The 2018 World Cup promises to be one of the most watched events yet thanks to increases in technology which will see the games reach an even larger audience than before. This is quite something considering over 3 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup final.
Who qualified for the 2018 World Cup?
The story of the 2018 World Cup began in March 2015, when the first qualifying match was played between East Timor-Leste and Mongolia for as they fought for a place in the AFC qualifying rounds.
This was the first time in FIFA World Cup history, all member countries of FIFA that were eligible to play, entered into the qualification process. There were 210 teams in total, and it by the time qualification is over, it will have taken over 2 years and 8 months for this process to be completed.
And it isn’t without some notable casualties. The USA failed to qualify for the World Cup in dramatic fashion, much to the dismay of their fans. It’s the first time since 1984 they have failed to qualify for a World Cup. Their streak of seven straight World Cups before this cycle was the seventh-longest in the world after only Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain and South Korea. Sadly for Italy, Buffon has missed out on setting the record for a number of games played at the World Cup Finals due to the team’s failure to qualify for the tournament.
But there will be a total of 32 teams at the World Cup finals – 14 of these are from Europe (Russia included), 5 from Africa, 4 from Asia, 4 from South America, 3 from North America, with an additional 2 spots up for grab via play-offs.
Theme and the Mascot
Every World Cup has a theme of the competition, one that FIFA likes to use to inspire viewers and help leave a legacy that transcends Football. This World Cup theme was inspired by cosmic outer space exploration. This is why FIFA chose to announce the theme via a video link to the International Space Station.
The World Cup finals also have an official mascot too. This year’s Mascot is Zabivaka which means “the one who scores” in Russian. The Mascot is a wolf that has been described by Fifa as radiating “fun, charm and confidence.” It was designed by a Russian student and won 53% of the votes following a poll by FIFA to decide on the official mascot.
Russia and the World Cup 2018
This is actually the first time that Russian, or any country in eastern Europe, has hosted a World Cup Finals. In fact, by giving it to Russia, it makes them the largest ever country by land mass to host a World Cup Finals. The 11 different host cities are spread along the Western side of Russia, but there is still a considerable distance between some of the host cities.
The most eastern host city, Ekaterinburg, and the westernmost host city, Kaliningrad, are an astonishing 1500 miles apart. To show you just how far that is, it’s about the same distance as Moscow to London.
To give you an example of the sheer size of Russian, the previous biggest World Cup hosts were Brazil (8.516 million km sq) and USA (9.834 million km sq). Meanwhile, Russia has a land mass that is 17.1 million km sq. Thankfully, as we said earlier, the host cities are condensed to the western side of Russia!
The size of the host country does give an opportunity for a huge number of people to experience it though. In total, 3million people are expected to watch one of the World Cup fixtures, inc 1 million people visiting Russia as tourists from around world. This also doesn’t include the number of people that could potentially travel to Russia without a ticket or Russian nationals that may visit one of the many fan parks that will be set up.
Winner for the Fans
And if there is one thing that this World Cup is going to be remembered for, it is that Russia has spared no expenses in creating facilities to ensure this World Cup is a winner for the fans. They are creating fan parks in some iconic locations around Russia such as the Sparrow Hills on the bank of the Moscow River and the famous beach promenade in Sochi.
As well as a considerable investment in venues for fan parks, Russia has also invested massively in revamping and building stadiums to host the World Cup fixtures. It is estimated that they have invested a total of $10.1 billion on the 12 stadiums that will be used during the World Cup, within the 11 host cities.
Moscow, with their Spartak stadium, and Luzhniki stadium are the only city to hold two host stadiums. So set the dates in your diary, the action kicks off on 14th June 2018, with the final played on 15th July 2018. It’s set to be one of the most interesting and well watched World Cup’s to date.