the fifa world cup (often called football world cup, the world cup, or simply world cup) is the most important competition in international football (soccer), and the world's most representative team sport event. organised by federation internationale de football association (fifa), the sport's governing body, the world cup is contested by men's national football teams which are fifa members.
the world cup is held every four years, but the qualifying rounds of the competition take place over a three-year period, using regional qualifying tournaments. 197 national teams entered the qualification tournaments for the 2006 world cup. the final tournament phase involves 32 national teams competing over a four-week period in a previously nominated host nation.
the world cup final competition (often called the "finals"), which has been held every four years since 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was cancelled due to world war ii, is the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world. it has a global audience of more than 3 billion people (half the world's population) exceeding even the olympic games.
only seven nations have won the world cup. brazil is the most successful world cup team, having won the tournament five times. germany and italy follow with three titles each. argentina and uruguay have two titles each. finally, france and england have one title each.
the next football world cup will be held in germany between june 9 and july 9, 2006.