About this time every four years, the whole world is buzzing about the World Cup. Soccer might not be as big in the United States as it is in the rest of the world, but our attention is definitely there during for the biggest sporting event in the world.

I remember taking summer school classes in college during the 2006 World Cup. I had learned all the players’ names by maintaining a minor addiction to the EA Sports FIFA World Cup video game. So that I could watch the early morning matches of the real tournament, I turned in assignments via email and skipped a few classes. Friends would even crash on our couch just to make it as easy as possible to wake up and see the games.

So now it’s 2010 and you’d do well to take advantage of all this soccer madness by including the hype in your email campaigns. With our World Cup facts and rules of the game below, you can sound informed when discussing events like the Zinedine Zidane head-butt on Marco Materazzi. Use a Benchmark Email World Cup template to avoid getting a red card when attempting to rave about Lionel Messi’s (arguably the best player in the world right now) latest jaw-dropping goal or fancy footwork.

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32 nations compete in the World Cup. The first round is the group stage. There are eight groups (A-H), each containing four teams. The group stage is a round-robin style tournament, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage. From there, it’s single elimination until the World Cup champion is crowned

Largest Attendance

The 1950 final game featuring Brazil v. Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the single highest attendance record for one match. 199,854 were in attendance to see Uruguay defeat Brazil 2-1.

First Red Card

Although the World Cup began in 1930, the red and yellow card system was not introduced until 1970. Chile’s Carlos Caszely received the first ever red card in 1974 while playing West Germany.

Yellow Card

The referee will flash a yellow card to indicate that a player has been officially cautioned. Infractions that could result in a yellow card include:

  • Unsportsmanlike behavior
  • Dangerous play
  • Dissenting by word or action
  • Consistent disobeying of the rules
  • Delay of game
  • Failure to respect the proper distances for a corner kick or free kick
  • Entering or re-entering the game without permission of the referee
  • Leaving the game without the permission of the referee

If a player receives a second yellow card, it officially becomes a red card and the player is ejected.

Red Card

The referee shows a red card when a player has been ejected from a match. Infractions that will lead to a direct red card include:

  • A violent foul and violent conduct of any kind spitting at an opponent
  • The deliberate use of hands to obstruct an obvious goal-scoring chance
  • Any offense that denies an obvious goal-scoring chance
  • The use of offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures
  • As mentioned above, a second yellow card


While flopping is also a part of sports like basketball and hockey, it happens much more often in soccer. A flop is when a player feels pressure from an opponent and hits the ground without an actual foul occurring. An egregious flop may be penalized with a yellow card. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world, but has a reputation as one of the biggest floppers in the sport. Since he’s one of the sports biggest stars, the infraction is rarely called on him (think Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant). Otherwise he’d be receiving yellow cards like Meryl Streep gets nominated for Oscars.

Sample subject lines:

– Sound informed this World Cup

– Be in the know this World Cup

– Get a kick out of these World Cup savings

– Things to watch for this World Cup

– Great World Cup savings from [your company]