By Natasha Baker
TORONTO (Reuters) - Soccer fans eager to stay in the loop and follow their favorite teams and players during World Cup in Brazil can keep up with the action on their smartphones using apps created for the tournament.
Thirty-two national teams will compete in the World Cup, organized by the world soccer body FIFA, in 12 host cities during the competition that begins on Thursday and runs to July 13.
“Brazil is known for being the land of football, and now we host the biggest sporting event on the planet. The benefits are already being felt,” said a spokesman for the Special Secretariat of the World Cup (Secopa), which is coordinating the competition in the state of Ceará in northeastern Brazil.
The new apps join a cornucopia of ways to follow the cup, including television and the Internet.
OneFootball Brasil, a company based in Berlin, has developed a new app for the 2014 World Cup for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone that provides scores and game news about fans' favorite teams and players.
“Soccer fans have a strong attachment to their teams and countries, and want to be there to cheer for them and feel like they’ve actually had a part in making their team win,” said Jonathan Lavigne, the company's chief technology officer.
Users can pick a team, and the app creates a personalized feed of news, statistics and scores, along with push notifications for real-time updates.
The free app, which is available worldwide in 15 languages, also includes real-time, minute-by-minute commentary on games, match schedules, data on each player, and news and commentary on games and teams.
“Recently, our key player got injured and won’t play in the World Cup, for example. This is addictive and emotional information that I need to know as a fan right when it happens,” Lavigne explained.
Fans in the United States can stream all 64 games live on their smartphones with WatchESPN for Android, iOS, and Windows 8 with a cable subscription, and for free in Canada with the CBC 2014 FIFA World Cup app for iPhone and Android.
FIFA also has a free, official app, called FIFA, for iOS and Android. It provides scores, game schedules, headlines, photos and videos.
“The World Cup is the premier sporting event in the world, even bigger than the Olympics,” said Jonathan Savage, senior vice president at TheScore, based in Toronto.
The TheScore app is available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry 10 devices worldwide in English. It enables soccer fans to track teams and players in a real-time personalized feed. Users can follow the World Cup League and customize the notifications they receive, including goals, red cards, half-time scores and match start and end times.
A total of 204 teams across six continents competed for a spot at the 2014 World Cup. Brazil has won the competition, which is held every four years, five times, according to FIFA.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jonathan Oatis)