four years, nations from around the globe meet
to find who has the best team playing the
world's favourite game.
The road to the
2002 finals started back in 2000 with the
initial qualifying matches.
organised by the various conferences that make
is the governing body for the game in Europe.
They send by far the largest number of teams to
the finals. Traditional giants such as Italy,
Germany and Holland have to endure
the trials of qualifying, though holders France
qualify automatically. In all, 14 or 15 of the
finallists will be from Europe.
runs the game in South America. Alongside giants
Brazil and Argentina, the surprise
package in qualifying has been Ecuador.
South America will provide 4 or 5 of the
is the Asian confederation, who will have a
record presence in 2002. The dual hosts Japan
and Korea qualify as of right. They will
be joined by two - possibly three - other teams.
the African confederation, will send 5 teams to
the 2002 finals. Football in Africa is fervently
supported by fans from the Mediterranean coasts
of Tunisia to the Cape of Good Hope in South
Africa. The game has been overshadowed by
recent tragic crowd incidents, but could 2002 be
the year for a first African World Cup victory?
covers a wide geographic range, from the Panama
canal to the Arctic wastes of Canada,
through the island states of the Caribbean.
Three countries qualify, with the USA
leading the qualifying group.
administer the game in Oceania. Traditional
power house Australia fell at the last
hurdle in 1998, losing a play-off against Iran.
They are favourites to progress again, but this
time face a play-off against a South American