Prepared or not, the Twentieth Football World Cup begins today in São Paulo, Brazil! In the opening match (today at 4:00 pm Eastern Time), Croatia faces the host country, Brazil, in the new Arena de São Paulo—an arena so new, in fact, that it has never been tested with a capacity crowd. And, if that were not alarming enough, extra (temporary) seating has been squeezed-in, boosting the seating capacity from 48,000 to over 61,000. Fingers crossed, the month-long tournament will start smoothly and safely—and stay that way.
Football (or Soccer, as it’s called in a few countries) is the world’s most popular sport, referred to as “The Beautiful Game.” 31 national teams have converged upon Brazil and the matches will be held at 12 different venues scattered throughout the country. The teams will all receive an apportioned share of the $576 million (U.S.) purse—with the champions, naturally, winning the biggest portion of the pot.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (or FIFA) has held the World Cup tournament every four years since 1930, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 due to World War II. At the last tournament, in South Africa, Spain came away victorious and are expected to make a good showing again this year. Also frequently-mentioned are Germany, France, Belgium , Brazil, and Argentina (who have decorated their living quarters with a picture of the new, Argentinian pope).
Good luck to all, and remember: a football is round!
The cast spelter Footballer sculpture, pictured above, is from the shop owner’s private collection and was made in England in the 1950’s.