The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia in exactly 19 days’ time and these are the 20 key numbers you need to know about Russia 2018.
Russia 2018 will see 32 teams battle it out for World Cup glory. It could be the last World Cup under the 32-team format, with discussions to extend the tournament to 48 teams for Qatar 2022.
There will be a total of 64 games played at the World Cup. Russia and Saudi Arabia will kick things off in the opening match on June 14 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, with the tournament culminating in the final at the same venue on July 15.
World Cup games will be played in 11 host cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Saransk, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, and Kaliningrad.
There will be 12 stadiums used at this summer’s World Cup, with Moscow the only host city to have two venues that will feature matches: Luzhniki Stadium and Spartak Stadium.
The distance from the westernmost World Cup venue, in the exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, to Ekaterinburg, which is the farthest venue to the east, is more than 3,000km – and is three time zones away.
The estimated cost to Russia of hosting the tournament has been set at around $12 billion. However, Russia will see a significant return on its investment in terms of a boost to the economy and increased tourism.
More than 1 million fans are expected to visit Russia for the World Cup.The largest number of foreign fans will be from the US, with more than 80,000 tickets purchased, even though the nation has not qualified [many US purchases can be explained by the Latin American contingent in the country].
As well as the many fans flocking to Russia, millions more will be watching from home. An expected 1 billion people will tune in to watch the final on July 15.
Organizers will spend a reported $43 million on providing free train travel between host cities for fans.
There will be seven nations at Russia 2018 that have previously won the World Cup. Defending champions Germany will be aiming to equal Brazil’s record of five wins. Other nations in Russia which have won football’s biggest prize are Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), Spain (1) and France (1). Notably, four-time winners Italy did not qualify – the first time in 60 years that they will miss a World Cup.
There will be two nations making their World Cup finals debut at Russia 2018: Iceland and Panama.
With a population of just 330,000, Iceland will become the smallest nation ever to play at the World Cup finals. Brazil’s population of 209 million is the highest of the nations at the tournament – and is 627 times higher than Iceland’s.
Five-times winners Brazil will be making their 21st appearance at a World Cup finals. They are the only nation to have played at each tournament, dating back to the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930.
In 30 percent (6/20) of previous World Cups, the hosts have won the tournament. Russia are yet to get out of the group stage, having appeared at three World Cups since the break-up of the Soviet Union: 1994, 2002, and 2014.
Germany are currently the favorites to claim glory in Russia, with many bookmakers backing them at around 9/2 to win the title, followed by Brazil (5/1), France (11/2), Spain (7/1) and Argentina (8/1).
Russia will be the first time that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has been used at the World Cup. It will allow officials to review decisions in four cases: goals; penalty decisions; red cards (not including second yellow cards); and mistaken identity in awarding red or yellow cards.
It will be the first time in 80 years that a British referee has not taken part at a World Cup finals, after FIFA failed to include any UK refs in its team of 36 officials for the tournament.
Egyptian goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary could become the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup. The 45-year-old stopper could beat the record set by Colombian ‘keeper Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 when he played at Brazil 2014.
The capacity of Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the opening game on June 14 and final on July 15, is 80,000. It will also host five other games at Russia 2018, including one semi-final.
The famous World Cup trophy that all the teams will want to get their hands on stands 36.8 centimetres high and weighs 6.1 kilograms. It is made of 18 carat gold and has a malachite base.
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