World Cup 2014: How does it work?


The World Cup is the greatest tournament in all of sports, but unlike tournaments in America, like the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game, it is structured a little differently. So we’re going to try to explain how the entire process works for you.

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First off, teams around the world are divided into confederations. The United States and the rest of North America fall in CONCACAF, Europe in UEFA, South America in CONMEBOL and so on and their teams have to qualify for a certain number of available spots. There are some spots that can be decided by playoffs between teams in different confederations, like Mexico beat New Zealand in a playoff to get into the World Cup.

Second, after the 32 spots are determined they get divided into eight groups of four teams. FIFA draws teams in a way to prevent teams from the same confederation being drawn into a group. Europe gets the most spots in the World Cup so there are instances where two teams are in the same group because there are more than eight UEFA teams.

The groups play in the first round in a round robin style. Each team plays the other three teams in the group once, and the two teams with the most points in a group advance to the round of 16 and the elimination part of the tournament.

So how do teams get points? This is like hockey in essence, three points for a win, one point for a draw or tie, and none for a loss. If two teams have the same amount of points, the tie breaker is goal differential or how many more goals a team scored than their opponents.

After that the top two teams go into the round of 16 when the single-game elimination portion of the tournament begins. The first place team in one group plays the second place team in another. Then it becomes a normal tournament structure till the final with the inclusion of a third place game.

It becomes a normal tournament after that, check out this bracket below or download it here.