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Football of the nations

The sport we call soccer has millions of fans around the world

June 29, 2010|By KATRINA BUSHKO/ Pulse correspondent

We call it soccer, but everyone else calls it football.

Soccer is dubbed the "world's most popular sport" with billions of fans from Chile to New Zealand to Egypt. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the organization responsible for bringing together these fans from around the world.

Since June 11, 32 teams from around the globe have been competing in South Africa for the title of 2010 FIFA World Cup Champions.

More than 55,000 people can fit into each South African stadium, which are located in cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg, and Cape Town.

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The World Cup only happens once every four years, so watch it while you can. And hurry, it's over by July 11.

These 32 country teams were separated into eight groups of four, and each group was assigned a letter A through H. The top two countries in each group advanced to the next stage to keep their World Cup dreams alive. The round of 16 (also known as the knockout round) is where teams are eliminated one-by-one. There are no second chances at this point.

The United States played in Group C this year and was the No. 1 seed; this means that they and the No. 2 seed (England) advanced to the knockout round.

The USA earned five group points: they tied against England (1 point), tied against Slovenia (1 point), and won against Algeria (3 points). If they had lost any games, they would not have received any points and would have likely been eliminated in the group stage.

However, Landon Donovan's game-winning goal in the 91st minute against Algeria during the June 23 game was enough to catapult them to the top of Group C and play against Ghana.

The 2 to 1 loss this weekend to Ghana was heartbreaking, but our nation's team has proved to the world that they are one of the best.

Although I won't be able to see the United States playing again in the tournament, I'll be watching some of my other favorite teams, including Brazil, Portugal, Germany and Spain.

I've been watching the FIFA World Cup since the opening match, and it's so exciting to me because of the intensity of the games. Each team has its own style of playing, and it's interesting to see the different match-ups.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is exciting to watch and to follow. If you want to find any more information on the teams, matches, or players, you can visit either FIFA.com or ESPN.com/world cup.




Know the game



  • There are 11 players on the field, including the goalkeeper.

  • In World Cup matches, there are four referees per game.

  • Each team is allowed three substitutes for the entire game.

  • If there is a tie in the knockout round, an extra half hour will be added to play, and whoever is ahead after that time wins. If there is still no winner, they go to penalty kicks, in which both teams select five players to shoot one-on-one with the goalie.

  • Yellow Card - given to a player when he has committed a penalty that is more serious than a foul.

  • Red Card - given to a player either when he has been given two yellow cards in one game or when he has committed a serious foul against an opposing player. When a player gets a red card, he is ejected and his team must play with only 10 members on the field; also, he is not allowed to play in the following game.

  • Off-side - when an offensive player runs ahead of the next-to-last defensive player before the ball is passed to him.

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