Millions of soccer fans wait four years to watch the latest world cup. However, if you are new to the sport, there are a few things you should know about soccer’s most popular event:
Most soccer players spend most of the four years between the World Cup playing for a club. The clubs, like Manchester United, often represent a city or a specific region. However, all this pales in comparison to the World Cup, which is the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Winning the World Cup is the greatest accolade a soccer player could ever earn.
Due to the massive number of countries taking part, the World Cup is a multi-stage process. There are the group matches, with each team usually playing another three teams. Then, the top two teams from each group enter a 16 team knockout phase. The 16 teams cut down to eight, then four, then two for the finals.
Many Americans will find it surprising that, even though the World Cup has a similar stature to the Olympics, winning teams get payouts. The World Cup in Rio paid out $576 million in prize money, with $35 million going to the winning team. Even the teams that get eliminated at the group stage get $8 million. The payouts pale in comparison to the earnings from the games. Although FIFA will spend almost $2 billion to run the tournament, they expect to take in almost double that amount.