The world's biggest sporting event had come and gone. The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off with the hosting nation of Brazil winning the tournament's first match against Croatia in a 3-1 victory on June 12, only to be defeated in a shocking 7-1 match against Germany in the semi-finals.
Whether you're a soccer (known as football outside the U.S.) fanatic or not, there's no denying the exceptional skill and high levels of emotion that go into this multinational event. In honor of this once-every-four-years event, here are some interesting facts about the World Cup.
#1) It's The Most Watched Televised Event In The World
With an estimated 715.1 million people worldwide tuning in to watch the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, this is the world's most watched televised event. Surprisingly, it even exceeds the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games. While the exact number of viewers is not yet known, the number for the 2014 FIFA World Cup final is expected to exceed 1 billion viewers once the numbers have been verified.
#2) 76 Nations Have Competed In The World Cup
A total of 76 different nations have played at least one game in the FIFA World Cup. With that said, only 8 nations have won the World Cup. Winning nations are awarded a star to wear on their uniforms which symbolizes this astounding accomplishment.
#3) It Costs $11 Billion To Host The World Cup
According to some estimates, it costs approximately $11 billion to host the World Cup. This includes construction all of the necessary stadiums, expanding hotels, bringing in food and beverages, purchasing insurance, developing infrastructure etc. The Brazilian government has been criticized for spending such a large amount of money on hosting the 2014 World Cup, as a significant portion of its some 199 million residents live in poverty.
#4) The Most Entertaining Team Award
You don't have to necessarily finish first to come away as a winner at the World Cup. Organizers currently hand out six different awards, one of which is “ the most entertaining team award ”. As the name suggests, this award is given to the team viewed as the most entertaining, determined by a public opinion poll.
Other awards include the following:
- The Golden Ball
- The Golden Boot
- The Golden Glove Award
- The Best Young Player Award
- The FIFA Fair Play Trophy
#5) Qualifying For The World Cup Takes Years
The qualification process for the FIFA World Cup typically begins 3 years before the final tournament. The exact format for qualifying varies from nation to nation; however, most nations award 1-2 spots to winners of intercontinental playoffs. The hosting nation receives automatic qualification to the FIFA World Cup tournament – a rule that was set in place in 1938.