals. Europe and South America have monopolised this tournament, supplying teams who have contested each of the 19 previous finals, with European juggernauts edging out their South American counterpart 10 times to 9.
Brazil leads the South American nations, and also has the overall number of titles (five), while Italy (four) rules Europe.
Only eight countries have won the tournament: Europe 5 – 3 South America.
Brazil also have the all-time highest goalscorer in the tournament, Ronaldo, who amassed 15 goals in three tournaments (1998-2006).
In case you have not taken notice, officiating at this year’s tournament will be handled by 25 centre referees, only four of those from Africa, and none from Nigeria.
Goal-line technology will be in place for every game in the tournament; a total of 3,334,524 tickets are available for sale; game giants, EA Sports, will handle the official video game of the competition; six nations have won the tournament as hosts; and England’s Geoff Hurst is the only player to score a hat-trick in the Final of the World Cup (1966).
A total of 64 matches are to be played in 12 cities, the final match holding at the spiritual home of Brazilian football: the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
Thirty-two countries will participate in the tournament, Europe (13) the most represented, and Asia and North and Central America (4 each) the least represented. Sadly, however, Oceania will have no representative in this year’s tourney.
To get your World Cup mood into gear, TheCable — beginning from Sunday May 12, 2014, and until the opening ceremony — will be serving a daily in-depth preview of each participating nation, with Brazil being the last on the roster.
Welcome to Brazil!