And so it comes to pass again. Every four years, the globe prepares for arguably the greatest sporting spectacle on the planet. The FIFA World Cup 2014 takes place in Brazil and will last for an incredible 5 weeks. This is until the 32 team competition reaches its climax on July 13th in Rio. It will certainly be a carnival atmosphere as the teams have touched down on terra firma in order to begin their campaign.
Some of the greatest soccer players in the world will be gracing us with their electrifying pace as well as technique. This includes the likes of Brazilian Neymar not to mention Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
From the beach of Ipanema beach to the rainforest of Manaus, you will not miss a kick of the action. This is largely in part thanks to the almost round the clock coverage from a number of different media outlets.
Of course this particular World Cup has been dogged by controversy from the top to the very bottom. From Sepp Blatter and the alleged corruption scandal over the 2022 Qatar bid to the socio-economic problems facing Brazil, it has been a long and winding road.
Rewind four years and current holders Spain overcame Holland in an extremely torrid match which was marred by 2 red cards and a whopping 14 yellow cards. Although the Spaniards went on to win 1-0 from an Andres Iniesta extra time strike, it will be remembered for the overly aggressive tactics adopted by the Orange army.
However, when it comes to soccer in South America, it is considered to be a religion and can be seen as a fundamental part of the continent. So if you are ready and have made yourself a cachaca here are 10 things you probably never knew about the FIFA World Cup.
10. Food and Drink
Did you know that people consumed around 2 million beers at the last World Cup? If you break this down, it results in more than 2.4 million bottles being drunk, whilst nearly 400,000 hot dogs were sold across individual stadiums back in 2010.
9. Viewing Figures
There are more people who watch the World Cup than Super Bowl could ever wish for. In 2006, the World Cup Final was seen by an astonishing 715 million people. This is compared to a paltry 167 million who tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLVIII. The World Cup is a big deal and the 2010 tournament in South Africa was broadcast to every single country in the world including the Arctic Circle.
8. Record Attendance
The record attendance for a one off game during the World Cup was more than 199,000 spectators. This is still the largest single-game attendance in history and it happened at the Maracana in Brazil. The hosts faced Uruguay and lost on home turf 2-1 to a perplexed crowd. This is almost two and half times the size of the MetLife Stadium which holds around 82,500 people.
7. Ryan Giggs Has Never Made It To A World Cup
Unfortunately there will be one incredible legend that will never appear at the World Cup. Following his recent retirement at the age of nearly 41 years old, Welsh wizard Ryan Giggs will never taste what the World Cup is. Having won an incredible 34 trophies during his career and becoming one of the most decorated players in British soccer history, Giggs played a staggering 24 seasons for Manchester United. This featured a haul of 13 league titles as well as two UEFA Champions Leagues.
6. Number Of Nations
In 2014, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be appearing for the very first time in the World Cup. In this way they become the 77th country to be involved. Since its inception back in 1930, the World Cup has seen a total of 76 teams do battle with some countries no longer existing or reforming. This features Yugoslavia, 1990 victors West Germany and the Soviet Union.
5. Most Red Cards
It was not until the tournament in Mexico in 1970 that both red and yellow cards were officially introduced. Yet the first man to be shown the red card was Carlos Caszely of Chile in 1974. The most red cards dished out to players was at the 2006 tournament where 28 were distributed.
4. World Cup Mascot
They’ve had a lion better known as World Cup Willie, a dog from USA 94 and a stickman named Ciao in Italia 90. But Fuleco is the official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It appears this three-banded armadillo has grown in popularity since the launch and apparently will be a teenager when it all kicks off on June the 12th. Fuleco features a blue shell which is a symbol for Brazil’s fertility, skies, nature and the water. His name was decided after a vote was taken, where Fuleco swept home to victory with 48% having beaten off prospective names including Zuzeco and Amijubi.
3. Youngest Scorer
To his family, he is known as Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Yet most people know him as the one and only Pelé. He currently holds the record for the youngest ever goal scorer at the World Cup during the 1958 tournament. This was held in Sweden where Pele scored against Wales at the tender age of just 17 years and 239 days. On the flip side, Cameroon’s hip swerving Roger Milla is the oldest scorer in the tournaments history at 42 years of age.
2. Official Ball
Known as the Brazuca, this is the official ball of the 2014 World Cup. It is comprised of six polyurethane panels with a myriad of colours which definitely grabs the attention. In fact, the Brazuca has kept up with modern trends and even has its own personal social media account.
1. Highest Fan Attendance
In spite of the fact that Americans take a bigger interest in home grown sports such as basketball, the NFL and baseball, the US has the highest overall attendance figures to date. This was of course during the 1994 FIFA World Cup which was held in the United States. Nearly 3.6 million fans came to the stadiums with the average attendance in the region of 70,000 people for each game. The denouement of this tournament saw an impressive 94,000 plus all gathered into the Rose Bowl where Italy lost to Brazil after a tense penalty shoot-out.