The 2002 FIFA World Cup took place in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June 2002. It was the first time that a World Cup was held in Asia, and the first and last, so far, which was co-hosted by two countries. South Korea was given the tournament opener, while Japan was awarded the final. This World Cup was completely different at anything seen in history. The infrastructure of the cities and stadiums, most of them built from scratch, simply surprised the world. 32 teams from 5 confederations participated in the final tournament: 15 from Europe (UEFA), 5 from South America (CONMEBOL), 3 from North America, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF), 5 from Africa (CAF), and 4 from which Asia (AFC). Four teams made their first World Cup presentation (China PR, Ecuador, Senegal, and Slovenia). The Brazilians’ skill and style was evident in this World Cup and they deservedly won the fifth World Cup title. Ronaldo simply shone. Besides score the goals of the Final, he was the Golden Shoe of the tournament.
The first round had some facts quite interesting. The most important were obviously the rapid elimination of defending champion and EURO 2000 winners France, and the pre-tournament favorite, Argentina. In Group A, Denmark and the newcomer Senegal advanced to the knockout stage. Senegal, the West African nation, that was making its World Cup debut, began with a spectacular and dramatic 1-0 win in the opening match of the World Cup that shocked the reigning champion France. The French played without the injured Zinedine Zidane. Senegal earned two draw with Denmark and Uruguay later and progressed to the second round. France, on the other hand, never recovered from the first game, drew with Uruguay in a goalless draw, and lost 2-0 to Denmark in the last game. France, the reigning champion, suddenly had to go home without winning a game, without score a single goal in either of the three games, and with the unwanted record of being the worst defending champion in the World Cups’ history. The two-time World Champion, Uruguay, was far from a good performance. In the first game, Uruguay was defeated 2-1 by Denmark, and two consecutive draws with France and Senegal left them out of the tournament. The best match of Uruguay coincidentally ended up being the last game against Senegal. The match was vibrant and finished 3-3, after a spectacular comeback of Uruguay that was losing 3-0. The leader of the Group A was the impressive Denmark. Spain with three comfortable wins topped Group B ahead of Paraguay. South Africa made a good tournament, but it was not enough to advance to the next round. They finished with the same points as Paraguay, but were overtaken on goal difference. Slovenia, another of the newcomers, had to go home with no points. In Group C, Brazil won all their games to advance on the right track to the second stage. Turkey advanced as second place, beating Costa Rica on goal difference. The other newcomer China and its popular Serbian coach Bora Milutinović had also to go home with no points and without score at least one goal. The host South Korea and the United States advanced to the round of 16 in Group D. Poland and Portugal, the two Europeans teams, both with a win and two lost could not progress to the knockout stage. Figo's golden generation that reached the semi-finals of 2000 UEFA European Football Championship and was runners-up four years later had to go home very disappointed. Germany and Republic of Ireland progressed in Group E. Germany thrashed Saudi Arabia 8-0, the biggest win by goal difference of the tournament. The African champions Cameroon and Saudi Arabia, the worst team of the tournament, were eliminated in the first round. Saudi Arabia was also an unwanted record: lost all three games, did not score any goals and took home 12 goals. One of the biggest surprises of the tournament occurred undoubtedly in Group F, otherwise known as the Group of Death, when the pre-tournament favorites Argentina were eliminated in the first round. In the first game, Argentina defeated Nigeria 1-0, but a loss to their legendary rival England 1-0 that took revenge over its loss to Argentina four years earlier, and a subsequent draw with Sweden deprived them of advancing to the next round. Argentina was headed home far earlier than the entire world expected. Sweden topped Group F ahead of England. It must be stated that none of the teams of Group of Death reached the semi-finals. Mexico and Italy advanced in Group G. Mexico won the group, and Italy miraculously advanced to the next round. Italy could move to the knockout stage thanks to Ecuador win’s over Croatia. Ecuador had lost both previous matches and Croatia needed only a draw to advance to the next round. Japan, the other co-host with an incredible enthusiastic public, and Belgium progressed to the following round in the weakest group of the tournament. The Russians and Tunisia were sent home early.
The round of 16 brought few shocks. Perhaps the most important was the elimination of Italy, in a game with many controversies, in the hands of one of the hosts, South Korea. England comfortably defeated Denmark 3-0, while Germany suffered as always in a very tense and defensive game against Paraguay and ended up winning as ever thanks to a goal from Neuville in the 87th minute. Spain suffered more than necessary to beat Republic of Ireland 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out. Spain looked like they would be going through in normal time, but Robbie Keane in the 90th minute with a penalty levelled the scores. The extra-time had remained goalless. The newcomer Senegal continued generating buzz and this time defeated Sweden 2-1, thanks to a golden goal of Henri Camera in the 104th minute. The match ended tied 1-1. In a typical CONCACAF match between two bitter enemies, United States defeated Mexico 2-0, and Brazil had no major problems to beat Belgium 2-0. The co-hosts, Japan and South Korea, played on the last day of the round of 16. Turkey ended the dreams of all Japanese defeating 1-0, while South Korea beat Italy 2-1 in a tense match thanks to a golden goal in the 117th minute from Ahn Jung-Hwan. Gaucci, the President of Perugia, said he would no longer employ Ahn, whose golden goal dumped Italy out of the World Cup in the second round. This was one of the most shocking results in the history of the World Cup.
In the quarter-finals, Brazil defeated England 2-1, and Germany was fortunate enough to beat USA 1-0, thanks to a string of saves of Olivier Kahn and a goal-line hand by Torsten Frings. This was a clear penalty that was not conceded to USA. Turkey ended the run of Senegal thanks to a golden goal in the 94th minute from Ilham. We put our country on the map and there's nothing bigger than that, said Pape "Papa" Bouba Diop. The Guus Hiddink’s men beat Spain 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out after both normal time and extra-time remained goalless. The match was quite controversial, since Spain had two goals controversially disallowed in each half of regulation time and one more in extra time. The officials' mistakes were so obvious that many came to believe there was an orchestrated campaign to ensure that Korea will advance to the final. South Korea became the first team of the AFC to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
The first semi-final faced the host South Korea, against Germany. The playmaker Michael Ballack scored the only goal of the match in the 75th minute, and therefore Germany was again in a final. The other semi-final was contested by Brazil and one of the surprises of the tournament Turkey. A goal by Ronaldo gave Brazil a berth in the final. This was practically a replay of the first round encounter in Group C, when Brazil defeated Turkey 1-0. Turkey finally had the consolation prize after beating in the third-place match in a very interesting game to South Korea 3-2.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup Final was contested at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama, before a crowd of 69,000 followers, for Brazil, the most successful national football team in the history of the FIFA World Cup with four championships, led by a group of stars like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, and Germany, one of the three most successful national teams in international competitions, having won a total of three World Cups, led by Oliver Kahn. Ballack, the superstar of Germany, picked up his third yellow card in the semi-final ruling him out for the final. A battle between two contrasting styles: the attacking firepower of Brazil, and the solid defense of Germany and the extraordinary work of Kahn that had only been beaten once in six games. Brazil, however, showed again the attacking firepower and two goals of the hero Ronaldo were enough to defeat Germany 2-0. The performance of Brazil was impressive in the tournament, won all seven of their games and only allowed a single goal. Brazil became the first country to claim an unprecedented fifth world crown.
The top scorer (Golden Shoe) of the tournament was Ronaldo of Brazil, who would go on to score eight goals. Ronaldo became the second best scorer in the history of World Cups, only surpassed by Gerd Muller who scored 10 goals in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Oliver Kahn of Germany had the honor of being elected both the best player (Golden Ball) and best goalkeeper (Yashin Award) of the tournament. Landon Donovan of United States was elected Best Young Player. Belgium, on the other hand, received the FIFA Fair PlayAward, and South Korea received the FIFA Award for the Most Entertaining Team. The names that people probably remember from those times are:
Korea Republic and Japan were chosen to host the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, at the FIFA Congress in Zürich, Switzerland, on May 31, 1996. Initially, Korea Republic, Japan and Mexico had submitted the bid to host the tournament, but Asian countries agreed to unite their bids before the decision was made. Consequently, they were chosen unanimously in preference to Mexico. This was the first and only time to date that the World Cup would be hosted by two countries.
It is also worth mentioning that Japan was chosen to co-host the tournament, although Japan had never qualified for a World Cup final.
Teams that played at least one qualifying match:
2,452 (3.15 per match)
A total of 199 teams signed up to participate in the 2002 World Cup qualification rounds. These were the biggest World Cup qualifiers in all the World Cup history. Korea Republic and Japan, as the hosts, and France, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 29 spots open for competition. The 29 available spots were distributed in continental zones as shown below:
Europe (UEFA): (13.5 + 1) spots. 50 teams competed for 13 direct places. The winner of the 0.5 spot would progress to the international playoff against a team from AFC. France, as the defending champion, qualified automatically.
South America (CONMEBOL): 4.5 spots. 10 teams competed for 4 direct places. The winner of the 0.5 spot would progress to the international playoff against a team from OFC.
North America, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 spots. 35 teams competed for 3 direct places. Guyana withdrew.
Africa (CAF): 5 spots. 51 teams competed for 5 direct places. Burundi withdrew. Guinea were excluded after the first round. Their match results were annulled.
Asia (AFC): (2.5 + 2) spots. 40 teams competed for 2 direct places. The winner of the 0.5 spot would progress to the international playoff against a team from UEFA. Myanmar withdrew.
Oceania (OFC): 0.50 spot. 10 teams competed for 0.5 spot. The winner of the 0.5 spot would progress to the international playoff against a team from CONMEBOL.
Republic of Ireland from UEFA and Iran from AFC advanced to the UEFA/AFC Intercontinental Playoff. In the first game before a crowd of 36,000, Republic of Ireland defeated Iran 2-0 in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, on 10 November 2001. In the second game before a crowd of 100,000, Iran beat Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Teheran, Iran, on 15 November 2001. Republic of Ireland qualified by the aggregate score of 2-1. Moreover, Uruguay from CONMEBOL and Australia from OFC advanced to the CONMEBOL/OFC Intercontinental Playoff. In the first game before a crowd of 84,000, Australia defeated Uruguay 1-0 in Melbourne, Australia, on 20 November 2001. In the second game before a crowd of 62,000, Uruguay beat Australia 3-1 in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 25 November 2001. Uruguay qualified by the aggregate score of 3-0.
It is worth mentioning that two new records were set in the 2002 FIFA World Cup' qualification matches. Germany, one of the strongest teams in the world, lost a World Cup qualifying match for only the second time on 1 September 2001, when they were beat by one of their worst enemies, England, 5-1 in Munich. On the other hand, Australia beat American Samoa 31-0 setting a World Cup record for the highest margin of victory in a qualifying match.