Which is the greatest team sports’ event? For most US Americans the “Super Bowll” would be an easy answer. Others, mostly attracted by baseball, basketball, or hockey, would choose one of those sports’ finals or all-star games, but this is not the case for the rest of the world. Outside of the US when people say football they refer to the sport that is known as soccer in United States and which is by far the most popular sport in all of the five continents. The World Cup that takes place over a four-year period is considered as the most important athletic competition, being more widely-viewed on TV exceeding even the Olympic Games. In 2002, when North Korea and Japan co-hosted the World Cup the cumulative TV audience was estimated to be 28.8 billion, while 1.1 billion individuals watched the final match of the tournament between Brazil and Germany.
This year the World Cup takes place in Germany with the first mach between Germany and Costa Rica being scheduled on 9th of June and the last one, the final game which is going to take place one month later on the 9th of July in Berlin. Thirty-two national teams are participating in this great “party” of world soccer and they will play in a total of twelve German cities. Among the national teams, which participate 14 come from Europe, 5 from Africa, 4 from South America, 4 from Asia, 4 from North and Central America and 1 from Oceania.
Brazil is the defending Word Champion and one of the great favorites of wining the trophy this year. The Brazilians have already won the World Cup five times and are the most successful team in the competition’s history. This year, legendary coach Pareira has at his disposal some of the most talented football players of the world: Kaka, Adriano, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and of course Ronaldinho the World Player of the Year for the last two years.
As strong contenders for the title are considered, by soccer experts and bookmakers, the team of Germany, which will play in front of its audience as the host-nation, and that of England, Argentina and Italy. In addition, the Brazilians, the French striker Thierry Henry, the Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko, the English midfielder Frank Lampard, the German midfielder Michael Ballack and the new star of the Argentinean football Lionel Messi are players one will enjoy watching.
The United States’ national team is assigned in the Group E and will face Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic in the first stage of the tournament, giving its first game in Gelsenkirchen on the 12th of June against the Czechs. Coach Bruce Arena has his team believing that their mix of young talents such as DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan and old campaigners like Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride could be enough to go further than the quarter-finals where they reached in 2002.
There are many assumptions about soccer’s low popularity in the United States, but the most convincing one seem to be the fact that the American national team didn’t have any serious accomplishments during the last years in order to attract their country’s attention and interest. The boys of Bruce Arena will have their opportunity now inside the German stadiums.