The Beautiful Game

Every four years the world comes together to watch a spectacular sporting event that is not the Olympic Games.  Simply known as “The Beautiful Game,” or  football (please don’t call it soccer), play consists of two periods of 45 minutes each, known as halves with a 15 minute half time break.  It’s disputed as to who first called football “The Beautiful Game,” but it’s now synonymous with association football.  Competition involves more than 190 national teams competing in qualifying tournaments for a place in the finals. The finals tournament, held every four years, involves 32 national teams competing for four weeks. So, from June 11 to July 11, the whole world will be watching this event in South Africa. 

While little coverage is given to World Cup games in the U.S. media, the Everett Public Library has a few resources:  The ESPN World Cup Companion and World Cup 2010 for adults and World Cup for kids. The recognized international governing body of football, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has the most current information.

Ten stadia in or near 10 different cities will host these games. One is Ellis Park, located in the center of Johannesburg and originally built as a rugby union stadium.  If you’ve seen the movie Invictus, you’ll know that this is where the South African rugby team won the 1995 Rugby World Cup over New Zealand.

And, what would be a sporting event without a theme song?   Somalian-born, Canadian-based hip-hop artist K’Naan is currently touring the world on his way to South Africa, video-blogging and promoting his song “Wavin’ flag.”

While, there is much anticipation for this sporting event, one shouldn’t forget the FIFA Women’s World Cup, recognized as the most important International competition in women’s football. Held every four years, the first Women’s World Cup tournament, called the Women’s World Championship, was held in 1991, 61 years after the men’s first FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930. The current format has 16 teams competing every four years for the winner’s trophy. The next FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place in nine cities in Germany  from June 26 to July 17, 2011.