Simply put, the FIFA World Cup is the single biggest single-sport event in the world, and it rivals the Summer Olympics in worldwide interest and blows away the Super Bowl in world-wide viewers by nearly 10x.
Let London Bridge Pub, a downtown Raleigh English pub, explain a little more about the World Cup and why you should partake in watching soccer in a bar vs at home on your couch.
Who Plays in It?
Every four years, the host country plus 31 national teams that endured an intense, 32-month qualifying process that involves more countries than are members of the United Nations play in this celebration of soccer. In fact, 208 nations entered qualifying for the 2018 event, which runs from March 2015 to November 2017, and several of these nations’ fans oftentimes watch soccer in a bar with like-minded folks while cheering on their sides during qualifying as well as at the event itself if their side qualifies.
Who Has Won It?
Brazil is the most successful country as it has claimed this competition on five occasions (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002) while Germany and Italy have won it four times and Argentina and Uruguay have done so twice. Meanwhile, England, France and Spain have lifted the trophy once. No nation outside of Europe or South America has won this competition or even made it to the final. Two did advance to the semifinals, however, the United States at the inaugural 1930 edition, which was held in Uruguay, and South Korea on home soil in 2002.
No Centralized City
Unlike the Olympics, this event is spread across the host country with no centralized city. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro played host to seven games, including the final, but Manaus, which is located in the Amazon rainforest 2,700 miles away, also played host to games. The 1994 World Cup, which was played in the United States, was stretched from coast to coast with contests scheduled in New England and California. For that reason, many fans located in the host country also regularly watch soccer in a bar that month.
What is the Format?
The 32 participating teams are divided into eight groups of four squads apiece in a draw that is generally held in December the year before. The nations play each other once for three games apiece, and the first- and second-place teams in the standings in each group move on to the round of 16. From that round through the rest of the tournament, every stage is one game only. In these latter contests, if the score is tied after 90 minutes of play, they add 30 minutes, which is played in its entirety regardless of if either team scores during it. If the score is also tied at the end of 120 total minutes, they have a penalty shootout with each team taking five kicks apiece.
Where to Watch It?
Unless you are fortunate enough to be at the games themselves, the best thing to do is to be at a bar to watch the World Cup games to really get into the spirit of these intense contests. When this event comes around every four years, make it a point to come visit our downtown bar to watch the World Cup.