World Cup 2010: Your stories
For the first time, this year's football World Cup is being held on African soil.
Host nation, South Africa, will see 32 countries taking part - some despite political or economic problems at home, while others following qualification after a significant number of years' absence.
BBC News website readers from around the globe are speaking about what the World Cup means to them and the impact it has on their countries.
Kyungho Rhee, Seoul, South Korea
South Korea has been at odds with neighbouring North Korea, particularly after the sinking of a South Korean warship in March. In football, South Korea has the experience of reaching the 2002 World Cup semi-finals behind them.
Some are worried that we're in a hard group, but we're going to take it one step at a time. Everyone is saying we should have no fear. We have beaten great teams in the past and it's said that we now have our strongest team in history.
We have lots of sports programmes that are looking back to our success in 2002. Each World Cup game will be shown live. We can even see matches on 3D TV.
North Korea doesn't pay TV royalties for World Cup games, so South Korea has been broadcasting matches for the north in the past. But since tensions have been brewing over the sinking of the Cheonan, South Korea will not be broadcasting for the north, even though North Korea is also playing in the tournament.
Football is the most popular sport in the country, but baseball is big too - we won gold in the 2008 Olympics. Our Baseball Federation has changed the times of baseball games so that they don't clash with the World Cup fixtures. The federation didn't want no-one watching baseball!
Ed Strafford, Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand is a wealthy Pacific nation, with agriculture as its main industry. The 'All Whites' will be competing in the finals for the first time in 28 years.
New Zealand's national sport is known to be rugby, but the World Cup has provided the opportunity to push and grow the game and have conversations about football.
A few years ago, local businessman Terry Serepisos invested millions of New Zealand dollars into the game, and in Wellington, you'll see more football shirts worn than rugby shirts.
New Zealand is changing culturally. There are more migrants from Africa and Asia who are not rugby fans but football fans, so that has also boosted the sport here.
Despite the time difference, I'll be watching the All Whites' games live at around 2am, and I will try to fit in as many 6.30am games as possible into my pre-work routines and be tactical in attending early meetings.
Other games will be recorded and highlights shows will be watched. I may take some annual leave, either for sleep recovery or to indulge and celebrate football!
If we can get a point in the tournament, it would be a major achievement for the country.
Elias Kostopoulos, Athens, Greece
Greece is experiencing economic turmoil that has seen austerity measures imposed to reduce the public deficit. Greece won Euro 2004 but a decade earlier was its last appearance in the World Cup finals.
In the last few months, people have been in a bad mood. Greece is going through a tough time at the moment. But the World Cup has given us something else to think about - it's a break from the doom and gloom of the state of the economy.
Football is the number one sport in Greece. So for us, the World Cup is not only good entertainment but it is something to be enjoyed without spending too much money.
We are not as excited about the World Cup as we were for Euro 2004 - then, there were massive screens everywhere for people to watch the games. But now, there are no plans to have giant screens. People will just watch in pubs or at home.
At the end of the day, life has to go on and the World Cup has given us a new subject to talk about.
Ligia Maria Aguilar, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
The political chaos that ensued after the 2009 coup has polarised Honduras as the then President Manuel Zelaya was exiled and Porfirio Lobo was elected leader. Honduras last qualified for the World Cup in 1982.
I will be watching the Honduras matches and the crucial games for the region, although the time difference means I will have to watch them in the very early hours.
Football is a major distraction for Hondurans. Hotels are offering special packages with cocktails and a happy hour to watch the games.
My loyalties to teams are strictly political - so I will only support teams from countries that I identify with politically and have supported Zelaya, like Brazil and Argentina and, lately, Mexico.
I think the government will use Honduras' participation in the World Cup as an excuse to call for national reconciliation. I will be on the look-out for political rivals hugging each other, forgetting about what divides them.
Igor Zokic, Belgrade, Serbia
Serbia, a former republic of the old Yugoslav federation, became a stand-alone nation in 2006 after splitting from Montenegro. It has competed under different names in previous World Cups, but this year marks the first time it will play as Serbia.
I am a big football fan. Serbia will be playing Ghana on Sunday and I look forward to that. We'll gather a few friends and we'll have a barbeque on the balcony.
In the last World Cup, our team was Serbia and Montenegro, but it was a complete shambles; we got absolutely hammered by several countries, Argentina was the worst of our defeats.
This time round we are hoping we'll do better. We now have a good coach and a decent team. Some of the players are in England's Premier league.
When we were in Yugoslavia we had much more of a chance of winning, but because of the Bosnian war, it never happened.
There were big preparations and big ambitions for the 1994 World Cup. There was a ten-year programme that created a bunch of very good players. We were meant to take part, but the country broke up and the team never went. Then the players got scattered to various countries.
I'd love Serbia to win, but I don't think there's a chance. What I am hoping for is a semi-final place or more realistically, a quarter-final spot that would be a good result.
Nabil Mokrani, Bejaia, Algeria
Algeria has recently emerged from a brutal internal conflict that followed scrapped elections in 1992. Algeria won the African Cup of Nations in 1990, but it hasn't taken part in the World Cup finals since 1986.
We have a good team and I hope we will be able to reach the second round.
I will be watching the matches at home with friends.
It's a big event in Algeria, especially as we haven't participated in 24 years.
Millions of Algerians will be following the World Cup and everyone is thinking about it.