The world's biggest soccer tournament takes place every four years. That's when teams representing countries all over the globe come together for the World Cup, the most popular sports tournament on Earth. The next World Cup isn't until the summer of 2010 in South Africa, but it's already generating plenty of excitement. Teams right now are playing qualifying matches, meaning that they are competing to be one of the 32 countries included in the World Cup.
Many casual fans don't realize that matches taking place right now will have an impact on who plays in the World Cup next year. In fact, there's a lot of facts about the World Cup that people don't know. So here's five interesting World Cup facts that every soccer fan should know:
1. The first World Cup took place in 1930. That tournament's first matches took place at the same time. In those two matches, France beat Mexico 3-1 and the United States beat Belgium 3-0.
2. Uruguay won the first World Cup, beating Argentina 4-2 in the 1930 championship game. The game was played in front of 93,000 fans in Montevideo, the capitol of Uruguay.
3. In 2006, Italy beat France in the World Cup Final. It is estimated that over 715 million people watched the game on TV. That's about one out of every nine people on the planet!
4. The original World Cup trophy was named the Jules Rimet Trophy, after the man who helped start the tournament. In 1970, Brazil won its third World Cup and was allowed to keep the trophy permanently. However, in 1983, the trophy was stolen and never returned.
5. The trophy was actually stolen once before, in 1966. It disappeared from a public showing in England four months before the country hosted the World Cup. A few days later, a dog named Pickles found the trophy in a garden.
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