Welcome to the Active for Life World Cup soccer weekly blog, where we’ll be writing – in a kid-friendly way – about the happenings and goings-on in Brazil. Check back every Friday for updates, and share the news with your children.
A month of soccer games is over and a victor has finally emerged!
For the fourth time in World Cup history, Germany is the champion of the tournament, beating Argentina 1-0 in yesterday’s exciting final game. With most of the game passing without a goal, fans were on the edge of their seats for almost two hours. Were you watching? It was so exciting! And it got even more exciting when, with a mere 7 minutes of extra time remaining, Schurrle (the young player we told you to keep an eye on) passed to Götze (his even younger teammate!) and he scored an incredible goal, playing it off his chest and then kicking it past Argentina’s goalkeeper, Romero.
It really was an awesome moment in soccer history.
Argentina fans and players were visibly disappointed at the end of the match, but hopefully felt a little better when their star player, Lionel Messi, was chosen as the winner of the Golden Ball – an award given to the best player of the tournament.
And, in case you missed Saturday’s third place game, the Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0. It was obviously a big disappointment for all the Brazilian fans in the stands, yes, but a welcome win for the Dutch team. Brazil showed again how much the team depends on Neymar (still injured and unable to play). And the Netherlands showed the great power of a strong and unified team.
We had a great time sharing World Cup stories with you. And don’t forget there will be more great World Cup coverage in a few weeks when the U-20 Women’s World Cup begins in Canada!
But while you’re waiting for those games to start, we’ve got some more worthwhile soccer reading for you:
And remember to enter our super Soccer Kicks Contest so you can win the ultimate soccer prize pack!
But don’t just read about soccer. Get out there and kick the ball around. Just because Canada didn’t have a qualifying team at this year’s World Cup doesn’t mean there won’t be a time in the not-so-distant future that we do. And you know what would make that qualifying team extra awesome? If you’re on it.
Have you ever heard of capoeira? If you lived in Brazil, you would know exactly what it is. Capoeira is a martial art that combines dance and gymnastics, sometimes even including music. It involves power, speed and complex movements, but at its heart is a back-and-forth, foot-to-foot movement. Sound familiar? Back-and-forth? Foot-to-foot? Power? Speed? Complex moves?
Sounds a lot like soccer, doesn’t it? Brazilian soccer is often compared to the Brazilian dances: capoeira and samba. The national team is said to move with the same sort of art or grace of dancers. Not sure if the same can be said for some of their competitors.
Brazil vs. Germany
But even fancy capoeira moves couldn’t help Brazil in the World Cup semi-finals match against Germany. In what will go down in history as a jaw-dropping upset for Brazil, la Seleção Brasileira (remember … that’s Brazil’s nickname?) lost 7-1 leaving a stadium full of heartbroken players and fans.
But hearts weren’t the only things broken.
It’s worth remembering that in Brazil’s quarter-final game against Colombia, Brazil’s star player, Neymar, came crashing to the ground after being struck in the back by a Columbian player’s knee. Neymar ended up with a fractured vertebra and his team, as it turned out, ended up at a terrible disadvantage.
Although Brazil’s dream of winning a World Cup on home soil is over, Germany is hoping to win their fourth World Cup tournament a few days from now.
Argentina vs. the Netherlands
Meanwhile, the other semi-final match featured another South American nation with a dance tradition. Argentina is famous for the tango, a dance where the participants move quickly, with complicated foot movements and powerful kicks. Hmmm? Sound familiar again? Yep, you got it: soccer. In fact, when Argentina hosted (and won) the World Cup in 1978, the official ball of the tournament was named the “Tango.”
On Wednesday, Argentina matched up against the Netherlands and the result was pretty much the opposite of the high-scoring Brazil/Germany game. Argentina and the Netherlands played the entire match without scoring a goal. Then, they played 30 minutes of extra time without scoring a goal. So they had to do a penalty shootout, where each team is permitted 5 shots. Argentina won the shootout 4-2, so they go to the World Cup final against Germany.
Who will win the final match?
So now, there are two matches left. Today’s match between Brazil and the Netherlands will determine the third place team, and on Sunday, Germany will try to win its 4th World Cup and Argentina will try for its 3rd. The big question that remains is: Will soccer fans be dancing a German waltz or an Argentine tango when the match is over? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Have you watched any exciting World Cup matches this week? 8 teams remain for the World Cup quarter-finals this weekend. These games start today, so if you’re at home this afternoon, you might be able to learn some great new soccer moves while watching a match.
But before the quarter-finals begin, we thought you might like to learn a little bit about the teams that still remain in the competition:
They have appeared in 13 World Cup tournaments and won it once, in 1998.
Interesting fact: They didn’t win a single game at the 2010 World Cup, and they even had a “player strike” against their coach.
Player to watch: Karim Benzema is France’s superstar goal scorer. While there are many good players on the team, he is the player to watch when he gets close to goal.
Team nickname: Les Bleus (“the Blues”)
They have appeared in 17 World Cup tournaments and won it 3 times: 1954, 1974, and 1990.
Interesting fact: The team has scored 222 goals and played in 99 matches at the World Cup finals. That’s more than any other team.
Player to watch: Andre Schurrle, who is 23 years old, has started on the bench in all 4 of Germany’s matches so far, despite spectacular performances in all of the World Cup qualifiers. Maybe he’ll get to start a match soon?
Team nickname: Die Mannschaft (“The Team”)
They have appeared in 19 World Cup tournaments and won it 5 times: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.
Interesting fact: Because of its 5 wins, Brazil is the most successful national soccer team in the history of the World Cup.
Player to watch: Neymar, who at 22, is making his first appearance at a World Cup and has already scored 4 goals, which might explain why his face is on posters and billboards all over Brazil.
Team nickname: Seleção Brasileira (“Brazilian Selection”)
They have appeared in 4 World Cup tournaments and have never won.
Interesting fact: The team’s nickname is Los Cafeteros, which means “The Coffee Workers,” because their country is known for producing some of the best coffee in the world.
Player to watch: James Rodríguez, who is 22 years old, has scored 5 goals in 4 matches at the World Cup so far.
Team nickname: Los Cafeteros (“The Coffee Workers”)
Interesting fact: The team has been playing since 1921 (when they played a game against El Salvador and won it 7-0), but it took them until 1990 to reach the World Cup.
Player to watch: Joel Campbell, who is 22 years old, is the youngest player on the team and has started every game so far, in spite of the fact that this is his first World Cup.
Team nickname: Los Ticos (“The Costa Ricans”)
They have appeared in 9 World Cup tournaments and have never won.
Interesting fact: The team has the record for playing in the most World Cup finals without winning. Not really a record any team wants, is it? They were second to Germany in 1974, second to Argentina in 1978, and second to Spain in 2010.
Player to watch: 30 year-old Arjen Robben, whose teammate, Dirk Kuyt, has said he wouldn’t trade him for any other player in the world because Robben is having such an incredible World Cup.
Team nickname: Oranje (“The Orange”)
They have appeared in 15 World Cup tournaments and won it twice, in 1986 in Mexico and in 1978 when they hosted at home.
Interesting fact: Argentina beat England in their 1986 World Cup quarter final with two goals by Diego Maradona. His first goal is soccer’s most infamous goal, known as the “Hand of God”. He punched the ball out of the air into the goal without the referee seeing (watch below).
Player to watch: Lionel Messi, who is known as La Pulga (“the Flea”). Messi is anything but tiny in the soccer world, having been named FIFA’s World Player of the Year 4 times. He has 4 goals so far at this World Cup, and in the only game he didn’t find the net, he had a beautiful game-winning assist to move Argentina into the quarterfinals.
Team nickname: La Albiceleste (“The White and Sky Blues”)
They have appeared in 11 World Cup tournaments but have never won, their best finish being 4th in 1986 in Mexico.
Interesting fact: Belgium has three official mascots: Two devils and a lion named Diabolix.
Player to watch: That’s a tricky one. So far, Belgium has 6 goals—scored by 6 different players! However, Eden Hazard is a crafty midfielder whose creativity has helped Belgium’s other stars shine. He has 2 assists already and his fancy footwork may be a ‘Hazard’ for opponents going forward.
Team nickname: Les Diables Rouges (“The Red Devils”)
And one quick story about a team that was eliminated from the competition earlier this week: Team USA. There is a very special goalkeeper on Team USA named Tim Howard, who people all over the world have been talking about. He played incredibly well in the team’s match against Belgium with a record 16 saves. Unfortunately, his team still lost (2-1 in extra time), but even the Belgian players knew how great their opponent was. One Belgian player, Vincent Kompany, sent a message on Twitter to tell the world how awesome Howard is: “Two words.. TIM HOWARD #Respect #BelUSA”
People call soccer the “beautiful game”. And with teams and players like the ones still left in the tournament, it’s easy to see why.
The thing about major sporting events like the World Cup is that they aren’t always just about the sport itself. Sometimes there’s so much passion and spirit in the hearts of the athletes and the fans that it’s the stories that happen alongside (and sometimes during) the actual games that matter just as much as the scores.
So, while the world has been playing and watching soccer these last two weeks,the world has also been living the ups and downs of the beautiful game, both on and off the pitch.
Here are four emotional World Cup stories that might bring a tear to your eye, put a lump in your throat, put a smile on your face, or maybe even make your jaw drop.
Do you sing O Canada every morning when school starts? Now imagine if you were a soccer player and you got to sing it before a very important game that the whole world was watching. Do you think you would sing out loud, strong, and proud? Would you be very quiet and just listen to the music? Or would you maybe fall somewhere in between?
Soccer players from around the world treat their anthems in all different ways, too. Players from Spain and Argentina don’t tend to sing at all. Neither do players from England or France. And yet Chile, Brazil, Italy, and Germany all sing with passion and gusto. It’s so much fun to watch games when Chile is playing because even after the anthem music stops, Chilean players and fans sing extra verses, right to the end. It’s beautiful to hear all those voices ringing out in chorus. And it must be very inspiring for the Chilean players, too.
Biting doesn’t pay
It seems like there’s at least one soccer player in the world who missed preschool the day the teacher taught about biting. Because even though the rest of us learned way back when we were toddlers that it’s terrible to bite another person, Luis Suarez, a soccer player for Uruguay, must have forgotten that he’s not supposed to do it.
When the Uruguay vs. Italy match was tied 0-0 earlier this week, and just one minute prior to Uruguay scoring the winning goal, Suarez appeared to bite defender Chiellini on the shoulder.
The result a few days later is that FIFA has banned Suarez from playing any soccer for the next four months. That means no more World Cup games in Brazil, and even no games for his regular club team, Liverpool, at the start of the new season in August.
We’ll probably never know why Suarez tried to bite another player, but after the public outcry and the punishment from FIFA, we hope that he’ll never do it again.
Grown men really do cry
Way back when we were telling you about the World Cup, we suspected that some of the players might have emotional moments. Turns out, we were right.
David Villa, a player for Spain, found himself in tears on the bench after being substituted in Spain’s win against Australia. Why was he sad? It was his last international game before he officially retires (and plays in New York), so walking off that field and sitting on that bench he knew it was the last time he’d ever get to do it while playing for his country.
And then there’s player Serey Die from Cote d’Ivoire (pictured above). He was so deeply moved to be representing his country at the World Cup that he cried throughout his country’s anthem.
Emotions are high at the World Cup, that’s for sure.
You know it really is the World Cup when little Prince George is getting in on the soccer fun, too. To your right is a sweet picture of him on Father’s Day working on his push kick.
And if you happen to be paying as much attention to the actual games as to the interesting stories that occur, you probably already know that what was once 32 soccer teams has already been narrowed down to 16.
May the best team win.
Image of Prince George © Getty Images
It’s been a big week in the world of soccer, that’s for sure! Have you been watching? Even if you have watched some of the games, there are great stories that you might have missed.
Here are five fun World Cup stories we think you’ll love:
The Pope vows to remain neutral
Pope Francis, who is Argentinian, has vowed to remain neutral for the duration of the 2014 World Cup. That means, even though he’s from Argentina, and even though he’s a big soccer fan, and even though Argentina and Brazil are long-time soccer rivals, the Pope will cheer equally for both teams. We’ll see if he can do it if they [the two teams] face each other on the pitch.
A tortoise predicts World Cup winners
For the 2010 World Cup matches, there was an Octopus (named Paul!) who successfully predicted 85% of the matches. That’s a pretty high success rate for an octopus. And now there’s a new animal oracle in town: Cabeção The Psychic Turtle! How, exactly, does an animal predict soccer match winners? In the case of Cabeção, someone presents him with fish tied to countries’ flags (plus one tied to a ball that represents a draw) and whichever the animal eats determines his predicted winner. Here he is predicting a Mexican win over Brazil on Tuesday. (He was wrong. The game ended surprisingly in a draw.)
Have you ever been playing soccer and looked down to see one of your shoelaces undone? Maybe your coach or another adult tied it for you again. But imagine if you were one of the child escorts for a World Cup team and a soccer player next to you bent down to tie your shoelace. During the moments before his team’s match against Chile, Australian player Mark Bresciano tied the shoelaces of a child on the field as they sang the national anthems prior to the match. Bet the child felt pretty special after that surprise.
Team England’s physiotherapist gets injured during game
Usually it’s the players who get hurt at sporting events. But after England scored a goal against Italy on Saturday, England’s team physiotherapist, Gary Lewin, was the one with the injury. His foot got caught on the astro-turf while he was celebrating the goal and he broke his ankle. Poor Lewin. He’s home in England now, recovering from surgery to treat his ankle. Let’s hope he takes a break from watching soccer matches for a little while. Or at least stays in his seat to cheer.
Even astronauts aboard the International Space Station have World Cup fever. U.S. astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steve Swans, along with German astronaut Alexander Gerst, released a video of themselves playing soccer in space. It’s so cool to see what soccer looks like in zero-gravity.
As for how the teams are doing so far, it’s still quite early to be talking about standings. Some teams have played two games already, others only one. Teams from The Netherlands, Chile, and Colombia have won both of their games. Other teams like Australia, England, and Spain (the reigning World Cup champions) have lost both of their games. Technically, some teams have already been eliminated, even though they still have one game left to play in their group matches. These include Spain, Australia, and Cameroon, and after today there could be 2 or 3 more teams, too. Can you imagine what it would be like to play another game, even though you already know that you are going home after it?
Surprise upsets! Zero-gravity soccer! Psychic tortoises! The World Cup is getting more exciting by the minute. Can’t wait to see what the next week brings.
Image of Mark Bresciano © George Salpigtidis/Getty Images
It’s here! The FIFA World Cup finally started Thursday in Brazil and football fans everywhere couldn’t be more excited. Wait? Football fans? Isn’t the World Cup about soccer? Yes and yes! What we in North America usually call soccer is called football (or fútbol, or futboll, or fudbal or futebol) in much of the rest of the world. So there’s no need to be confused when you hear someone talking about the great football match they watched yesterday. Know why? Because it’s the same soccer game you were watching.
The FIFA World Cup only happens once every four years and it’s truly a global event. Countries from all over the world send the best players on the planet to play in this huge tournament and fans come from all over the world to watch.
Some things you might be wondering as people start to talk more and more about the World Cup:
- What does FIFA stand for? Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
- How many teams are playing? There are 32 countries represented at the World Cup this year.
- Why doesn’t Canada have a team at the World Cup? Teams must qualify to play at the World Cup and Canada’s team didn’t qualify.
If you had a chance to watch any of yesterday’s World Cup events, you got to see a fabulous opening ceremony filled with spectacular costumes, dancing, and music. And if you were really lucky, you got to see the first game of the tournament (between Brazil and Croatia) as well.
From the very first moments of that first game, it was easy to see that this will be an amazing World Cup. You may have heard that the World Cup is a time to see grown men cry. Well, the Brazilian soccer players seemed ready to prove this fact from the early bars of the Brazilian national anthem. And by the end, when everyone was belting out that anthem, at least one player (goalkeeper Julio Cesar) was crying as he sang.
Brazil scored the first goal of that game. Which should have been really exciting, right? Not for them. They scored the goal in their very own net (watch using the embedded video below). Can you imagine how you would feel if that happened to you at one of your own soccer games? Marcelo, the player who did it, was pretty upset. But he kept right on playing. And Brazil won the game 3-1. Good thing he didn’t give up.
Did you happen to notice any funny names on the backs of the Brazilian players’ shirts? Brazil has a long history of only using players’ first names or even nicknames on the official team list. For example, Brazil’s most famous player of all time is Pele, but his real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Quite a difference, isn’t it? Many players on the current Brazilian team are the same, with names like Neymar Jr., Fernandihno, and Hulk. Yes, Hulk! Whether or not Brazil will turn out to be “incredible”, we will just have to wait and see.