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The World Cup returns to Latin America in 2014, with Brazil hosting the 21st edition of the tournament. Between June 12th and July 13th 32 teams will compete in 12 cities over five stages, with the tournament winners to be decided at the Maracana Stadium on the 13th of July.
World Cup Football has not been played in South America since 1978, when Argentina hosted, and won, the tournament. Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950, when Uruguay won the title in a four team round-robin final stage.
Brazil has prepared for the return of the tournament by building six brand new stadiums across the country, and upgrading its existing stadiums to meet FIFA standards.
In addition the country has invested heavily on upgrading airport infrastructure to accommodate the massive influx in foreign visitors during the tournament. There has also been investment in the upgrading of public transport, including train and rail services.
The format of the 2014 World Cup will remain unchanged from the one used in South Africa. 32 teams will compete in 8 groups in the opening round of the tournament. Teams in each group will play each other once, and with the winner and runners-up from each group progressing to the first knockout stage – the Round of 16.
The remaining teams will then contest four knockout stages, as well as a 3rd and 4th place playoff.
Competing teams have qualified through the event through regional FIFA qualification tournaments. Europe will contribute almost half of the competitors in the tournament, with the remaining places split between the remaining major football-playing regions.
Following repeated controversies over marginal goals at previous World Cup tournaments, FIFA will introduce goal-line technology to the World Cup in 2014. The new technology is designed to allow match officials to make accurate decisions in the case of marginal goals.
The mascot for the 2014 World Cup was announced by FIFA in 2012, with Fuleco, a cartoon armadillo, serving as the face of the tournament. The name was created by combining the Brazilian words for ‘football’ and ‘ecology’, and was chosen in a national vote in which 1.7 million Brazilians participated.
The 2014 World Cup match ball has been named the ‘Brazuca’, a word which is used to describe both Brazilians and pride in Brazilian culture. The ball will be manufactured and designed by Adidas and will be unveiled at the 2013 World Cup draw.
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