The World Cup, unlike the "World Series", is a truly global event.
Once every 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.
These are organised by the various conferences that make up FIFA:
UEFA 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.
CONMEBOL 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 finallists.
AFC 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.
CAF, 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?
CONCACAF 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.
OFC 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 team.