The FIFA World Cup Finals are an international football tournament held every four years. The first World Cup, played in 1930, had only thirteen participants - from North and South America and Europe - as many European teams refused to travel to Uruguay for the tournament. The 2002 finals will involve 32 national teams, from all around the world.
From 1934 and 1978, sixteen teams participated in each tournament*. Between 1982 and 1994, twenty-four teams took part in the finals, and from 1998, thirty-two teams.
The format used in the tournament has varied over the years: a round robin among all of the teams, a single elimination tournament, and a mixture of the two types have all been used. Currently, the format is to split the 32 teams into eight groups of four teams. Each group will play round robin once, and the top two teams from each group advance to the second round. The second round starts a single elimination tournament among the remaining sixteen teams.
The 2002 World Cup Finals will be the first co-hosted by two countries - Japan and South Korea - instead of being held in a single country. Since 1938, the host nation has been awarded a place in the Finals without having to qualify. Likewise, the defending champion from the previous Finals is automatically qualified; as France won the 1998 Finals played in France, it received this boon for the 2002 tournament.
No national team has won the World Cup more times than Brazil's, which has won it four times - in 1958, 1962, 1970, and 1994.
*There were no Finals in 1942 or 1946, and only 13 teams participated in 1950.