Thursday, February 23, 2006

Time to Catch Up

The purpose of this post is to get everyone on the same page, concerning the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is a 32-nation soccer tournament that is held every four years. The 2006 rendition will be hosted by Germany, and is scheduled to take place from the 9th of June until the 9th of July. FIFA (pronounced "FEE-fuh") is the world governing body of soccer, and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA is an abbreviation for Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

Actually, any nation that is able to field a team may participate in the tournament -- what we're going to see this summer are the "Finals." Nations play in a series of continental and/or regional tournaments in order to qualify. Qualifying games for this summer's tournament started in the summer of 2004 for the United States. The South Americans were the first to actually began holding qualifying tournaments for the 2006 World Cup Finals back in September of 2003! Africa and Asia also began in late 2003.

So this summer is the Finals portion of the tournament -- the final 32 countries. The goal is to have the best 32 teams in the world, but every tournament has exceptions. The country of Turkey finished in 3rd place at the last tournament in 2002, however they failed to even make the final 32 teams this year. On the other hand, you usually don't see any "minnows" make the field of 32, but this year's tournament will include the tiny island nation of Trinidad & Tobago.

I suppose a bit of perspective is in order, though. I'm sure my European reader(s) would argue that if the team wasn't from Europe or South America, then it's probably one of the aforementioned "minnows." I suppose FIFA wanted global representation at the Finals, so the the 32 teams come from all across the globe.

Which reminds me... Many Americans like to call the winner of the Superbowl the "World Champions." Same with the NBA -- the winner of that league somehow get the global crown (i.e., the "World Champion" Chicago Bulls in the '90's). Baseball has it's "World Series." Unfortunately, none of these are truly global tournaments. So it is a bit inaccurate to refer to our pro-sports league champions as "World" champions. It's not only inaccurate, but also arrogant, in my opinion.

What's neat about the World Cup is that it is truly a global tournament. From Canada to Sri Lanka, and from Madagascar to Luxembourg... From the microscopic islands in the South Pacific (even the nation of Tonga), to all the Lesser Antilles in the Carribean, where the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands each fielded teams), this World Cup tournament is accurately named indeed.

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