Introduction to the World Cup
The year was 1930. The United States of America had just witnessed the most devastating stock market crash that would lead to a 12-year Great Depression. English author J R R Tolkien was still conceptualising the Middle Earth where his epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings will take place while on the other side of the globe, Mahatma Gandhi was stirring India by demanding its independence from Britain’s colonial rule.
But in one small South American country called Uruguay, the people had their eyes and ears only for football. Uruguay was chosen to host the first ever football World Cup — an honour it fully deserved after emerging as the winners in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris and then following it up with the same feat at the 1928 Games at Amsterdam.
But the response to the inaugural world championship wasn’t all that promising. Apart from the hosts Uruguay, only 12 other countries participated. Despite all of Europe being invited, only four teams showed up at Montevideo — the football authorities owed it to the difficulty of travelling to South America which was, by the then standards, a remote location on the world map.
Uruguay, of course, lifted the trophy at the end of it all. Coached by a 31-year-old Albero Suppici and employing an ultra-attacking 2-3-5 formation which was all the vogue in those days, they defeated Argentina in the final sparking celebrations across the Latin American nation. However, in places like Europe, the victory only merited single column newspaper stories, at the very best.
It is safe to say that the World Cup has come a long way since the 1930s. Fast forward to 2014 and there were 204 teams that battled it out for a place in the main event of World Cup which was held in the spiritual home of the beautiful game that is Brazil. But after a qualification campaign which lasted more than two years and saw plenty of moments of tears and joy, only 32 teams became the part of the 20th edition of World Cup.
Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in front of a packed Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to secure their fourth world title, but the 74,738 that witnessed the match at the grand arena was merely a speck compared to the enormity of the reach of the tournament in the modern era dominated by digital devices and blazing fast internet.
According to figures released by football’s world governing body FIFA, the 2014 World Cup reached a global television audience of 3.2 billion people which is almost half of the world population! More than one billion had tuned in and sat in front of their television sets to watch the final alone. From single column stories in 1930 to every single match broadcasted across every single country in the world, the World Cup has grown exponentially.
As another edition of the tournament dawns on us, this time to be played in Russia, World Cup has gone from a 13-team football competition to a multi-billion dollar industry. It also sometimes wield plenty of political influence as Russia and its president Vladimir Putin look to make a statement by the successful hosting of the World Cup and score a victory of sorts over their political opponents.
However, it is still sporting glory and achievement that is central to the tournament and it is what pulls the spectators to the mega sports event which has undoubtedly established as the biggest sporting event in the world. Every passing edition of the cup gifts plenty of memories to the football fans that will live in them forever and there is no reason to doubt that the 2018 World Cup will be any different.
When and where?
The biggest sporting event in the world will visit the largest country in the world this summer as Russia prepares to host the 21st edition of the tournament. The tournament will be held from June 14, 2018, to July 15, 2018, in 12 football stadiums across 11 host cities in what is the ninth most populous country in the world.
The 21st edition of the World Cup will be the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe and the first in Europe since the 2006 event that was held in Germany. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Ekaterinburg are the 11 cities picked for the world event. All the stadiums are located in European Russia to keep travel time manageable, however, the distance between Moscow and Ekaterinburg still stands over 1,700 kilometres.
A total of 64 matches are to be played. Hosts Russia will play in the opening match of the tournament at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018, against Saudi Arabia — incidentally also the two teams ranked lowest in the tournament at the time of the final draw in October 2017. The group stages will be held until June 28 followed by the Round of 16 to be held from June 30 to July 3.
The quarterfinal ties are to be held on July 6 and 7 followed by the semifinals at St Petersburg and Moscow on July 10 and 11 respectively. The final will also take place on July 15 at the 81,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium which hosted the UEFA Champions League final in 2008 between Chelsea and Manchester United.
The teams in Russia
The road to Russia for footballing nations across the globe was one which was long and arduous. Hundreds fell along the way, but 32 will be present when the ball rolls at stadiums across the country with a shot at winning the most prestigious trophy in the offing in world football.
While Russia secured an automatic qualification as the host nation, all 210 other FIFA member associations were eligible to enter the qualifying process. It was for the first time in history that all eligible nations registered for the preliminary rounds, however Zimbabwe, for non-payment of debt to their coach, and Indonesia, for a dispute over the who ruled the country’s football, were expelled by FIFA even before they played a qualifying game.
Bhutan, South Sudan, Gibraltar and Kosovo made their FIFA World Cup qualification debuts while Myanmar played all their home matches outside the country after facing a ban by FIFA for crowd trouble in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The first qualifying event for the 2018 tournament was held in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony in Southeast Asia, on March 12, 2015, while East Timorese player Chiquito do Carmo scored the first goal of qualification.
Europe (UEFA) had the most qualifying spot with 14 teams qualifying for the World Cup including hosts Russia while Africa (CAF) contributed five teams to the World Cup. Asia (AFC) and South America (CONMEBOL) had 4.5 teams each while North America (CONCACAF) had 3.5 teams for the summer’s event. Oceania (OFC) had 0.5 slots for the finals.
One team each from AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and OFC played in the inter-confederation play-offs, held from November 10-15, 2017, to decide which team among them qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
Brazil was the first team to qualify for the mega event that will see 20 nations that will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014. Meanwhile, Iceland, who had a fairytale run in the 2016 European championships, and Panama will be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup.
Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Egypt qualified as group winners from CAF while France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium and Iceland progressed as group winners from UEFA. Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden and Denmark joined them after playing a play-off.
From Asia, it was group winners Iran and Japan followed by runners-up South Korea and Saudi Arabia who secured early qualification. From South America, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia qualified while Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama made it to the finals from North America. The remaining spots went to Peru who beat Oceania’s New Zealand 2-0 in the play-off while Australia made it defeating Honduras 3-1 in their play-off game.
However, there are also some iconic teams that failed to qualify and will miss out on the World Cup. The biggest name on that list is perhaps the 2006 World Cup champions Italy. The Azzurri had only missed one World Cup in their history before which was in 1958. They faced Sweden in a play-off between two second-placed teams but failed to score even a single goal over two legs and also missed the ticket to Russia.
The Netherlands, which boasts of a rich history in the sport, was the other shocking absentee from the World Cup. You would expect a team with players like Arjen Robben, Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay to make it to the world stage, but that wasn’t to be the case as they finished behind both France and Sweden in Group A.
Chile who had reached the quarterfinals in 2014 World Cup are also missing from the list of countries at the upcoming World Cup. It is all the more shocking as they were ranked fourth in FIFA World Rankings as recently as July 2017 and reached the final of the 2016 Confederations Cup. Though, it would be a shame to not witness the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal at the worlds.
CONCACAF Gold Cup champions USA, Cameroon who were a joy to watch in the 1990 World Cup led by Roger Milla, 2010 World Cup dark horses Ghana, Euro 2004 champions Greece, African powerhouse Cote de Ivoire and Edin Dzeko-led Bosnia and Herzegovina are other big names the world will not get the chance to witness this summer.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group A garners plenty of interest as it features host nation Russia, former world champions Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Only one host nation, South Africa in 2010, have failed to progress from the group stages in history, but Russia won’t have it easy as it is going to be a scramble between the trio of them, Uruguay and Egypt.
Russia is a mix of youth and a few experienced stars like former Chelsea defender Yuri Zhirkov and captain Igor Akinfeev. They have failed to make an impact at both the Euros and Confederations Cup but has since held mighty Spain to a draw which must give some hope for their supporters.
Saudi Arabia will make their first appearance in the World Cup after a hiatus of 12 years, but it would be a miracle if they progress out of the group stages. They are managed by Juan Antonio Pizzi who led Chile to a championship win in the Copa America Centenario in 2016 and will rely on striker Mohammed Al Sahlawi who was the joint top scorer in the Asian qualifiers with 16 goals.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are two strikers who can incite fear in any defender and Uruguay comes to the World Cup with the duo fronting their attack. However, the team has been dogged by inconsistency in performance levels for ages and much will rely on Barcelona forward Suarez who is arguably at the peak of his career.
Waht Suarez is to Uruguay, Mohamed Salah is to Egypt and a little more. The Little Magician who has been in sublime form for Liverpool and took them to the final of the UEFA Champions League is facing a race to be fit for the World Cup and he will need to fire on all cylinders if Egypt are to qualify for the knockout stages.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
It is one of the exciting groups of the 2018 World Cup as two heavyweights Spain and Portugal are clubbed with two equally promising sides in Morocco and Iran. Portugal comes into the World Cup as the European champions, but they are a team on the decline relying heavily on their legendary attacker Cristiano Ronaldo. They are a team that focus on defending first and provide enough assistance to their star forward who can create goals out of nothing.
Meanwhile, Spain are perennial favourites for the championship and has a supremely talented squad featuring David de Gea, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Thiago Alcantara and Diego Costa to name a few. The 2010 champions will also want to give a fitting farewell to 33-year-old Andres Iniesta who is set to retire from international football.
Perhaps Iran’s biggest strength is not on the field, but in the dugout where sat will be Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach who was assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and later on coached the national team of his home country. Iran won’t be mere pushovers in the group as their qualifying campaign proves — one which they ended without tasting a single defeat.
Morocco have the history of progressing from a World Cup group containing Portugal — back in 1986, they became the first African nation to reach the knockout stages by topping the group that also featured England and Poland. Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia will be one Moroccan player to watch out as he forms the backbone of the country’s defence.
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
On paper, they are one of the strongest squads in Russia this summer, and if France can deliver results on the green, they are good enough to at least reach the semifinals. A defence built around Raphael Varane, a midfield of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Adrien Rabiot and forwards like 18-year-old Paris St Germain star Kylian Mbappé and Atletico Madrid hitman Antoine Griezmann are under French coach Didier Deschamps’ disposal.
Australia took the long road to the World Cup as they overcome Syria in the AFC playoff, thanks to a goal from veteran Tim Cahill, and then defeated Honduras in the inter-confederations playoff. Aaron Mooy will be the key player for the Socceroos as the player comes on the back of a fruitful season in the English Premier League where he shined for Huddersfield Town FC.
Peru comes to the tournament with exciting young talents in the form of Renato Tapia, Andy Polo, Yordy Reyna, and Edison Flore. But their trump card is Sao Paulo attacking midfielder Christin Cueva. Cueva is capable of both creating and scoring his fair share of goals, but his disciplined defending and pressing will also be crucial in the white and reds’ progress.
Denmark has one of the meanest defences in the World Cup qualifiers conceding just eight goals from 10 matches. In front of that defence is Christian Eriksen who can pull the strings like he does for his club side Tottenham Hotspurs. Denmark had reached the quarterfinals in 1998 and the first knockout round in 2010. Anything more than a Round of 16 berth will require a miracle from the Denmark squad.
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
With Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina have a forward line which is an envy to the most but they have their shortcomings in midfield and defence. Even the buildup hasn’t been ideal with their first choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero ruled out with injury. Former Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli was brought in to balance the squad, the World Cup seems to have come a little too early for the acclaimed coach.
A lot has been written about Iceland’s fairytale run in the 2016 Euro which was their first run in the tournament. They come into their maiden World Cup as the smallest country to ever qualify for the championship. Dentist-turned-football coach Heimir Hallgrímsson will have a team which will be more than the sum of their units in a group which could be hard to manoeuvre.
Just like Iniesta at Barcelona, Luka Modric has been vital for Real Madrid over the years and his illustrious career is also reaching its finish line. And World Cup might be an opportunity for the Croatian to prove he is one of the modern greats of football by helping his country mount a good run in the tournament.
John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho are players very familiar to followers of the sport and Nigeria comes to the tournament with them and a group of other talented footballers after successfully tackling a tough qualifying campaign. They are the African team to watch out for in this edition of the World Cup.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
The disappointment of the disastrous 2014 World Cup on their home soil still haunts Brazilian football, its players, officials and fans. Reaching the semifinal wasn’t a bad result for Brazil, the way in which they were thrashed by Germany 7-1 knocked the wind out of the sails of the South American country. And Neymar and company know a World Cup title while only prove to be its redemption.
Switzerland are not a team to ignore in the World Cup. They have reached the Round of 16 in each of the last two championships. Skipper Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and former Bayern Munich star Xherdan Shaqiri make the Swiss a formidable side capable of at least making it past the group stages and having a go in the knockout phases.
Costa Rica comes into the World Cup having knocked out USA during the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers. Their main source of inspiration comes from below the crossbar where they have shot-stopper Keylor Navas. Navas will travel to the World Cup with the memories of another Champions League victory with Real Madrid fresh in his mind and will hope to instil some of that winning mentality in his national team colleagues.
The lanky Nemanja Matic, formerly of Chelsea and currently plying his trade at Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, is the key man for Serbia in this World Cup. The nation will want him to protect its defenders by being the destructor in midfield as the Serbs go into a major tournament after missing out on three previous occasions.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Defending world champions are heading to the tournament once again as red hot favourites. Having won the Confederations Cup with a second string side, master tactician Joachin Low will have a galaxy of stars under his disposal. The qualifiers were really a show of strength of the Germans as they won 10 out of 10 matches on their way to Russia. Brazil was the last team to win back-to-back World Cups in 1958 and 1962. And Germans have their sights trained on repeating that feat this time around.
Mexico are the other strong contender from Group F and the onus of taking them to another good run in the World Cup will fall on former Manchester United striker Chicharito. But Chicharito isn’t the only star of this team. They are also blessed with the likes of Hector Herrera and Hector Moreno. Add to the mix the tactical mind of Colombia coach Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico could be in line to spring a surprise or two this summer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be joining Sweden at the World Cup after flirting with a return to international football in the build-up to Russia. But Sweden coach Janne Anderson has decided to stick with almost the same group of players who took the nation to World Cup qualification in the absence of the big, lanky striker. Jakob Johansson, the scorer of the goal that finally clinched Sweden’s qualification, is the only absence after the player failed to recover in time from a knee injury.
Son Heung Min has lightened up the Premier League during the last couple of years and his country South Korea will demand no less from the Tottenham Hotspur man at the World Cup. They are coached by former international Shin Tae-Yong, known as the Korean Mourinho, who was promoted from the age-level national sides last June and will have to be at their best if they are to progress from a group with Germany, Sweden and Mexico.
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois — Belgium’s golden generation is a cause for concern for any opposition at this World Cup. But it will be interesting to see how coach Roberto Martinez will use the immense talent at his disposal. The Spaniard’s appointment had raised plenty of eyebrows and a good showing in the World Cup will serve to silence the manager’s doubters.
Panama will have little pressure as they make their maiden appearance in a World Cup finals. Some of their star players are Seatle Sounders defender Roman Torres, Dinamo Bucharest custodian Jaime Penedo and Gent midfielder Jose Luis Rodriguez. They reached the tournament in controversial circumstances as captain Torres scored a ghost goal that in turn knocked out the United States. A stubborn outfit, Panama might prove to be a tough nut to crack for their more accomplished group opponents.
Tunisia’s World Cup return after a hiatus of 12 years has already been hit by injuries to their key players Youssef Msakni and Taha Yassine Khenissi. While players like Saif-Eddine Khaoui, Anice Badri and Wahbi Khazri pack goals in them, it is hard to see how this team can score past the likes of superior oppositions in England and Belgium.
The world wait to see how England crumble every World Cup. However, this time around, the nation is heading to the World Cup with not much weight of expectation. And it could prove to be a good thing for the rather young English side. Harry Kane has been named the captain of the squad and if the striker can continue his purple patch, England could progress to the later stages of the tournament.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Rober Lewandowski has scored 16 goals in qualification for Poland and he will be a key factor for the nation as they are pooled into Group H, which is perhaps the most open pool at the 2018 World Cup. The Poles have a squad with players with considerable experience of top European leagues that could come in handy at the summer’s event. 23-year-old Napoli star Arkadiusz Milik will also be a name to watch out for at the tournament.
Back in the big league after 16 years, Senegal could really fancy their chances in the group thanks to players like Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly who are at the top of their games going into the World Cup. Add to that some fresh talents like 22-year-old Keita Balde Diao of AS Monaco and you have exciting team on the offing.
One of the stars of the 2014 World Cup was James Rodriquez and the Bayern Munich star is once again the livewire for the Colombians four years later. They will also have the ever-reliable veteran Radamel Falcao up front leading the attacks while the defence is safe in the hands of young blood in the form of Spurs centre-back Davinson Sanchez and Barcelona’s Yerry Mina.
Japan were a mean side conceding just seven goals in 10 matches during the Asian qualifiers and if they bring that solidity in defence to Russia, it could help them pave a way out of this difficult group. Inter Milan’s Yuto Nagatoma, Southampton’s Maya Yoshida and Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki are all players with experience of big stages to help their teammates in big pressure situations.
For a detailed look at the fixtures, visit http://rolltheball.com/world-cup-fixtures/
Why is Russia selected?
Russia jumped into the running to host the 2018 World Cup way back in 2009. Almost a year later, FIFA announced Russia as the host of the 2018 event as they beat a joint-bid from Spain and Portugal to host the tournament.
Several factors went into FIFA awarding Russia the event. First of all, the largest country in the world was yet to host the World Cup and FIFA saw this as an opportunity to grow the football market.
The political clout of Russian president Vladimir Putin was also evident throughout the campaign as Putin pulled all the strings to make sure that his country put up an impressive campaign to convince the world football governing body that they are ready to host the biggest sporting event on the globe.
However, the government’s close association with the conduct of the tournament also brought unwanted attention to the event, especially after the alleged poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in London leading to a diplomatic battle between Russia and Britain and there were threats of a pullout by England in the lead-up.
Though the diplomatic powerplay is yet to find an outcome, the World Cup is in full swing in the cities of Russia, always a beautiful and enchanting country to visit and even more so, when you mix football with it.
For our comprehensive Russia guide, visit http://rolltheball.com/news/russia-guide
Where to watch the World Cup
Just like the excitement it provides in the stadiums, the World Cup is also a very in-demand product for home audiences. And hence, the tournament will be broadcast across the globe with around half of the world’s population expected to tune in for the football gala.
FIFA had sold the broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively for an eye-popping amount in the excess of $3 billion with the US sales alone bringing in $1.2 billion. The world football body sells rights which include those for television, radio, internet and mobile.
A further $1.7 billion was raised from the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America which a saw a jump of over 90 per cent from the figures for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. FIFA earned $2.4 billion in broadcast sales worldwide during the 2010 World Cup, however, at Russia, it expects half of its predicted $6.56 billion to have come from broadcast sales.
In India, the two World Cup broadcast rights were bought by Sony Pictures Networks India for approximately $90 million. Sony owns sports channels like Sony SIX, Sony TEN 1, Sony TEN 2, Sony TEN 3 and Sony ESPN. Star India had screened the FIFA World Cup in 2010 after buying the rights for around $40 million.
Sony will also broadcast the matches in Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Fox Sports Asia will telecast the matches in most of the other Asian countries including Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Brunei.
In China, CCTV and CCTV will broadcast the 2018 World Cup while in Indonesia, it is the Trans TV which will bring the live matches to the audience. Fox Sports has the sole rights for live telecasting the matches in the United States, a right they bought for huge numbers. In Canada, CBC will join Fox as the official broadcaster. BBC and ITV will broadcast the matches for the United Kingdom.
Russia will host the 64 matches in the 2018 World Cup at its 12 stadiums in 11 cities spread over 1,800 miles.
The largest venue is the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow which will host the opening game of June 14 and the final 31 days later. It has a seating capacity of 81,000. The stadium which underwent refurbishment ahead of the tournament was reopened earlier this year.
The Samara Arena located in the sixth largest city of Russia which will play host to teams like Serbia, Denmark, Uruguay and Senegal was supposed to be built on an isolated island where almost no infrastructure existed. However, it was relocated to the city limits following criticism from various quarters. Just like that, each stadium at the World Cup has a story to tell.
For a detailed look at the stadiums hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, visit our Stadium Guide at http://rolltheball.com/news/fifa-world-cup-stadium-guide-2018
Total Prize Money
It’s not just in terms of passion and excitement that the World Cup leads the line. The tournament also carries one of the heaviest paychecks in the sports industry with FIFA handing out a total winning of $400 million for the 32 teams participating in the tournament.
The figure is a 12 per cent increase from the prize fund in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil which stood at $358 million. Each of the 32 teams will receive at least $8 million with the new world championships getting richer by $38 million. Meanwhile, the runners-up will go home with bitter disappointment, but with a purse of $28 million if that is any consolation. Both the figures are an increase of three million from 2014.
The third and fourth placed teams will bag $24 million and $22 million respectively while the quarterfinalists will each get $16 million. The teams eliminated in the last 16 will also get a decent pay of $12 million. Every team will also receive an additional $1.5 million from FIFA toward the costs of preparing for the tournament. Meanwhile, FIFA’s World Cup revenue is expected to exceed $5 billion.
World Cup 2018 Prize Money
|Position||Prize (per team)||Total prize fund|
|Group stage ||$8m $128m|
|Last 16 ||$12m $96m|
|Quarter-finals ||$16m $64m|
|Fourth place ||$22m $22m|
|Third place ||$24m $24m|
|Runners-up ||$28m $28m|
|Winners ||$38m $38m|
WC 2018 in Numbers
21 – The 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the 21st edition of the championship which began in Uruguay in 1930.
32 – The number of nations in attendance at Russia for the 2018 World Cup
12 – The number of stadiums across Russia where World Cup matches will be held
11 – The number of host cities of the 2018 World Cup
64 – The number of matches which will be played during the duration of the tournament.
8 – The 32 teams will be divided into eight groups of four for the World Cup group stages
38 – The world champions will take home a purse of USD 38 million
28 – The runners-up will receive a cheque of USD 28 million
400 million – The total amount of prize money on offer at the 2018 World Cup
20 – As many as 20 national teams will be making back-to-back appearances in the World Cup
2 – Two sides, Iceland and Panama, will be making their debut in the world championship
209 – The number of nations that took part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers
28 – Egypt led by Mohamed Salah will be playing their first World Cup in 28 years
36 – Peru will be making their first World Cup appearance after 36 years.
23 – Each country are allowed to register a squad of 23 players
36 – The number of referees who will officiate at the 2018 World Cup
63 – The number of assistant referees who will be employed during the tournament
81,000 – The capacity of the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow which will host the final of the 2018 World Cup
352.5 billion – Russia spend 352.5 billion rubles in preparation for the 2018 World Cup
17,040 – The number of volunteers who will be engaged during the tournament
5 billion – The amount of money in US Dollars that FIFA expects to earn from the World Cup
2.5 million – The approximate number of tickets which went on sale ahead of the World Cup
32 – The number of panels present on the Adidas Telstar 18, the official match ball of 2018 FIFA World Cup
5 – Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup winning five times in its history
8 – The number of nations to have won the World Cup — Uruguay, Italy, Brazil, England, Germany, Argentina, France and Spain
100 things to know about 2018 FIFA World Cup