Football World Cup
21 times sence 1930
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, sometimes called the Football World Cup or the Soccer World Cup, but usually referred to simply as the World Cup, is an international football (soccer) competition contested by the men’s national football teams of the member nations of “Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)”, the sport’s global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.
The tournament’s final phase, often called the World Cup Finals, is the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world, with an estimated 1.12 billion people watching the 2018 tournament final. The current format of the Finals involves thirty-two national teams competing at venues within the host nation (or nations) over a period of about a month. To determine the participating teams, qualifying rounds take place over the three years preceding the Finals.
Since the second World Cup in 1934, qualifying tournaments have been held to thin the field for the final tournament. They are held within the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), overseen by their respective confederations. For each tournament, FIFA decides the number of places awarded to each of the continental zones beforehand, generally based on the relative strength of the confederations’ teams, but also subject to lobbying from the confederations.
The qualification process can start as early as almost three years before the final tournament and last over a two-year period. The formats of the qualification tournaments differ between confederations. Usually, one or two places are awarded to winners of intercontinental play-offs. For example, the winner of the Oceanian zone and the fifth-placed team from the South American zone entered a play-off to decide which team would qualify for the 2006 World Cup. From the 1938 World Cup onwards, host nations have received an automatic berth in the finals. This right also used to be granted to the defending champion, but from the 2006 finals onwards, this entitlement has been withdrawn, requiring the champions to qualify as well.