The 2010 World Cup is underway! Brazil and Spain may be the favorites, but superstars Kaka and Fernando Torres won’t help their countries score on clean air and low greenhouse-gas emissions as they compete with some of the world’s environmental powerhouses in the bid for the 2010 Green Cup.

To celebrate the World Cup soccer teams whose nations are also champions of the environment, I pitted these countries against each other in the World Cup draw. I ranked the teams based on Yale’s 2010 Environmental Performance Index — instead of soccer skills — to find out which countries advance to the knockout stage and which country ultimately takes home the 2010 Green Cup.

Environmental Performance Index rankings for each nation are indicated in parentheses. A lower number indicates a better ranking.

France flag

Group A:

France (7)

Mexico (43)

South Africa (115)

Uruguay (83)

Who moves on: France and Mexico

Analysis: France dominated the group, advancing alongside a decent but unspectacular Mexico side. No chance, really, for the host country South Africa with such a low overall ecosystem vitality score. And an extremely poor biodiversity showing kept Uruguay from advancing.