The national teams of 31 countries advanced through qualification competitions that began in June 2011 to participate with the host nation Brazil in the final tournament. A total of 64 matches are being played in 12 cities across Brazil in either new or redeveloped stadiums. For the first time at a World Cup finals, match officials are using goal-line technology, as well as vanishing spray for free kicks.
With the host country, all world champion teams since the first World Cup in 1930: Argentina, England, France, Germany (who won three times as West Germany), Italy, Spain and Uruguay, have qualified for this competition. Spain is the defending champion, having defeated the Netherlands 1–0 in the 2010 final to win its first World Cup. All previous four World Cup tournaments staged in South America were won by South American teams.
In March 2003, FIFA announced that the tournament would be held in South America for the first time since 1978, in line with its then-active policy of rotating the right to host the World Cup among different confederations. The decision meant that it would be the first time that two consecutive World Cups will be staged outside Europe. Only Brazil and Colombia formally declared their candidacy but, after the withdrawal of the latter from the process, Brazil was officially elected as host nation unopposed on 30 October 2007.
Following qualification matches between June 2011 and November 2013, the following 32 teams – shown with their final pre-tournament FIFA World Rankings – qualified for the final tournament. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only team with no previous World Cup Finals experience. Only three top-25 ranked teams did not qualify for the tournament: Ukraine (16), Denmark (23) and Slovenia (25).
The 32 participating teams were to be drawn into the eight groups of the group stage. In preparation for this, the teams were organized into four pots with the seven highest-ranked teams joining host nation Brazil in the seeded pot. As with the previous tournaments, FIFA aimed to create groups which maximized geographic separation and therefore the unseeded teams were arranged into pots based on geographic considerations. The draw took place on 6 December 2013 at the Costa do Sauipe resort in Bahia, during which the teams were drawn by various past World Cup-winning players. Under the draw procedure, one randomly drawn team was firstly relocated from Pot 4 to Pot 2 to create four equal pots of eight teams.
Twelve venues (seven new and five renovated) in twelve cities have been selected for the tournament. The venues cover all the main regions of Brazil and create more evenly distributed hosting than the 1950 finals in Brazil. Consequently, the tournament will require long-distance travel for teams. During the World Cup, Brazilian cities will also be home to the participating teams at 32 separate base camps, as well as staging official fan fests where supporters can view the games.
New technologies that are being introduced to World Cup football for the first time include goal-line technology, vanishing spray, and improved football production technology. For the first time at a World Cup Finals, the officials are being assisted by goal-line technology. The previous World Cup was a catalyst for the decision to adopt technology after England were wrongly denied a goal in their round of 16 tie against Germany.
The total prize money on offer for the tournament was confirmed by FIFA as US$576 million (including payments of US$70 million to domestic clubs), a 37 percent increase from the amount allocated in the 2010 tournament. Before the tournament, each of the 32 entrants will receive US$1.5 million for preparation costs. Once at the tournament, the prize money will be distributed as follows: US $8 million – To each team eliminated at the group stage (16 teams), US $9 million – To each team eliminated in the round of 16 (8 teams), US $14 million – To each team eliminated in the quarter-finals (4 teams), US $20 million – Fourth placed team, US $22 million – Third placed team, US $25 million – Runner-up, US $35 million – Winner. The championship game is set for Sunday July 13th.