What is the Difference Between FIFA & the World Cup?

By Alex Baker

The Federation Internationale de Football Association is the body that governs world football internationally. Football is what the rest of the world calls soccer. The FIFA World Cup is an international tournament held every four years.

History of FIFA

FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904. The organization came into existence at the dawn of the 20th century when it became apparent that such an organization was necessary to supervise the increasingly high number of matches between teams from different countries. FIFA membership was limited to European nations for the first couple of years, but it expanded to include South Africa in 1908 as well as Chile and Argentina in 1912. Canada and the United States joined in 1913.

The World Cup

FIFA held the first World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay. Thirteen teams competed, and the host nation emerged victorious to earn the distinction of first World Cup winner. With the exception of a 12-year hiatus caused by World War II, FIFA has held the World Cup every four years since the inaugural tournament.

FIFA's Growing Influence

FIFA floundered briefly during the first and second World Wars, but since the end of WWII, FIFA has managed to encircle the world with its influence over the global game. Eventually the organization subdivided the world into six confederations of nations. Teams in these confederations compete with each other to win a place in larger tournaments that pit teams from the different confederations against one another. FIFA recognizes the men's national teams of 208 nations as well as the women's national teams of 129 nations.

FIFA World Cup

The World Cup is perhaps second only to the Olympics when it comes to truly global sporting events. World Cup finals take place every four years, pitting 32 teams against each other in a month long tournament. Qualification for the final takes place in the ensuing years. The 32 teams that manage to qualify for the final will make the journey to the host country and compete before the eyes and television cameras of the world. The tournament begins with a group stage, followed by a knockout stage. Groups that make it through the knockout stage head into the semifinals, followed by the quarterfinals. Eventually two teams reach the World Cup final. One is crowned the winner and effectively the global champions of the sport of soccer.

Other FIFA Tournaments

While the World Cup is the most popular international soccer event, FIFA hosts many other tournaments. The European Championships or "Euro" tournament, takes place every four years and pits the top teams from Europe against one another. Other FIFA tournaments include the Gold Cup, the Confederations Cup, the African Cup of Nations and the Women's World Cup. FIFA also hold an under-20 World Cup and even an under-17 World Cup to showcase the footballing talent of the future.

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