How The World Cup Tournament Works

If you’re going to jump on the World Cup bandwagon and cheer as a (non-insufferable) soccer fan, there are a few things you need to know about the tournament structure. For one, 32 teams compete for the title in a series of matches that span four weeks. In addition to the team trophy, there are individual player awards. See what else you didn’t know you needed to know

Released on 6/16/2014

Credits

Songspub "Magic Show" by Electric Owls --- "One Fine Day" by The Salt and the Sea

Transcript

00:00
(spooky music)
00:04
[Narrator] Let's talk about the most important
00:05
sporting event in the known universe.
00:08
(upbeat music)
00:09
Because if you happened to have taken residence
00:10
under a rock, the first thing you need to know
00:12
is that the World Cup is played once
00:14
every four years by 32 teams.
00:17
As soon as one cup ends, teams start competing
00:18
in qualifying matches around the world
00:20
to be one of the 31 teams to make the next one.
00:23
And that year's host country is guaranteed
00:24
a place at the pitch.
00:26
Once we know the 32, soccer's governing body
00:28
divvies them into eight groups of four each.
00:30
The teams are entered into a controlled chaos
00:32
and drawn one-by-one from four pots.
00:34
The seven highest-ranking teams go into a seated pot
00:36
then, as FIFA endeavors to mix things up,
00:38
the following groups are arranged
00:39
into the remaining three pots
00:40
based on geographic distance from one another.
00:42
(upbeat dance music)
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After all the groups are sorted,
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we get a round robin-style series of matches
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that decide a winner and a runner-up from each group.
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Each team plays every other team once,
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and the two teams with the highest points
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at the end of the group play move on to the round to 16.
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From here it's simple, working much like the basic
00:58
bracketology you're probably already used to.
01:00
Each winning team competes against the runner-up team
01:02
from a different group, which narrows the teams
01:04
down to eight in the quarter finals,
01:05
four in the semis, and then the top two teams compete
01:08
for the one solid gold cup to rule them all.
01:11
There are a few other Midas-touched awards
01:13
for soccer excellence, like the Golden Ball for best player,
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the Golden Boot for top scorer,
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the Golden Glove for best goalie,
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and the Golden Video for best condensed
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animated explanation about the World Cup and all the
01:23
(expletive beep) you now know about it.
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Click here for more Soccerology and don't forget
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to subscribe to GQ if you haven't already,
01:29
for more like this and other shows for the modern GQ man.