Thursday, June 10, 2010

The world's game

This weekend marks the start of the 2010 World Cup finals held in South Africa. Over the previous two years all the countries in the world which were interested (almost 200) had their teams play in qualifying matches to determine which 31 teams join the host country.

The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each and the teams in each group play each other once. The best two teams in each group advance to a 16 team single elinination event and play until one country wins on July 11.

As with most international events, the host country has an distinct advantage. This chart explains how they have done since it was first held in 1930:

For 5 of the champions, 1 of the finals losers and 2 of the semi-final losers, the event as the host country is the best performance in the event. Also only one time has a team crossed the Atlantic Ocean to win the final and that team had Pele on its roster. (Note: The 2002 finals held in South Korea/Japan had Brazil win but I don't count that since all the South American and European power countries played over 6 time zones away from their home country.)

Though the home team has made the second round all 18 times, I can't see how the overmatched South Arfican club can advance in a difficult group with France Uruguay and Mexico.

Knowing that it is late fall and soon winter in South Africa right now, it will be in the 60s during the day and 50s in evening. Though rain is unlikely as it is also dry, I believe it benefits the northern European countries like England while hurting those used to hot weather like Spain and Brazil.

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