The FIFA World Cup (also called the Football World Cup, the Soccer World Cup, or simply the World Cup) is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War.
The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about a month – this phase is often called the World Cup Finals. A qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).
The 18 tournaments that have been concluded have been won by seven different national teams. Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. Italy have won four titles, and Germany are next with three titles. The other former champions are Uruguay, winners of the inaugural tournament, and Argentina, with two titles each. England and France have won a single title each, both at home, while Spain or the Netherlands will win their first World Cup in South Africa, which will also be the first win for a European team in a finals tournament held outside of Europe.
The World Cup is the world's most widely viewed sporting event; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany. The current World Cup is being held in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010, and the 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil.