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Here Are Five Things to Get You Ready for the World Cup Kickoff
June 12th, 2014
04:28 AM ET

Here Are Five Things to Get You Ready for the World Cup Kickoff

The World Cup is upon us, and for the next month, there will be a significant uptick in the number of folks skipping work, watching games in the break room and wildly mispronouncing Eastern European surnames.

Want to get in on the fun surrounding this quadrennial event that stokes the intensest of passions while doing considerable damage to some countries' gross domestic products for the month?

Here are some fun facts to get you started:

Let the games begin

The host country, Brazil, will kick off the action against Croatia on at 4 p.m. ET Thursday in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian squad is a heavy favorite, but Croatia is no slouch, boasting several stars who play in Europe's top leagues. Keep an eye on one of them just before kickoff: forward Eduardo da Silva. Born in the slums outside Rio de Janeiro, he now plays for the Croatian national team, and his mother reportedly says he intends to sing both countries' national anthems.

64 games, like March Madness, but not

There is only one game on the first day of the Cup, but between Thursday and June 26, all 32 teams who qualified will play three games each in what is known as the group stage.

Garnering three points for every win and a point for every tie, the teams will be whittled down to the best 16 - two from each of the eight groups. They will then face off in a do-or-die knockout round beginning June 28. Your March Madness bracket? Yeah, it will look like that, but with a quarter of the teams. The final is July 13.

Only world war can stop it

The World Cup has been held every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when it was canceled because of World War II. This will be the 20th World Cup.

It's the eighth time it's been held in South or North America and the second time in Brazil, the first one being 64 years ago. Only South American teams have won World Cups held in the New World, and the last South American World Cup was won by Argentina on home soil in 1978.

Speaking of winners

There isn't much parity to the World Cup. In fact, only eight teams have won it. England, France and defending champion Spain have won it once each. Argentina and Uruguay have won it twice. West Germany has held the trophy aloft three times, Italy has claimed victory four times and Brazil has won it five times. Hmm. Why on Earth do the Brazilians need home-field advantage again?

It's not all fun and games

Allegations of corruption within world soccer's governing body, FIFA, and class warfare within the host nation are casting a pall over the Cup, though don't expect it to dampen fans' fervor once the teams take the pitch.

Specifically, a key sponsor, Sony, is demanding an investigation into the controversial award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and in Brazil, protesters are asking why an emerging nation is spending billions on hosting a football tournament rather than using it to alleviate poverty.

MORE World Cup content on CNN.com

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February 26th, 2014
11:27 AM ET

Report: FBI Probed Possible Liston-Ali Fix

Before there was Muhammad Ali, there was Cassius Clay, a bombastic young boxer who was expected to lose to Sonny Liston when the two fought in 1964—but he didn't. A startling report sheds new light on that stirring bout early in Ali's career and the FBI investigation that was launched to determine its legitimacy.

The Washington Times' Thom Loverro pored through documents released to the paper "under the Freedom of Information Act."

What Loverro found was the FBI launched an extensive investigation following the first bout between Clay (who would later change his name to Ali) and the seemingly unbeatable Liston. What they uncovered is the very real possibility of a fix implicating Liston and LasVegas gambler Ash Resnick.

Before we continue, it's important to stress the term possibility, because nothing was ever proven. It's best to simply quote The Washington Times' sports editor Mike Harris, who states in a video on the report's page, "They never found any conclusive proof."

See more at Bleacher Report 

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February 21st, 2014
11:56 AM ET

Bode Miller Live on 'New Day'!

He made history in Sochi. Bode Miller became the oldest alpine skier to win an Olympic medal. His new bronze for the Super-G event ups his total of alpine medals to a U.S. record of six – the second-highest total for a male ski racer.

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February 18th, 2014
10:03 AM ET

Olympian Says She Snowboarded Before It Was Cool

Snowboarder Kelly Clark captured her 3rd medal competing in her 4th straight Olympic games in Sochi.

On "New Day" Tuesday, the 30-year-old athlete remembered the sport before it was "cool."

"There was no X-Games, there was no Olympics. When I was 14 year's old I had one of those moments where I watched the first time snowboarding was even in the games, I said 'This is what I want to do with my life.' And four years later I won Olympic gold in Salt Lake and I've been here ever since."

SEE FULL INTERVIEW ABOVE

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