The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious and well recognized football (soccer) competition in the world. The international competition consists exclusively of national teams from member countries of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The World Cup has competitions for both men’s and women’s clubs and both take place every four years; the competition also rotates between different hosts every four years. The men’s competition has existed since 1930 while the women first began play in 1991. The World Cup is one of the most popular sporting events in the entire world with a consistently massive viewing audience; both at the games and on television. Some consider it to be the world’s greatest sporting event.
Each country does not automatically get a birth for their national club in the World Cup. Each club has to go through a qualification process (the qualification phase) that usually occurs in the three years leading up to the final phase, the World Cup Finals. Clubs qualify out of the six zones that FIFA has established: Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, and Europe. The Finals, as can be expected, is the final phase of the World Cup where the qualified teams compete for the title.
The World Cup Finals differs between the men and women competitions. For the men, the Finals take place for an entire month and features 32 clubs. However, the women’s Finals takes only three weeks and contains 16 clubs. Both competitions consist of a group stage that occurs in a round-robin format. Wins during the group stage earn a club three points, a tie one point, and a loss zero points. Based on points earned, 16 men’s clubs advance to the next stage while 8 clubs advance in the women’s. The next stage, the final stage, is single elimination with the World Cup champion being crowned at the end.