Tomorrow is the day that soccer fans around the globe have been anxiously awaiting for the last four years. The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off tomorrow afternoon when the host nation plays against Croatia in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. Brazil has been preparing for the World Cup since 2007, and tomorrow the South American country—and television viewers around the world—will finally get to see the players in action.
The opening ceremony, at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, will set the stage for the first match of the tournament. It will feature a performance of the official World Cup song “We Are One (Ole Ola)” by Jennifer Lopez and the rapper Pitbull.
Throughout the month-long tournament, 64 matches will be played across 12 cities in Brazil. The tournament will end with the final game on July 13 when the FIFA World Cup trophy will be presented to the captain of the winning team.
World Cup Woes
In the years that Brazil has prepared to host the World Cup the country has been plagued by construction delays. Much of the work to build 12 stadiums across the country was not completed until late last year. The projects were also costly, with a price tag estimated around $4 billion.
Now that the World Cup is finally here, and stadiums are ready, a new problem arises for the 32 teams: sweltering temperatures. Despite the fact that this is Brazil’s cool season, temperatures will rise close to 80 degrees this week, and humidity is near 70 percent.
However, some players say that they are excited by challenges. “When you talk about playing in the heat, the travel, it doesn’t bother us,” United States midfielder Michael Bradley told the Associated Press. “And not only does it not bother us, it excites us to see that now the other teams are so worried about it.”
A Social Media Frenzy
Millions of people around the world will be following the matches on television and through social media. A Twitter executive says that the 2014 World Cup will be the most tweeted-about event ever. While the 2012 London Olympics generated 150 million tweets, “The World Cup will take all that to a whole different level,” Brazil’s twitter director Guilherme Ribenboim told Reuters.
Facebook and Twitter have come up with strategies to make their sites the main platforms for World Cup conversation. All 32 soccer teams have Twitter accounts, as do many of the players. In order to organize the millions of World Cup posts that fans are expected to generate, Twitter will utilize the hashtag #worldcup. Meanwhile, Facebook has created a page called Trending World Cup. The company is also launching a page called FacebookRef where fans can see posts from the company’s official tournament commentator.
Fans of the United States soccer team will have to wait until Monday, June 16, for the action to start. That’s when the U.S. men’s national team is slated to go up against Ghana. Ghana has eliminated the U.S. at the last two World Cups. The U.S. will also play Portugal and Germany in one of the more difficult first-round groups. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has acknowledged the challenging path that lies ahead.
“First we’ve got to make it through the group. So let’s stay with our feet on the ground and say let’s get that group first done, and then the sky is the limit. But a half a year before and even today before the World Cup starts, to say that we should win the World Cup is just not realistic,” Klinsmann told the Associated Press.
Many fans were surprised to see that Klinsmann did not include veteran soccer player Landon Donovan on the roster. However, younger players like 19-year-old Julian Green will put forth their best efforts to make their nation proud.
You can check out other players and teams to watch on the World Cup Mini-Site here.