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When football’s biggest party finally came to Asia in 2002

They missed out on some big names from previous tournaments, including the Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Norway.

Host: Japan and South Korea
Equipment: 32
Format: group stage, playoffs
Matches: 64
Goals :161
Winner: Brazil
runners-up: Germany
golden boot: Ronaldo (Brazil)


The world’s biggest soccer tournament moved to the biggest continent for the first time in its history.

When the tickets for hosting rights were announced, Japan and South Korea had bid separately.

However, they were advised and agreed to make a joint offer that was duly approved. South Korean bid officials tried to include North Korea as another co-host to promote reunification, but the idea was not approved.

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The number of places available for the tournament’s main draw was reduced to 29, as co-hosts and defending champions France qualified automatically. Among the remaining spots, two were assigned to Asia, which were taken by Saudi Arabia and China, which ranked first.

Of the five from Africa, Senegal took one as a first-time qualifier. Ecuador and Slovenia were the other rookies.

They missed out on some big names from previous tournaments, including the Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Norway.

France, defending champions, started as favorites along with Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Italy. However, two of them stumbled at the start and couldn’t make it past the group stage.

France lost the opening game to Senegal, a former French colony and several of whose members played in the French leagues. France then drew 0-0 against Uruguay, before being eliminated with a 2-0 loss to Denmark.

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Argentina had slightly better results (one win and one draw) in the so-called Group of Death. England avenged their defeat four years earlier, thanks to a 1-0 win against the Argentines.

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Brazil and Spain battled their way to the round of 16 by winning all three group stage matches. Spain’s impressive run came to an end in the quarter-finals, where they faced the powerful home force of the South Koreans.

Spurred on by the support of the crowd, the home nation had several controversial decisions coming their way. The quarter-final against Spain went to penalties, which South Korea won 5-3. However, they were stopped by the Germans in the semi-final.

Brazil’s run was boosted by the return of Ronaldo after a career-threatening injury. The star player scored four goals in the group stage matches and four in the qualifiers, including two in the final against Germany.

After the heartbreak of 1998, one of Brazil’s best teams lifted the country’s record fifth world title in Yokohama four years later.


The tournament benefited the economies of both host nations.

Ronaldo, considered one of Brazil’s best players, finally got his hands on the World Cup after an impressive run in the tournament.

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Brazil won all the matches in regulation time.

Miroslav Klose scored a header hat hat trick in his country’s 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

A total of 20 stadiums (10 in each country) were used in the tournament.

Brazil’s Cafu became the only player to be part of three World Cup finals (1994, 1998, 2002).

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The arbitration decisions, especially those involving South Korea in the knockout stages, faced criticism and scrutiny.

Ireland’s Roy Keane was sent home after expressing his dissatisfaction with the facilities and his team’s preparations.

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