Beginners’ Guide to the World Cup

The great thing about the World Cup is that, it’s not just for the serious football fans. As a global event, the World Cup attracts the attention of those who aren’t usually fans of the beautiful game. Bless their hearts and hopefully they will fall in love with the game.

This post is dedicated for non-football fans who will be watching the World Cup. It’s a series of questions and answers about the big event, hopefully it will be informative.


When is the World Cup? Soon. June 11th to July 11th.

Where is the World Cup? South Africa. It’s the first World Cup to be hosted by an African country.

Is South Africa the Nelson Mandela country? Yes, it is.

Will the World Cup be on TV? Of course it will. Find out what channel is showing the World Cup in your country.

How many teams are in the World Cup? There will be 32 teams in the World Cup.

How many World Cup games per day? Three, to begin with.

Who’s favorite to win the World Cup? Spain and Brazil are the teams with the shortest odds.

How does this World Cup work then? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four. Each group plays round robin with three points for a win, one point for a draw, zero for a loss. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout round. From there it’s single elimination.

Wait… single elimination? Isn’t football full of draws? Not in the knockout rounds. From the Second Round of the World Cup onwards, the teams play 90 minutes. If the score is level, they play 30 minutes of “extra time”. If scores are still level, it’s penalty kicks to decide the winner. The victor moves forward, the loser goes home.

Will David Beckham be playing in the World Cup? No. He’s injured.

How about Pele? No. He’s retired.

How about Zinedine Zidane? No, he retired from football after the 2006 World Cup.

So… no Beckham, no Pele, no Zidane. Which players are worth watching at this World Cup then? Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Kaka, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Xavi Hernandez. Take your pick.

Who should I support at the World Cup? We can’t tell you that. But once you decide, you may buy/wear a World Cup jersey to show your support.

Which World Cup games should I watch? Everything from the Second Round onwards has the potential for heart-stopping drama. In the group stage, the games to watch are the opener: South Africa vs Mexico (June 11th), the colonial revenge matches: USA vs England (June 12th), Portugal vs Brazil (June 25th), and anything involving Argentina, because Diego Maradona is the coach and Leo Messi is the star player.

Are there any Colombian singers involved in all of this? What an odd question. But yes, as it happens, Shakira is singing the official song of World Cup 2010.

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