The World Cup for beginners


If it hasn’t already happened where you are, over the next couple of weeks you’re likely to start seeing and hearing a lot of buzz about the 2018 FIFA World Cup – on TV and even in your community.

Unlike baseball’s World Series, the World Cup of soccer (or football, as most of the rest of the globe calls it) truly is planetary affair with 211 national teams vying to make the final field of 32 teams.

If you’re already a huge fan, you can go and read another Shop Talk blog post because this one is really to help wannabe fans get up to speed.

Why soccer? Maybe because it’s truly Earth’s number one pastime, with an estimated 265 million players – or 4% of humanity – actively engaged. Maybe also because it’s a pretty simple sport to understand and enjoy – all you really need is a ball, some goal markers, a few friends and the desire to get a ball into a net without using your hands.

Why the World Cup? The Super Bowl has nothing on this competition – more than 3.2 billion fans took in some of the 2014 event and 1 billion watched the final game.

How do teams qualify? Regional tournaments take place on every continent (except Antarctica) over a two- or three-year period. Still, the World Cup is still pretty dominated by Europe because nearly half of participants hail from European countries.

Where is it held? Like the Olympic Games, a World Cup host country is chosen every four years, usually alternating between Europe and the Americas, the exception being South Korea and Japan who cohosted in 2002.

Where and when is it being held in 2018? Matches will get under way June 14 and end on July 15 in 12 cities all across Russia. The final match on July 15 will take place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

How are matches played? Like most soccer games, World Cup matches are played in two 45-minute halves. Because the clock doesn’t stop running, at the end of each half, referees add extra time for play based on the length of stoppages. During the group stage, there’s no overtime and points are allotted based on a win (three points) or a tie (one point each). In knockout round games, if there’s a tie after the two halves, two more 15-minute halves are added. If it’s still tied, the game is decided by penalty kicks.

What about the ladies? FIFA hosts a Women’s World Cup every four years. The last tournament was held in 2015 in Canada and the next one will be in 2019 in France.

What countries are participating this year? Visit the FIFA website for information about the teams and match schedule.

Got more questions? Want to plan a World Cup viewing party? Your Shop Talk blog community forum could have the answers you’re looking for!

Did you know: Brazil! 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, powerhouse Brazil has won the most World Cup titles – a total of five. Germany and Italy tie for second with four titles each.

12 thoughts on “The World Cup for beginners

  1. Watching TSN right now and find it hard to listen to different pronunciations of players. My questions:

    Romelo Lukaku is it Rome uh low or Row mello

    * unless you know Flemish/Dutch/Afrikaans Kevin De Bruyne’s name
    gets mispronounced (not DeBroy nuh).

  2. Although it’s called soccer in North America if you’re trying to explain the game to new people you should explain that arcross the pond and in all European countries its called FOOTBALL.

  3. The play by play this(Mexico vs S. Korea) morning on FOX was done by 2 guys with very strong accents, but it was honestly the best information with constant explanations of how the Referee’s think and when a Yellow card should be used and what the Yellow card can mean to certain Players… Really enjoyed listening to that game. It was interesting to hear why Players stand in certain locations, and how they determine their plays. This was an exciting game compared to the higher levels that are much slower.
    Carlos V. is adorable!

  4. I am unable to get to the write up-Blog about the Soccer Stars.
    Thanks for the info on FIFA. I have 8 grandchildren who all have played soccer but did not know the history on FIFA. Great Summary!!

  5. Soccer is one very healthy game to play. I played from age 5 to 15 just with friends on the street growing up. Thank you for the information to help others😊.I have a cousin who was inducted into the woman’s Hall of Fame last year.⚽

  6. I’ve been watching Wold Cup Soccer for over 60 years and have only missed the live first two broadcasts last Sunday as I had to go to Church.
    I played soccer(football) since I attended school and represented the school’s U16 Inter School Championships and later played for Senior Division City Club playing for this Club not only soccer as it is called in Canada and USA, but also field hockey. Besides I took part in athletics winning medals at the Junior level in 100, 200 metres sprints, 110 m low hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump. I watched legends like Pele, Zico, Figo, George Best to name just a few, I think the big mouth Steven Caldwell analyst for Sportsnet should be removed as he thinks he knows a lot of soccer. I remember him playing for Toronto FC as Captain and defender trying to defend with his hands outstretched. A look at the old videos will confirm my statement. I have been writing to MLSE that TFC’s 12 US Americans should be cut down to just 2 i.e. Captain Bradley and Altidore. Give more opportunities to Canadians and if they are not good for certain positions, bring in players, from Central & S. America, Europe. Africa, Asia, Japan, Koreas and Australasia. I am pro Canadian not anti American.

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