The FIFA Football World Cup™ is the top international soccer event. The event is so popular with football players and fans that its total cumulative global viewing audience now exceeds 26 billion people.

Beginning with the first Football World Cup played in Uruguay in 1930, the Cup has been held every four years (though it was interrupted by WWII). The 2010 FIFA World Cup™  is the 19th such competition and will be held in South Africa – the first time an African nation has hosted it – between the 11th of June and the 11th of July.

But how does it work? How do all those soccer teams around the world get whittled down to a single World Cup winner?

2010 FIFA Football World Cup™ Qualification

The qualification process for the 2010 World Cup began in August 2007 and finished in November 2009. 204 teams from the six FIFA soccer confederations around the world competed to qualify for one of the 32 World Cup tournament places.

The 32 successful national teams were:

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Chile
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Denmark
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Honduras
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea DPR
  • Korea Republic
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Paraguay
  • Portugal
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • Uruguay

The Pots

After qualifying, each of the 32 teams was placed into one of four “pots” (8 teams each). Pot 1 contained the host, South Africa, and the seven highest ranked football teams as determined by the FIFA World Rankings. Pots 2 to 4 contained the rest of the qualifying teams grouped on a geographical basis.

The Groups

A lottery process was then followed and football teams were drawn from each of the pots and placed across 8 “groups”, designated A through H, in the order in which they were drawn i.e. each pot ended up with one team in each of the 8 groups (each group, therefore, contained 4 teams).

After each team had been placed in a group, another draw was done to determine the position of that team within its particular group.

The combination of group and group position determines a team’s placement in the Football World Cup first round match schedule.

The First Round

In the first round of matches, each of the four teams within a group plays three matches against the various other members of that same group. This initial tournament results in a winner and a runner-up from each group. The other two members of that group are now out of the FIFA World Cup™ competition, overall the number of World Cup contestants has been reduced by half to 16 and the knock-out stage is entered.

The Round of 16

In the “Round of 16″, the first of the knock-out rounds, the winners of the group matches play a group match runner-up from outside their own group. The 8 successful contestants from this set of matches move on to the quarter-finals.

Progression to Victory

The winners of the 4 quarter-final games face each other in the semi-finals. The winners of the two semi-final games compete in the final for the honour of becoming the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup™ holder. Third place in the World Cup is determined by a match between the two losing semi-final teams.

And that, in a nutshell, is how to understand the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup™.

How to Understand the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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  1. Excellent article.

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  2. uk lad says:

    massive help. thanks

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  3. Peter says:

    its total global viewing audience now exceeds 26 billion people … How come, since the global population is about 6 billion!

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  4. Peter Jeffries says:

    Hi Peter, the 26 billion is a “cumulative” figure. Take a look at the FIFA website to check their figures!
    You are, of course correct that the world’s population is only around 6 billion.

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  5. SC says:

    Great Article. I knew basically nothing about the rules of the tournament but now I know some. The guys act so snobbish when the girls are watching and ask questions while the game is going on. We need a webiste for us that would let us learn the basic technical rules of the game in five minutes

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  6. SC says:

    PS. How are the points assigned? i.e Arg -6, Urg -4, Nig -1 etc?

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