For a summer
month every four years a sports tournament is held that has the
world watching in their billions. It's not the Olympic Games, as
popular as that is it does not compare with the real 'daddy' of
sports tournaments the FIFA World Cup.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy, the most coveted
prize in world sport. Picture: www.fifa.com
Quite simply the FIFA World Cup is the greatest soccer tournament on
planet earth. For these four weeks the best players from all over
the world come to represent their countries, rather than the clubs
they play for.
There are 32 countries who take part in the tournament. 31 of these
will have gained their place through a 2 year qualification process,
while one country, the place where the tournament is held, qualify
automatically as hosts.
In the qualification process for the main event the countries
compete against each other in one of six continental zones. The
zones are: African, Asian, European, Oceanian, South American and
the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone.
In each zone teams are divided up into groups with a differing
amount of World Cup qualifying places available,apparently dependant
on the amount of national associations (countries) in each zone.
The current number of World Cup places available for each zone are
Asian Football Confederation (AFC): 44 national associations / 4.5
African Football Confederation (CAF): 52 national associations / 5
Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association
Football (CONCACAF): 35 national associations / 3.5 places.
South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL): 10 national
associations / 4.5 places.
Oceania Football Confederation (OFC): 12 national associations / 0.5
European Football Union (UEFA): 52 national associations / 13
The German cities that will host games in the
2006 FIFA World Cup. *1. Hamburg *2. Hannover *3. Berlin *4.
Gelsenkirchen *5. Dortmund *6. Leipzig *7. Koln *8.
Frankfurt *9. Kaiserlautern *10 Nurenberg *11. Stuttgart
*12. Munich. Map Available from: www.fifa.com
You will notice that some zones have half a place, as silly as it
looks it is explained quite easily. It means that one country from
these zones that has just missed out on a place in the World Cup can
still potentially qualify, by virtue of playing a home and away
winner takes all play off with another country from a different zone
who find themselves in a similar situation. Told you it was
Eventually there are 32 teams who have qualified and they go on to
take their place at the tournament. The teams are divided into 8
groups of four teams and they play each other once with a total of
three games in the first stage. The top two teams from each group
qualify for the next round of the competition, which is a knockout
round with the winner progressing to the next stage. This process is
repeated until two countries are left to contest the World Cup
The 2006 FIFA World Cup takes place next summer in Germany. Under
new laws the tournament will be played on a different continent
every four years, with the next choice to be an African location in