The 20th edition of FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil, signalling the beginning of a month-long football extravaganza that will culminate in a final that will be played on July 13, 2014.
Brazil’s selection to host this year’s edition means that it is the second time that the largest South American economy will be staging this global showpiece. The first time was in 1950 when Brazil lost to Uruguay in the final. This also means that it is the first time in 36 years that the tournament is being staged in South America. The last time it was hosted there was in 1978 when Argentina and the host nation won the tournament.
31 countries join Brazil
After qualification competitions that started in June 2015, the national football teams of 31 nations will be joining Brazil to participate in the finals. 64 games will be played in total and these will take part in 12 cities across Brazil. History is on the verge of being made as this is the first time that goal-line technology will be used.
All previous winners have qualified
The host country included, all other world cup winners since the inception of the competition have qualified. They are Italy, Argentina, England, Spain, Germany, Uruguay and France. The defending champions are Spain. They beat Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 competitions held in South Africa.
This is the fifth time that the world cup will be staged in South America. All the previous four editions have been won by South American countries so it remains to be seen if this jinx will be broken by European teams this time round.
Top football stars come together
The World Cup will see some of the best talents in the world of football descend on Brazil for the world’s biggest football event. These are the finest players from top leagues in Europe. Barcelona and Argentina star, Lionel Messi, is leading the pack of the most talented football players on the planet.
He will be joined by the likes of Argentina marksman and Manchester City forward, Sergio 'Kun’ Aguero. Other stars expected here are the likes of reigning World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo who has just won a Champions League medal with Real Madrid and he will be donning Portugal colours. England will be represented by the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard while Spain will be banking on Brazilian-born hotshot and Atletico Madrid player Diego Costa to lead the attack line for La Furia Roja.
Yaya Toure, Santi Carzola, Mesut Ozil, David Silva, Eden Hazard and Edin Dzeko are some of the football stars from the English Premier League who will be gracing the event. One notable omission is Samir Nasri, the Manchester City player who, though was in scintillating form for his club, was left out by Didier Deschamps, the French national team coach.
Brazil are the hot favourites
Pundits are putting their money on Brazil to win the World Cup 2014 for a record sixth time given that they are the host nation. With big-name players plying their trade in major European leagues led by Barcelona's Neymar, Brazil is certainly not shot of talent. Also, given that no European country has won World Cup in South America, this could be the year that Brazil finally wins the most coveted football trophy in front of their supporters. Their only opportunity to win it at home ended when they lost to Uruguay in 1950. Most Brazilians will be hoping for a repeat of 2013 success of their team in the FIFA Confederations Cup that saw them brush aside Spain 3-0 to win the cup.
FIFA announced that the total prize money is US$576 million, which includes US$70 that will be paid to domestic clubs. This is an increase of 37% from the prize money that was allocated to the 2010 edition in South Africa. Each team is entitled to US$1.5 million to cater for their preparation costs, the amount of which will be paid before the start of the competition.
The eventual winners will pocket US$35 million with the runners up taking home US$25 million. Other teams will also pocket different amounts of money depending on the level of the competition they exit.
As has been the norm with previous World Cup editions, FIFA will pay domestic clubs whose players are playing for their national teams in the tournament. A total of sum of US$70 million is slated to be paid.