The world’s most watched sporting event only happens every four years. That’s enough time to forget fútbol’s idiosyncrasies if you’re not an avid Sounders fan (hey, it’s possible), not to mention the rules that set World Cup apart from other tournaments. So, we’ve put together a handy guide for all you fair-weather fans or those who just need a little refresher.
Step 1: Know the Game
Like we said, World Cup is not your average tournament. There are three stages: group-play, knockout, and finals.
Thirty-two teams from around the world are broken down into eight groups of four teams. These teams play each other in a round-robin style. The two teams with the highest score from each group move on to the knockout stage.
During this stage, the teams play each other in a single-elimination style tournament similar to March Madness. There's the round of 16, the elite eight, the final four and the championship game. The two semi-final losing teams play each other for third place.
The two teams left standing at the end move on to the finals. The team that wins this match reigns supreme and is immortalized in history.
Scoring is much more complex than racking up goals. During the group-play stage, a winning team is awarded three points. When two teams tie, they get one point. A loss does not get any points. Each team's total number of points determines its spot in the group standings and how the knockout stage will play out.
Step 2: Know the Lingo
The vocabulary around fútbol is so extensive it could fill a tome. We won’t bore you with every single word and phrase, but there is a handful that could leave you scratching your head:
Hat Trick: Three goals scored by a single player in a match. You should probably know this one by now, since it’s a key part of our Fútbol Challenge.
Flopping: Feigning injuries to stop the play. Roll your eyes all you want, this dramatic display makes for some entertaining matches.
Group of Death: This is a group of four incredibly fierce teams in the group-play stage. Hello, U.S., Germany, Portugal and Ghana!
Offside: This happens when an offensive player is in the attacking half of the field, doesn’t have the ball, and drops behind the second-farthest back defender. This rule keeps players from hanging out by the net and waiting for the ball.
Throw-In: This happens when a ball goes out of bounds along the sidelines.
Goal Kick: This happens when the ball goes out of bounds at the end line and it was last touched by an offensive play.
Corner Kick: This happens when the ball goes out of bounds at the end line and a defensive player or the goal keeper last touched it.
Yellow Card: A slap on the wrist for bad behavior.
Red Card: If a player racks up enough yellow cards, they get a red card and are booted out of the match.
Step 3: Know Where to Watch
Forget trying to cram into one of the few pubs with everyone else in the metroplex. We are airing World Cup matches live at nine of our locations around Seattle and the Eastside. Beer, pizza, World Cup… What more could you ask for? Oh, we’re also throwing in a chance to win a Vespa!