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By Juan J Miret

The World Cup or the Soccer World Cup is to most significant competition in international soccer. It's the world's most representative team sport event and is contested by the men's national soccer team of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's largest governing body.

The first tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930. It's been stopped only twice, in 1942 and 1946 due to the World War II.

The World Cup involves 32 national teams competing over a four week period.

In general, 207 teams have competed to qualify for the World Cup and 78 nations have qualified at least once. Of these, 11 have made it to the final match, and only 7 have won. This exclusivity inspires much enthusiasm and national pride amongst the tournament's fans.

With 5 victories out its 7 appearances in the final match, Brazil is the most successful World Cup team. It's also the only nation to have participated in every World Cup. Germany and Italy follow with 3 champion titles each one.

The World Cup was first televised in 1954, and is now the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games (summer and winter, together). The cumulative audience of the World Cup 2002 event (summing over all matches) is estimated to be 28.8 billions.
1.1 billion have watched the final match.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy has a special part in the tournament history. From 1930 to 1970, the called Jules Rimet Trophy was awarded to the Cup winner. It was originally simply known as the World Cup or Coupe de Monde but was renamed in 1946 in honor of the FIFA president who organized the first tournament. In 1970, Brazil's third victory in the tournament entitled them to keep the trophy permanently. However, it was stolen in 1983 and has been recovered. Then, a new trophy, known as the FIFA World Cup, was designed. This one will not be given to the winning nation permanently, irrespective of how many they win. It will not be retired until the name plaque has been entirely filled with the names of winning nations in 2038.

History will be written in Germany between June 9 and July 9, 2006.

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