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The Grandest Stage of All

World Cup Overview

Bacilio Rubio Jauregui, Staff Writer

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This is what every soccer player dreams of, being called up to their national team and play in a World Cup. Every year they try their hardest so they can get noticed by the national team coaches and hopefully earn a spot in that team. But there are a lot of competition out there especially for a big country such as Spain, France, and Germany.


The first ever World Cup to be played was in the year 1930 in Uruguay. During this time only 13 countries had participated in which the host country Uruguay won the very first cup by beating Argentina 4-2. But the Word Cup had to come to a brief halt because of World War II. After World War II, the tournament expanded the teams to 28 and later added four more teams to make it 32 in 1998. This allowed countries from Africa to join the tournament as well as other countries. Up to this day, every World Cup included 32 teams, but in October of  2013 ex FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that he wanted to expand the teams to 48. Many thought this idea was horrible but current FIFA president Gianni Infantino agreed with the idea, so on January 10 of 2017, FIFA declared that the 2026 World Cup would include 48 teams.


Before any team can qualify for the World Cup, FIFA has 6 different tournaments across the 6 FIFA continental zones which include Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Carribeans, South America, Oceania, and Europe. Every country in each continent are qualified to enter in their respective tournament but FIFA decides how many countries can qualify for each continent before the tournament begins. These tournaments can start up to 3 years before the start of the new World Cup and can perhaps last up to two years. Between 1938 and 2002, the host country would automatically be qualified for the World Cup but that was later withdrawn in the 2006 World Cup up to this day. Now every team has to play qualifying matches in order for them to enter the World Cup.


After all qualifying teams are set, there is a specific date where members of FIFA and the coaches or representatives of each qualified country attend to find out who they are going to be facing. In total there are eight groups, with 4 teams in each group. The countries who have performed better than others are seeded first while the rest are seeded using a formula based on their FIFA ranking or how they performed in previous tournaments.

To avoid having any biases in groups, FIFA made sure to add constraints to the groups where no group can have more than two European teams or more than one team from any other confederation. When all groups are set, the way each group plays out is that each group plays a round-robin tournament, which means that each team are set to play 3 matches against the teams in their group. The last match for all groups are played at the same time that way it preserves fairness for the other teams and no team knows who is qualified until every game is done, which also allows every team to play with their full potential.

After the group stage, the teams who finished in the top two spots in their group qualify to the knockout stage, a single-elimination tournament. During this stage, the team who finished in first for Group A will face the team who finished second in group B and the team who finished second in group A will face the team who finished first in group B. This sequence will continue for the rest of the groups until they are only 8 teams left for the quarter finals. This single-elimination tournament will continue until they are 2 teams left which would be the World Cup Final.

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The Grandest Stage of All