Around the World Cup: A Key to the Contenders

The eyes of the world will be on Germany this Friday when the World Cup finals begin. Thirty-two men's national teams, including a U.S. squad, will compete in the month-long championship of soccer (called football in most countries).

The World Cup is held every four years. To reach the finals, teams play qualifying matches. The 17 previous World Cup titles have been won by just seven countries. Brazil, the 2002 champ, is the only country to have appeared in every World Cup. Its men's team is currently No. 1 among the 205 countries ranked by FIFA (the Federation Internationale de Football Association), soccer's world governing body.

The Women's World Cup will be held in China next year. - Marylou Tousignant

SOURCE: FIFA | GRAPHIC: By Mary Kate Cannistra And Patterson Clark - The Washington Post - June 6, 2006

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