NEW YORK – Football World Cup 2014 is now 02 days away and excitement is getting hotter. So here is amazing 50 facts about that biggest sporting event of the world.
1. The World Cup hasn’t always been this World Cup. For the first nine editions of the tournament, dating from 1930 to 1970, the winner was awarded what came to be known as the Jules Rimet trophy.
2. FIFA requires hosts of the World Cup to have a minimum of eight venues. Brazil, which has experienced significant delays in most of its stadium projects, decided to build 12.
3. Everyone was so convinced that Brazil would win the 1950 World Cup going into the final game that the FIFA president prepared a congratulatory speech … in Portuguese. Brazil lost 2-1 to Uruguay.
4. Only two countries have successfully defended the World Cup: Italy, which won in 1934 and 1938, and Brazil, with victories in 1958 and 1962.
5. Brazil is the only country to participate in every edition of the World Cup, which takes them to 20 straight appearances including this year.
6. But Brazil hasn’t always been a World Cup powerhouse. In fact, its first two trips were unmitigated disasters. In 1930, political infighting at the federation level ruined the team’s chances. And in 1934, the two-week sea journey to Italy left the players exhausted. It would be 1958 before Brazil became, well, Brazil.
7. For World Cup debutantes, like Bosnia-Herzegovina, the first trip can be rough. Of the 22 first-timers over the past five tournaments, only seven survived the group stage. They combined for 23 victories, eight draws, and 47 defeats.
8. The record for most goals in a single World Cup game belongs to Russia’s Oleg Salenko, who found the net five times against Cameroon in 1994.
9. The Jules Rimet trophy, despite surviving World War II under the bed of a FIFA official, disappeared for good sometime after it was awarded permanently to Brazil for its third triumph in 1970. The replacement, which is the modern design, came into use for the 1974 tournament.
10. FIFA ran a contest before this World Cup to let fans choose the slogans on each country’s bus. Winners ranged from the witty (the Netherlands’ “Real men wear orange”) to the inspirational (the Ivory Coast’s “Elephants off to conquer Brazil!”) to the downright silly (Australia’s “Socceroos: Hopping into history!”) And then there was France’s “Impossible is not a French word.” Actually, it is. The word is impossible.
11. Host nations have won the World Cup on six occasions: Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, England in 1966, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978, and France in 1998.
12. All four World Cups played in South America (1930, 1950, 1962, and 1978) have been won by South American countries. A European team had never won outside of Europe until Spain won in South Africa four years ago.
13. This could be the last World Cup featuring 32 teams. FIFA is considering expanding the field to 40 for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
14. Roughly 83 different nations have participated in the World Cup. But that depends on how you count it. At least seven of them are defunct or have new names, including the Soviet Union, Zaire, and the Dutch East Indies.
15. Each confederation sets the rules for qualifying, which means that some teams faced longer roads to Brazil than others. Uruguay had to work the hardest, playing 18 games on the road to the World Cup. Spain, meanwhile, played just eight to punch its ticket.
16. Spain took home $30 million in prize money for winning the 2010 World Cup. This year’s winner will earn $35 million, nearly three times more than Brazil in 2002.
17. The World Cup wasn’t televised until the 1954 tournament in Switzerland. In 2010, the final drew an estimated audience of 24.3 million in the U.S. alone.
18. In the pantheon of World Cup upsets, it always comes down to these two: the U.S. stunning England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup and North Korea beating Italy in 1966. For 2014 to deliver anything close to those, Costa Rica, say, would have to eliminate Spain.
19. Brazil is the second largest country to host a World Cup, after the U.S. in 1994.
20. Three of the past five World Cup finals couldn’t be settled in regulation. Two of them had to go to penalty shootouts (1994 and 2006), while Spain won the last one in 30 minutes of extra-time.
21. This is the first World Cup that will feature goal-line technology to help referees determine whether or not a ball crossed the line. All other forms of assistance to officials, including instant replay, remain off limits.
22.The yellow and red card system for disciplining players only made its debut at the 1970 World Cup, at the suggestion of a British referee.
23. Since the tournament moved to the modern 16-team knockout round format in 1986, nearly a third of all knockout games have required longer than the regulation 90 minutes. Of the 112 matches, 14 were settled in extra-time and 21 went to penalty kicks.
24. Every team will earn $8 million this summer just for showing up, plus $1.5 million to cover preparation expenses, according to FIFA.
25. The record for most goals by a player in a single World Cup still stands after 56 years. It belongs to France’s Just Fontaine, who scored 13 in 1958.
26. The record for attendance at the tournament still belongs to the U.S., which saw an average of 68,991 fans for games during the 1994 World Cup.
27. Seven sides—from Italy, France, Spain and Brazil—have lifted the trophy wearing dark or royal blue over the 19 previous tournaments. Only one winner has worn red—England in 1966.
28. Germany has never lost a penalty shootout at the World Cup in four attempts. England has never won one in three.
29. The first goalkeeper to play a World Cup final in gloves is believed to be Sepp Maier of West Germany in 1974. Before then, almost all goalkeepers played barehanded.
30. The 1982 World Cup in Spain featured the most venues—17 stadiums across 14 cities. The first tournament in 1930 was the most compact, with three venues. They were all in Montevideo, Uruguay.
31. The capacity for this year’s final at the Maracana Stadium will be about 75,000, less than half of the 174,000 fans who were believed to be at the 1950 final in the same venue.
32. The oldest player to win the World Cup is Italy goalkeeper Dino Zoff. He lifted the trophy in 1982 at age 40.
33.The numbers from 1 to 23 are the only ones allowed on World Cup jerseys, according to FIFA rules. The number 1 must belong to a goalkeeper.
34.The longest national anthem at the 2014 World Cup will belong to Greece and its 158 verses. If you count by bars of music, however, the distinction belongs to Uruguay with 105. Of course, FIFA doesn’t allow them to play the whole thing—the rules don’t allow them to exceed 90 seconds.
35. No country has been to more finals without winning one than the Netherlands (1974, 1978 and 2010). Germany, also playing as West Germany, has lost four finals, but also won three.
36. The first World Cup final was in 1930, when Uruguay beat neighboring Argentina 4-2.
37. The smallest country to qualify for the World Cup is Trinidad and Tobago in 2002. Population: 1.2 million.
38. Adidas has designed every World Cup ball since 1970. That first Adidas model, called the Telstar, introduced the characteristic black-and-white panel design to make it easier to see the ball on television.
39. The first qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup happened on June 15, 2011: Belize beat Montserrat 5-2. Neither side will be in Brazil.
40. The World Cup trophy weighs 13.6 pounds, almost twice as much as the Lombardi Trophy, but 4 pounds less than the UEFA Champions League trophy.
41. Two players have been to a record five World Cups: Antonio Carbajal of Mexico and Lothar Matthaus of Germany. Matthaus won it once.
42. Five World Cup games have seen at least 10 goals, including Austria’s 7-5 victory over Switzerland in 1954. No game has hit double figures since 1982.
43. The winning team, of course, earns a trophy that is made mostly of solid gold. The second and third teams get medals. Fourth gets you a diploma.
44. El Salvador is the only team to appear at more than one World Cup and lose all of its games. It has scored just one goal.
45. No team has scored more World Cup goals overall than Brazil with 210 in 97 games.
46. Only one team has ever been eliminated from the World Cup without conceding a single goal: Switzerland in 2006. It was knocked out on penalties by Ukraine in the second round.
47. The FIFA regulations lay out six tiebreakers for the group stage, from goal differential to head-to-head record. The last one on the list is the drawing of lots.
48. The first ever World Cup mascot arrived for the 1966 tournament in England. Named World Cup Willie, he was a lion in a Union Jack jersey. Since then five official mascots have been animals, two have been children, one was a stick figure, one was a trio of aliens, and two were fresh produce. The produce category includes Naranjito, Spain’s grinning orange, and Pique, Mexico’s mustachioed chili pepper in a sombrero.
49. France’s Zinedine Zidane is the most penalized player in World Cup history. In 12 games over three tournaments, he received four yellow cards and two reds, including one for the infamous head butt in the 2006 final. Only Brazil’s Cafu has received as many cards, with six yellows across four tournaments.
50. British bookmakers make Brazil the favorite going into this tournament, just ahead of Argentina and Germany. The rank outsider is Honduras at 2,500-1.