World cup madness
Chants of "Olé" echo through the streets. You swear that the man you just passed on your way to the office had a green and gold face. Children gather in parks and empty streets to play soccer. If these events sound familiar to you, you have experienced World Cup madness.
The World Cup serves as the major men's soccer competition held by the sport's governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). It's at least a mild obsession for people in every part of the world.
Taking place every four years, the final tournament for the World Cup involves 32 national teams and lasts about a month. The initial rounds of the World Cup are played during the three years between tournaments and keep the World Cup madness alive. During those three years, people in nations around the world cheer for their country's team to make it to one of the coveted 32 spots of the final. Once a team makes it to the finals, that country receives a tremendous amount of money from; shirts, soccer balls, trading cards, lunch boxes, posters and any piece of World Cup memorabilia that will be sold.
Much like the Olympic Games, the World Cup Finals move from host country to host country. Host countries stand to earn major income due to the global popularity of the games. People travel from all over the world to see the World Cup Finals.
The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup, and its popularity helped start and maintain the country's Major League Soccer program. In a country that hardly recognized soccer as a sport, the US was instantaneously flooded with World Cup madness. Suddenly, every child had a ball, every billboard had a poster and every food product had an endorsement. Those same people, who swore by baseball during the summer months, went to local sports bars to watch soccer teams compete on the big screen. The country, despite many of its people swearing against the sport, we diagnosed with World Cup Madness.
Even though the World Cup takes over the entire planet every four years, only seven countries have ever actually won the tournament.
- Brazil won five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002)
- Italy won four time (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006)
- Germany won three times (1954, 1974 and 1990)
- Uruguay won twice (1930 and 1950)
- Argentina won twice (1978 and 1986)
- England won once (1966)
- France won once (1998)