Brazil hosted the World Cup from June 12 to July 13, 2014.
Games in the 2014 World Cup were played in twelve Brazilian cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo.
A phase called the "Preliminary Competition" takes place in the three years preceding each World Cup, where teams must compete in qualifying matches in order to be eligible for 31 slots. The host nation automatically qualifies to enter.
The teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams each at the beginning of the tournament. The top two teams in each group will advance to the second round group of 16 teams, which play in successive rounds to reach the finals.
There is also a third place game, where the two teams that lose in the semifinals play each other.
The Adidas Golden Ball award is presented to the most outstanding player at each World Cup finals, as decided by the FIFA Technical Study Group - 2014 Winner: Lionel Messi
The Adidas Golden Boot award is presented to the top goal scorer at every World Cup finals - 2014 Winner: James Rodriguez (Colombia).
3.2 billion people worldwide
watched the 2010 World Cup - 46.4 percent of the world.
24.7 million U.S. viewers
watched the United States face Portugal in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup.
Most wins - Brazil has won the World Cup five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.
July 13, 1930 - The first World Cup begins in Montevideo, Uruguay.
1942 and 1946 -
The tournament is not held because of World War II.
Play resumes in 1950.
June 11-July 11, 2010 - The World Cup takes place in South Africa. Spain wins its first World Cup championship by defeating the Netherlands in the final, 1-0.
June 12-July 13, 2014 -
The World Cup takes place in Brazil. Germany wins its fourth World Cup championship
by defeating Argentina in extra time, 1-0.
2018 - The World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia.
2022 - The World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar.