2010 FIFA World Cup set for June 11

Donovan Terblanche and Donovan Terblanche

On June 11 around 7 a.m. the South African “Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika” and Mexican “Himno Nacional” national anthems will be sung.

The blare of Vuvuzela horns and the banging of the baterias will compete with the screams of 94,700 ardent football fans that will fill the Johannesburg night air with the cacophony of joy.

And so the 2010 Federation International de Football Association World Cup begins.

The governing body FIFA recognizes 204 competing countries, of which 32 will participate in the World Cup, which is played every four years and is hosted by alternating countries between Europe and the Americas.

For the first time in the modern era of the game since Uruguay hosted the initial World Cup, the games are to be played on the African continent. The proud host country for the 2010 World Cup is South Africa, and its team, Bafana Bafana (the boys), are ready for the opening game.

During the previous three years, the 204 participating countries have played each other to obtain world rankings with FIFA, with the top teams going on to play in the World Cup.

Prior to the FIFA World Cup being played, there is a draw and the countries are organized into eight groups. Starting with Group A and ending with Group G, each group has four countries.

Each of these four countries plays against each other in their group, with the top two countries advancing; thereafter it becomes a knockout stage with the loser of each game going home. There is no official third place title, but the format in which they play unofficially establishes a title of third place.

It is seen as the world’s most watched sporting event, with an estimated viewership of more than a billion people.

The host nation South Africa has built a number of new stadiums and upgraded several of the existing ones, to accommodate the throng of fans who will attend the World Cup.

Several countries are strong favorites to win with five-time champions Brazil heading the list. They are followed by the top football players in European football, like Lionel Messi from Argentina, Fernando Torres from Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal and Wayne Rooney from England.