The World Cup is the biggest soccer tournament in the world. It is held every four years in a different country. Billions of people watch the televised games as the national teams from countries around the globe battle it out for soccer supremacy.
The 2002 World Cup was held in two places—Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo, Japan. Brazil won the 2002 World Cup and also has won the most World Cups (five) since the tournament began in 1930. The Women's World Cup was played in the United States in 1999 and again in 2003, and the U.S. won their second Cup in 1999 when Brandi Chastain scored in a penalty shootout to defeat China. The German team took the 2003 Women's World Cup.
Gerd Müller, who played for West Germany in the 1970 and 1974 World Cups, held the career record for most World Cup goals with 14 until he was surpassed by Ronaldo of Brazil in 2006. As of August 2008, Ronaldo holds 15 World Cup goals.
The University of North Carolina has won an incredible 16 national championships in women's soccer since the first tournament was played in 1982.
The United States' Major League Soccer made its debut in 1996, shortly after the wildly successful 1994 World Cup was hosted by the United States.
Brazilian striker Ronaldo was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1998 World Cup, even though his team lost in the championship game to France. THe has also been named World Player of the Year three times.
In 2002, Germany's Oliver Kahn became the first goalkeeper to win the Most Valuable Player of the World Cup.
Mia Hamm, a star forward on the U.S. women's national team, was once a two-time national collegiate player of the year for the University of North Carolina. She was on the 1996 and 2004 Olympic gold medal winning U.S. team as well as the 1999 World Cup team.
The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) made its debut in 2001. Eight teams participated, and Brandi Chastain's Bay Area CyberRays won the inaugural league championship over Atlanta. The league disbanded in 2003.