South Africa was chosen to host the 19th Fifa World Cup on 15 May 2004, beating off the challenge of Morocco and Egypt after Fifa had guaranteed that the tournament would be staged in Africa for the first time.
South Africa 2010 will take place between June 11 and July 11, with ten stadia in nine cities staging matches. The hosts qualify automatically, with five other African nations qualifying beside them. Europe has 13 representatives, Asia four, while North and central America provide three, South America five, and Oceania one.
The official mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is Zakumi, an anthropomorphised leopard with green hair.
On 17 March 2006, Fifa announced the ten venues that would stage matches at South Africa 2010 -
Cape Town (Cape Town Stadium, 69,070)
Durban (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 70,000)
Johannesburg (Soccer City, 91, 141 and also Ellis Park, 62, 567)
Nelspruit (Mbombela stadium, 43,500)
Polokwane (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 46,000)
Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 48,000)
Pretoria (Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 51, 760)
Bloemfontein (Free State Stadium, 48,000)
Rustenburg (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 42,000)
The first World Cup, known as the Jules Rimet Trophy, was staged by Uruguay in 1930. It was won by the hosts, who beat Argentina 4-2 in a tournament that attracted just 13 countries. The next two tournaments, held on European soil, were won by Italy before World War 2 intervened.
1950 saw the return of the World Cup, with Uruguay winning again in Brazil in the only edition to feature a group stage rather than a semifinal and final - although the final game was coincidentally also the title decider. England took part for the first time in 1950 but lost 1-0 to the USA in arguably the World Cup's greatest ever shock.
In 1954 West Germany beat Hungary 3-2 in Switzerland to lift the trophy, the Hungarians' first defeat for over two years, while four years later in Sweden Brazil won the first time thanks to a double in the final from a 17-year-old Pele.
Brazil won again in Chile in 1962, but four years later in England the hosts won with one of the most contentious Final goals ever among Geoff Hurst's only ever Final hat-trick against West Germany.
1970's tournament is widely seen as having been the best ever, and was won by a swashbuckling Brazil in Pele's World Cup swansong. In 1974 West Germany won on home soil, as did Argentina in 1978, both times beating an apparently superior Netherlands team.
Spain flopped as hosts in 1982, which was won by Italy for the third time. Four years later a Maradona-inspired Argentina won in Mexico, a tournament that was moved from Colombia at short notice. Argentina fell in the final four years after that, as West Germany won their final tournament before reunification in 1990.
The USA staged a successful World Cup in 1994, though the final was the first to end goalless and to go to penalties - Brazil beat Italy. France won on home soil in 1998, thanks to a majestic performance from Zinedine Zidane against Brazil.
The Brazilians won their fifth World Cup four years later as the tournament was staged jointly for the first time, between Japan and Korea Republic - the first to be held in Asia. Back in Germany four years later, Italy beat France in another final decided on penalties, winning it for the fourth time.
WORLD CUP WINNERS:
Brazil 5, Italy 4, Germany/West Germany 3, Uruguay, Argentina 2, England, France 1.