FIFA World Ranking : World Cup 2006
The 18th FIFA World Cup games took place June 9–July 9, 2006, with multitudes of fans tuning in to the game the Americans know as "soccer" and most of the world calls "football."
The World Cup games — also known by the French name "Mondial" — were played at stadiums around Germany, opening in Munich's new Allianz Arena and closing in Berlin's reconstructed Olympic Stadium. Other German cities that hosted the games are Cologne (Muengersdorfer Stadium), Dortmund (Westfalen Stadium), Frankfurt (Wald Stadium), Gelsenkirchen (Arena AufSchalke), Hamburg (Stadium Hamburg), Hanover (Niedersachsen Stadium), Kaiserslautern (Fritz-Walter Stadium), Leipzig (Zentral Stadium), Nuremberg (Franken Stadium) and Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium).
Ticket prices for this year's games ran from about $45 (EU35) to about $775 (EU600).
Qualifying tournaments in each of the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, and Europe) determine which teams will play in the World Cup games. Competing teams are divided into 8 groups. In 2006 the groups were divided thus:
Group A: Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador
Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden
Group C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia & Montenegro, The Netherlands
Group D: Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal
Group E: Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic
Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan
Group G: France, Switzerland, S. Korea, Togo
Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia
These groups play a round-robin tournament, with the top two teams from each group advancing to a second stage, known as the knockout stage. At this point, teams play against each other in one-off competitions, with teams being eliminated until the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The losing semifinalists also play to determine third place.
A Little Bit of History
There are drawings and depictions of men playing a game that resembled football as far back as 200 BCE in China. Written records describe a game where a ball is kicked at a "ball wall" or goal.
The first international game was played in 1872; Scotland hosted England. The game, which tied 0-0, was watched by 4,000 people.
Uruguay hosted the first World Cup games in 1930 and became the first nation to win a World Cup, defeating Argentina 4-2. The games are played every four years and have continued to grow in popularity. The 2002 games were a TV-ratings bonanza, with some 30 billion viewings of some or all of the games; Brazil walked away with that year's trophy.
What's a Game Without Rules?
Over the years, the English, in particular, played variations of football and it became a no-holds-barred, undisciplined sport, where the rules varied from club to club, school to school. Games played between schools were often disputed due to a difference in the teams' understanding of the rules. In the 1840s, Cambridge University undergraduates attempted to standardize the rules, and these rules were finally accepted on Oct. 26, 1863, at a meeting of 12 schools and clubs in London's Freemason's Tavern. In 1886, the International Football Association Board was created to see that the rules of the game were upheld. Since Englishmen were assumed to be gentlemen — and it was presumed no player would purposely commit a foul — it wasn't until 1891 that there was such a thing as a penalty. Nets and referees were also made a part of the game that year.
Some of the basic rules that were established included the number of players each team should have and the size of the playing field. Each team consists of at least seven players, but no more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. In international games the field is 110-120 yards (100-110 m) long x 70-80 yards (64-75 m) wide; in domestic games the field is 100-130 yards (90-120 m) long x 50-100 yards (45-90 m) wide.
World Cup Winners
Brazil leads the world in World Cup wins, having taken the cup home five times. The list of winners:
Brazil – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002
Germany – 1954, 1974 and 1990
Italy – 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006
Argentina – 1978 and 1986
Uruguay – 1930 and 1950
England – 1966
France – 1998
Because of World War II, there were no World Cup games in 1942 and 1946.
For the first 40 years, winners of the World Cup received the Jules Rimet Trophy, named for FIFA's first president, Jules Rimet. When Brazil won its third tournament in 1970, it was entitled to keep the cup. A new one was designed and it was decided that the trophy would be passed to the winning country each year, regardless of the number of times a country won; the trophy will be retired when the plaque is filled with names, in 2038.
This year's mascots are Goleo VI, a human-size lion puppet designed by the US-based Jim Henson Company, and Pille, a talking soccer ball that possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. The two are FIFA's first-ever actual characters that can talk, dance and play music. Previous world cup mascots were artistic renditions, starting with England's World Cup Willie (1966), and ending, so far, with Korea/Japan's Kaz, Ato and Nik (2002).
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