The opening ceremony of FIFA 2010 World Cup has just begun at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The long wait for the tournament has ended and there is all round excitement not just at the Stadium and in Johannesburg and South Africa but in the other 31 participating countries and also in each and every other country of the world. No other game in the world has such high following. As I am writing this article I have received information that the traffic on most roads of Hyderabad is surprisingly low. Obviously everyone is glued to ESPN Channel to watch the World Cup. This tournament would certainly be the highest ever viewed event. South Africa is House full with local and foreign spectators. And the telecasts of these World Cup events and matches across 214 countries would entertain over 26 billion fans of football. South Africa has created the infrastructure to make this event a grand success and is welcoming the world with smiles and warm hospitality to participate in this month long sporting event.
Thirty two teams have finally qualified for this World Cup tournament. And as the host nation, South Africa is automatically qualified and is one of them. These teams from 32 countries are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each. The 8 groups are formed as follows: Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France, Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece, Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia, Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia, Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal, and Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Chile and Honduras. The 4 Teams of each group will play matches against one another in the Group Stage from 11th June to 25th June. Then two winning teams from each group that is 16 teams will progress to the “Round of 16 Stage”. From here on the matches will be played on knockout basis. The Round of 16 matches will take place from 26th June to 29th June. The Quarter-Final matches will be played on 2nd and 3rd July. The Semi-Final matches will be played on 6th, 7th and 10th July. And the Final Match is on 11th July at the Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg. The third picture at the top is the ‘World Cup Schedule’ and the fourth is the list of ‘Past World Cup Champions’. To enlarge these pictures you may click on them.
Though all the teams are playing to win the World Cup for their Country and to be called the World Champions for the next four years I must mention here that the prize money is very attractive in this World Cup. It is US $420 million, 60% more than the last World Cup (2006). Each participating team will receive $1 million. Each team exiting at the group stage will receive $8 million and thereafter the prize money would be distributed as; $9 million for Round of 16, $18 million for Quarter-Finals, $20 million for Semi-Finals, $24 million for runners up and $30 million for the winner.
With live telecast of all the matches in the evening and a few at midnight, all football lovers in India will keenly follow and enjoy the tournament. Hope someday India would qualify and participate in this tournament (As of now India's ranking in the Football world is at 132).