The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be a ball! Each year, the best soccer squads from every corner of the globe compete in the biggest sporting event on Earth. This year, the tournament will take place in South Africa, from June 11th to July 11th. Here are some fascinating facts about the tournament taking place this year and yesteryear:
1. The official 2010 World Cup Mascot is named Zakumi.
Zakumi is a humanized leopard with green hair. The name is a blend of South Africa’s international abbreviation (ZA) and the word “kumi”. In several African languages, the word “kumi” translates into English as the number ten. The mascot’s colors, yellow and green, are also present in the center of South Africa’s flag. Zakumi’s birthday is on the South African red letter day: Youth Day. Also, Zakumi’s birth date (1994) signifies South Africa’s first nationwide elections that were non-racial.
2. Only two World Cups will have been outside the Americas and Europe.
The exceptions were in 2002 (South Korea/Japan), and in 2010 (South Africa).
3. Europe and South America have dominated the Event.
In fact, European countries have won the tournament nine times, while South American countries have also won it a total of nine times. Interestingly, a European country has never become a World Cup champion in one played outside of Europe. Unless you’ve lived your entire life under a rock, then you likely know that Brazil is one of the world’s soccer powerhouses. So it’s not surprising that the country has won a record five World Cup championships. But Italy is closed behind, with four championships of its own. Germany (West) is next, with a total of three World Cup titles. Meanwhile, Uruguay and Argentina both have a pair of championships. And finally, England and France have each won the tournament once.
4. The youngest and oldest players were 17 and 42 yeas old, respectively.
The youngest World Cup player was Norman Whiteside (Ireland), who was a mere 17 years/41 days old when he played in 1982. Meanwhile, Roger Milla (Cameroon) was 42 years/39 days old when he took the filed in 1994.
5. The top all-time World Cup scorer was a Frenchman.
In 1958, Just Fontaine of France scored a whopping 13 points during the tournament, averaging slightly over two points per game. The second all-time scorer was Sandor Kocsis of Hungary. Hungry for goals, in 1954 he scored 11 total points during the tournament, in five games. And the third all-time top scorer was Gerd Muller of West Germany. In 1970 he scored 10 points during six games.
6. Two players have scored in four consecutive World Cup finals.
Interestingly, both players scored during the same World Cups. Pele (Brazil) and Uwe Seeler (West Germany) both scored in the finals of 1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970.
As always, the 2010 Tournament will be a thrilling event. Besides watching the heart-pounding action on the soccer field, keep an eye on the record books to see if any records are broken.