20 Things About the 2018 World Cup in Russia

It’s time for football!  The world’s most hotly anticipated football tournament is finally kicking off. All eyes on Russia where 2018 Fifa World Cup are starting today. The opening ceremony will be raised at 18:00pm (Moscow Time) 30 minutes before the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Here are the 20 things you need to know about the biggest football championship on the planet.

  1. This is the 21st FIFA World Cup and first ever to be held in Eastern Europe.
  2. For the first time in the history all eligible nations – the 209 FIFA member associations minus automatically qualified hosts Russia – entered the qualifying process.
  3. Iceland and Panama have qualified for their first ever World Cup.
  4. Brazil is only who played in every World Cup and have won the most titles (5).
  5. Of all current players, Germany’s Thomas Müller has the most goals (10) and assists (6) in the World Cup.
  6. Italy failed to qualify for the first time since 1958 and are the only previous winners not to qualify.
  7. This is the first time a tournament has taken place across two continents – Europe and Asia.
  8. The official mascot is Zabivaka – an anthropomorphic wolf dressed in the colors of the Russian national team. It was unveiled 21 October 2016 after the public vote between three finalists – a cat, a tiger, and a wolf.
  9. The official match ball of the 2018 World Cup is called “Telstar 18” and is based on the name and design of the first Adidas World Cup ball from 1970. 
  10. The 2018 opener will make history because it becomes the first World Cup opener to be played by the two lowest-ranked teams in the competition (Russia 65th, Saudia Arabia 63rd).
  11. The World Cup is expected to cost Russia close to $12 billion and this is still less than Brazil spent four years ago.
  12. Winning the World Cup final means $38 million in prize money. To be fair, losing it means $28 million so, that’s some consolation. Just making the group stage is worth $8 million.
  13. There will be play sixty-four matches of football in just under a month.
  14. Winning the World Cup trophy is one of those unforgettable moments, but when the party is over FIFA takes the real trophy and hands over a cheaper replica.
  15. The tournament poster shows a legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. He played in the 1958 and 1970 World Cups and is still the only keeper to win the Ballon d’Or.
  16. The distance between the easternmost (Kaliningrad) and westernmost (Ekaterinburg) host cities in Russia is about the same as the distance between Moscow and London (2,424 kilometers, 1,500 miles).
  17. Russia (not the USSR) have never made it out of the group stage at a World Cup.
  18. Referees will also have the right to stop or abandon a game if racist or other discriminatory incidents occur.
  19. A deaf cat called Achilles who resides at a St. Petersburg museum is to predict the outcomes of World Cup games, after getting all but one right at the Confederations Cup last year.
  20. The official song of the tournament is “Live It Up” which performs Will Smith, Nicky Jam, and Era Istrefi. Listen to this song and enjoy watching football!

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