World Cup Fever

worldcup_2014The 2014 World Cup fever got under way yesterday. For us “Americanos” it starts today with Mexico playing Cameroon. The other “American” team is, of course the US, which plays its first game on Monday. The United States will be playing Ghana. For most El Pasoans, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the US, the World Cup is part of a worldwide celebration.

In anticipation of the world’s greatest distraction from now until July 13, I thought I would share some interesting things about the greatest game the world has ever known.

The brazuca is the official ball for this tournament. It has its own Twitter account. (@brazuca)

The name, brazuca, was chosen by over 1 million Brazilians in September 2012. It means the Brazilian way of life. The colors were derived from the friendship bracelets exchanged by Brazilians. It weighs 437 grams.

This tournament’s official ball was designed by Adidas. The balls is constructed by six stylized “X” panels that are textured. If you thought the ball was a just a ball, think again. The ball was aerodynamically designed to be stable in flight. The previous soccer ball used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was criticized by coaches and players alike for changing direction in midflight.

Ball camera

Some of the balls have built-in HD cameras. At this point, it is unclear if the camera-loaded balls will be used for actual tournament play. If it they were, now that would be extra cool.

In the meantime, check out the ball video.

The ball is not the only technology making an appearance at the World Cup.

Referees will have access to a vanishing foam spray that they will use to mark the location of the ball during a foul call. Within minutes, the “mark” will disappear leaving the playing field free of any markings.

As many of you already know, a goal is scored as soon as the ball crosses the goal line, whether the ball touches the ground or not inside the net. There have been many controversial calls about whether a ball crossed the goal line or not over the years. In a game where the winner is determined by one goal, this is especially important.

This tournament a system of cameras will notify the referee within seconds if the ball crossed the goal line, making controversial goals a thing of the past.

The team jerseys produced by Adidas for some of the teams include frozen vests that will help keep the players cooler in the Brazilian heat. They store the vests on the freezer and it helps keep the players from suffering heat fatigue longer.

iPads for the English

Those that follow international soccer know that the English take their football seriously. This tournament the English have equipped their athletes with iPads loaded with a custom APP tailored specifically to each player. The APP contains scouting reports about their opponents. From the data, the English players can then tailor their play style for the specific game they will be playing that day.

The Twitter Hashflags

For the fanatical fans, their country’s flag is prominent in their celebrations. Twitter has introduced the “hashflag”. When you tweet about the game, you can include a hashtag code that displays your country’s flag on the tweet. For Mexicans the hashflag is #MEX. For the US, it is #USA.

Money, money and more money

Some of you may not know this but the advertising mediums and FIFA are not the only ones making money off the tournament. Each of 32 qualifying teams will receive $1.5 million dollars for preparation costs. The $576 million prize money will be allocated to each team as they progress through the tournament. Those eliminated at the group stage will be awarded $8 million each. Those eliminated at the round of 16 will receive $9 million. The teams eliminated at the quarterfinals will get $14 million. The fourth place team will receive $20 million, followed by $22 million for the third place finisher. Second place will get $25 million and the winner will take home $35 million dollars.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of the coolest soccer commercials I have seen.

Enjoy the World Cup!

Click here for the official World Cup game schedule. (PDF)

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