What is a World Cup? Soccer or Football?

I was never too much into sports myself, I am very active though, I am a fitness instructor, I did ballroom dancing for many years, but I've never practiced a more conventional "Team Sport". The closest I got to a sport was to watch the Super Bowl with my dad and his friends. I understand most of the rules, but to be honest...I mainly cared (and still do) about the half-time show. Music, dancers, lights, lasers, that's my jam!

I was living my life happily ignoring all major sports...  until I met my husband. He is Argentine, and Argentines are known for a few things, Meat, Tango and Football. 

Yes, I just called Soccer, Football, why? because is the correct name. Football was invented in England way before American Football. And come on...why do you call American Football like that, it makes no sense, they barely touch the ball with their feet. Anyway, let's continue with the objective of this post.

Because my man liked Football and I wanted to be a supportive wife, I learned a little bit about it. I am not planning to get into descriptions of the game itself, but on what is the World Cup. But..Why now? because the next World Cup is coming, November 2022, so I thought, maybe this info can be useful for other women like me. Also, some of us have kids now, and some of those kids are playing Football (soccer), and your kids are going to start naming players and things related to Football, so why not take this opportunity to learn a little bit about this upcoming Event.

First of all, when we talk about the World Cup, you have to understand that we are talking about the most important event in the world. I want you to notice that I wrote, the most important Event....I didn't write the most important "Sports" event. Football is the most popular sport in the world by far, it is love and played in the five Continents (or seven depending who taught you). 

It happens every 4 years. This year, is the year of the World Cup, and it will be held in Qatar, a small oil rich country that looks like and appendix coming out of Saudi Arabia. It is normally held in the month of July, but this year, because of the intense heat of that country, they moved it to November.

The World Cup is played by countries, and not by teams, in that sense, it is similar to the Olympics. That is why all professional football players, play for their teams which pay their salaries, where they trained and play tournaments, but at the same time, if they are good enough, they can be called to play for their National Team to participate in the World Cup. But not all countries will get to play the "Most Important Event in the World" , during the three prior years, all countries play playoffs until we get only 32 (out of 195 countries), and only 1 can be the champion, and it will be, for the next four years! Talking about bragging rights! 

So how can a country get to participate on a World Cup? FIFA, which stands for Federation International Football Association, is the association that rules over Football worldwide, the president of FIFA is more powerful than most of the countries in the world. Well, they divided the world in 6 regions and each region has its own Confederation recognized by FIFA. These are the regions:

  • AFC - Asian Football Confederation in Asia and Australia
  • CAF - Confédération Africaine de Football in Africa
  • CONCACAF - Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in North America and Central America
  • CONMEBOL - Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol in South America
  • OFC - Oceania Football Confederation in Oceania
  • UEFA - Union of European Football Associations in Europe

Seems a little bit daunting, but do not worry, that's why I am writing this. Each region have an allotment of countries that can go to the World Cup, this means that the countries in that region will play each other to decide which countries will get to participate. Stakes are high, because if you don't make it...you have to wait another 4 years to be in one again. 

Maybe is better when we use a real country. Canada for example; Canada is part of the CONCACAF (North & Central American countries), and for three years Canada has to play against countries in the same region, like Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica, etc...when the qualifiers are done, only the first 3 countries will participate directly in the World Cup. The fourth will have to play for a second chance against other country from other region in the same situation and all the other ones will have to watch it on TV. 

Once all the games from the qualifiers from all Confederations are done, we get all 32 participants, and then...There will be a draw for the World Cup. There would be 8 groups of 4 countries each. If we continue using our example...Canada might end up in the group "F" with other 3 nations, like England, Nigeria and Japan. And Canada will have to play against them once. Only the first and second place qualify for the next stage (8th finals). And from that stage onwards all games are definitive, if you lose you go home, no more second chances, no more 1st and 2nd...lose and it is over. 

This event is watched by approx. 3.5 billions around the world (half its population), the world stand still for a month. And to be honest...after I understood the whole process to make it to the World Cup and see how passionate people are about Football, It kind of rub a little bit on me too. 

Hope it helps and enjoy the World Cup in November!

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