The FIFA World Cup is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world and is contested by the senior men's national teams from the 208 Member Associations of FIFA. The competition has been played every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War.
It fulfils FIFA’s objectives to touch the world, develop the game, and build a better future through a variety of ways.
The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of one month – this phase is often called the Final Competition. A qualification phase, the Preliminary Competition which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).
Facts and figures:
The 19 FIFA World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams. Brazil have won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other winners are Italy, with four titles; Germany, with three wins; Argentina and inaugural winners Uruguay, with two; and England, France, and Spain, with one title each.
The FIFA World Cup is the world's most widely viewed sporting event; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany and the 2010 event in South Africa was broadcast to 204 countries on 245 different channels. Inside the stadiums, a total of 3,170,856 spectators attended the 64 matches an average of 49,670 per match and the third highest aggregate attendance behind USA 1994 and Germany 2006.
There were also over six million people who attended public viewing events in 16 sites across the world: ten within South Africa and a further six across the globe in Rome, Paris, Berlin, Sydney, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. A total of 350,000 fans attended the International FIFA Fan Fest in Berlin for the semi-final match between Germany and Spain.
The next three World Cups will be hosted by Brazil in 2014, Russia in 2018, and Qatar in 2022.