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The World Cup Is Over, So Let's Finally Answer All Your Burning Soccer Questions

07/14/2014 02:50 pm ET | Updated Aug 07, 2014
Elsa via Getty Images

After weeks of wonder goals, GIF roundups and post-game selfies, the World Cup frenzy has drawn to a close.

If you're new to the sport (or even if you're a longtime footy fan) you've probably beefed up your soccer knowledge considerably in the past month. Still, a few questions may have gone unanswered while we were distracted. Before you move on, we're tackling a few of the biggest questions you may still have about the World Cup.

Who were those kids that walk out with the players before each match?

world cup players escorts

Gokhan Inler of Switzerland leads his team to the field with their player escorts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Switzerland and France at Arena Fonte Nova on June 20, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The pint-sized player escorts who walked out before each match are part of FIFA's youth program which soccer's governing body says connects youth from more than 70 countries with the sport.

Kids between the ages of six and 18 are eligible for the program, and apply with the tournaments partners and sponsors like McDonald's, Sony and Coca Cola, according to FIFA. The children who walk out on the field holding players' hands, for example, are from the McDonald’s player escort program which comprises more than 1,400 youngsters. Other roles for youth program participants include carrying the national flags, the FIFA Fair Play flags or assisting the sideline ball crew.

Some of the children, like those from the U.S., were chosen through a sweepstakes, the London Free Press reports. All the children selected get a four-night, five-day trip to Brazil (along with a parent or guardian) and play in matches with other participants.

Other than glory and worldwide bragging rights, do the winning teams get any kind of reward?

world cup celebration

In this Sunday, July 12, 1998 file photo, French teammates from left, Zinedine Zidane, Marcel Desailly and Laurent Blanc hold the soccer World Cup after France defeated Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup final soccer match, at the Stade de France in Saint Denis. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

A gold trophy, lots of slaps on the back, maybe a statue of you and your teammates? The answer is "yes," across the board, but when it comes down to the bottom line, World Cup victors also stand to earn cold hard cash.

Though FIFA snagged $4.5 billion in revenue from broadcasters, sponsors, hospitality and licensing deals, the Associated Press reports the 32 national federations (read: all the teams that made the cut to play in the World Cup) get just $400 million of that pie.

The winning team's national soccer federation will also get a cool $35 million in prize money, which the federation can spend as it pleases (including in the form of bonuses for the individual players). The runner-up is awarded $25 million, while third and fourth-place finishers get $22 and $20 million, respectively.

Even teams that that don't make it past the group stage are given $1.5 million to prepare for the tournament.

What happens to the stadiums in the host country after the tournament?

world cup stadium brazil

The 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Estadio Nacional on July 11, 2014 in Brasilia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Brazil's World Cup stadiums have been lightening rods for criticism since the host cities were announced due to soaring building costs, claims the sites displaced local communities and concerns about future uses.

In 12 cities throughout the country, five stadiums were renovated while entirely new ones were built in seven others -- including the especially controversial Manaus stadium that was built in a remote Amazonian town in the rainforwest at a cost of $270 million. The Manaus stadium was used only four times, with limited plans for further use after the tournament ends.

Even previously existing stadiums that were refurbished, like the one in Brasilia, will only expect to draw crowds a fraction the size of World Cup audiences. Few of the host cities have local club teams that will be able to regularly fill the stadiums. Brazilian officials hope the venues can find new audiences with concerts and conventions. Jose Maria Marin, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, told the AP finding uses after the World Cup would "all depend on the creativity, the imagination of the owners and the operators of these stadiums."

I really like that Tim Howard. Will he play another World Cup?

tim howard

Goalkeeper Tim Howard of the United States looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Howard's history-making performance in the 2-1 loss to Belgium made him a household name -- and not a moment too soon. The 35-year-old goalkeeper has been playing pro soccer since 1997, so many see this year's cup as the twilight of Howard's impressive career. Though Howard earlier this spring inked a two-year extension contract with his pro team, Everton, he'll be pushing 40 by the next World Cup (where the historically "perfect" age for a male World Cup player is 27.5).

What's more, earlier this spring, Howard not-so-cryptically told ESPNFC.com: "I'll be on a beach somewhere when I'm 40. I would pretty much take it to the bank that I won't be playing past 40. There are other things I want to achieve in life, other things that I want to do."

Where does the winning country keep the World Cup trophy?

world cup trophy

The Italian goldsmith and sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga poses with his most important work, the FIFA World Cup at GDE Bertoni factory in Paderno Dugnano, near Milan, Italy, on Thursday, June 3, 2014. (Giuseppe Aresu/AP Images)

Unlike other sports trophies like hockey's Stanley Cup -- which victorious players get the schlep around and shower with -- FIFA doesn't let the actual World Cup trophy out of its clutches.

Trophies used to be considered permanent property of the winning federations before 1970, but now FIFA rules state the trophy can no longer be won outright, and the original must stay in FIFA's possession. Nowadays, winners get gold-plated replicas known as the FIFA World Cup Winners' Trophies (hey, it beats a kick in the teeth).

As for the actual trophy, FIFA lists its specs as a 14.5 inches tall prize weighing 13.61 pounds due to its 18-carat gold makeup and malachite base. The name and year of every World Cup winner since 1974 is engraved on the bottom.

Where will the next World Cup be held?

womens world cup soccer

Bangladeshi women walk past a street painting of Argentina footballer Lionel Messi as 2014 FIFA World Cup art is painted by football fans on the walls of old Dhaka on July 10, 2014. (MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Depends on which tournament you're talking about. The Women's World Cup, held on odd years, roars back to action next year in Canada (and unlike the men, the U.S. women have won the cup several times over).

As for the fellas, the next men's World Cup is in 2018 with Russia as the host.

Ugh. That's so far away and I've been bitten by Luis Suarez/the soccer bug. What's the next big soccer event I can look forward to?

american soccer fan

United States fans react while watching the final minutes of the 2014 World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany at a public viewing party, in Detroit, Thursday, June 26, 2014. Germany defeated the United States 1-0 to win Group G ahead of the Americans, who also advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup despite losing. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

You're in luck because soccer is all around! In the U.S., Major League Soccer is in the midst of its season; the Gold Cup and Copa America tournaments will take place in 2015 (along with the aforementioned Women's World Cup); the always anticipated European Championship returns in 2016. There is also nearly constant action in the various domestic leagues around the world.

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