The OTHER Football

By Matt Stanton | June 11th, 2014

BOOMER art director Matt Stanton announces this year's World Cup


I love football. Sorry, soccer. So much so that I am often derided for following a “boring” sport. Not enough action, not enough scoring, they say. I just shake my head and try to explain the beauty is in the build-up, the interplay, the skill. It is the “beautiful game” after all, an appellation used around the world (first uttered, possibly, by Pelé, though its origins are unclear). Maybe this is part of the reason soccer has not hit the heights in the U.S. that it has in the rest of the world … though the tides are shifting.

But, every four years this changes.

People stop working. Kids get out of school. Businesses close. Everything stops.

It’s the World Cup. JUNE 12 through July 13 ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

As we approach the biggest sporting event in the world, here are some facts and tips to help you enjoy what will surely be an enthralling tournament.

WHAT ABOUT THE U.S.?

Finding ourselves in the “Group of Death” was not a favorable way to start, but of all the teams the U.S. has fielded over the years, this one may be able to compete and show to the world that we belong in the world football conversation.

You’d like to think that 4 points would see qualification to the knockout rounds, so in essence all it would take out of three games would be a win and a draw.

Here is our schedule:

6/16 ESPN 6 PM ET Ghana

6/22 ESPN 6 PM ET Portugal

6/26 ESPN 12 PM ET Germany 

QUALIFICATION ZONES

Teams qualify for the tournament from the six FIFA continental zones:

1. Africa

2. Asia

3. Europe

4. North America, Central America and Caribbean

5. Oceania

6. South America

THE 8 GROUPS

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico Cameroon

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

5 Simple Rules to Know

1. Yellow Card: A caution for a bad foul or accumulation of smaller fouls. A second yellow card results in a red card.

2. Red Card: Issued for a very bad foul, violent conduct or denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. Results in player being sent off and suspension from at least the next match.

3. Offside: Per FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s governing body), a player is in an offside position if he is closer to the goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender, but only if he is in the opposition half of the field.

4. Timing: Games are played in two 45-minute halves. Since the clock continues to run during injuries and substitutions, the referee adds that lost time to the end of each half.

5. Stages: Group Stage (32 teams): Teams play against the other three teams in their groups. Teams awarded 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. Two teams with highest total advance to knockout stage.

Knockout Stage (16 teams): Three rounds (Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals) of single-elimination phase in which there must be a winner of each match. Ties are settled by, first, an extra 30 minutes (two 15-minute halves), then, if still tied, by a penalty shoot-out.

Third-place Match (two teams): Losers of two semifinal matches play, using the same rules as in the Knockout stage.

The Final (last two teams): Winners of semifinal matches play to determine tournament winner, using same rules as in Knockout stage.

5 WORLD CUP FACTS

1. The World Cup was first held in Uruguay in 1930.

2. It has been held every four years since, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1946 due to WWII.

3. Only eight countries have won the tournament: Brazil (5), Italy (4), Germany (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), France (1), England (1) and Spain (1).

4. Brazilian star Pelé has the most winner’s medals, with three.

5. Only two people have ever won the tournament as both a player and a coach: Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mário Zagallo

5 TEAMS TO WATCH FOR

1. Spain: Won the 2010 tournament and is looking to become only the third team to repeat as champions. An aging squad with massive experience on the biggest stage.

2. Brazil: The eyes of the home nation will be watching. There is always huge pressure for the Brazilians to perform, and to perform with style, which they usually do.

3. Germany: Boasting some of the world’s best young talent, Germany has disappointed in the last two World Cups but looks strong heading into the tournament.

4. Portugal: Can the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, finally shine with Portugal as he has in non-World Cup play with Manchester United and Real Madrid?

5. Uruguay: Finished third in South Africa in 2010 and looks to replicate that result in 2014.

10 PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

3. Luis Suarez, Uruguay

4. Diego Costa, Spain

5. Raheem Sterling, England

6. Thomas Müller, Germany

7. Eden Hazard, Belgium

8. Neymar, Brazil

9. Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast

10. Michael Bradley, USA

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