Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beginners’ Guide to the World Cup 2010

Regular World Cup Blog readers are soccer-savvy. I know this because they keep correcting me when I get things wrong. So I know they know all about the World Cup. However, the great thing about the World Cup is that it’s not just for the serious football fan. As a global event (maybe THE global event?), the World Cup attracts the attention of those who aren’t usually fans of the beautiful game. Bless their hearts.

So, based on a couple of conversations I’ve had with non-football fans who will be watching, this post is a Beginners’ Guide to the World Cup. It’s a series of questions about the big event. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, but hopefully informative too. Read on for the questions, and the answers.

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. US viewers can check out ESPN’s World Cup schedule, UK viewers can watch the World Cup in HD. Sri Lanakn viewers can watch on SLRC/Channel Eye or ESPN/Star.

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.

Can I bet on it? Yes you can.

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. Check out the World Cup 2010 schedule and our World Cup wall chart for more.

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.

Then Maradona? He s not playing but he is the Coach of Argentina team.

How about that headbutt guy from last time? Zinedine Zidane? No, he retired from football after the 2006 World Cup.

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

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

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.

Are you a World Cup beginner? If so, do you have any questions you want answering? Post them in the comments.

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