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Guide To The 2018 FIFA World Cup RUSSIA™

Russia was awarded the hosting rights to the 2018 FIFA World Cup on December 2, 2010. Russia was selected over bids from England and joint bids from Belgium/the Netherlands and Portugal/Spain. The Russian bid was backed by President Vladimir Putin.

The same day Qatar was named as the host for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Since the announcement, the 2 countries have had to defend their selection with increasing evidence that there was the buying of votes by the countries. Disgraced former FIFA head Sepp Blatter even stated 5 years after the fact that Russia was selected to host the 2018 event even before the vote.

Regardless, the tournament heads to Russia this summer. It is the first World Cup hosted in Eastern Europe.

Russia automatically qualified for the World Cup finals leaving 31 berths for teams from around the globe. Berths were allocated by continental confederations with no changes in the number of teams a confederation sent from 2014.

The confederation and teams that qualified for the 2018 World Cup are:
AFC - Asian Football Confederation (5) – Australia, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea
CAF - Confederation of African Football (5) – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia
CONCACAF - Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) (3) – Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama
CONMEBOL – South American Football Confederation (5) – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay
OFC – Oceania Football Confederation (0)
UEFA – Union of European Football Associations (14) – Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Russia (hosts), Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

For the first time in history, all eligible nations entered the qualifying process.

The excitement leading up to the World Cup got an early start with the unveiling of the official World Cup match ball from adidas on November 9. The Telstar 18 was inspired by the adidas Telstar ball used at the 1970 World Cup. The new ball mimics the black-and-white paneling used on the original.

With much hype and fanfare, the World Cup draw was held at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1, 2017. Former England international Gary Lineker and Russian football journalist Maria Komandnaya were the co-host for the event.

The MC duo was helped with pulling ping pong balls from oversized fish bowls by former players representing the winning nations - Diego Maradona (Argentina), Gordon Banks (England), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Laurent Blanc (France), Cafu (Brazil, Carles Puyol (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay) and Fabio Cannavaro (Italy). Nikita Simonyan representing the host nation Russia.

The draw concluded with 8 groups (Groups A – H) with 4 teams per group. The 2018 World Cup groups are:
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

12 stadiums in 11 cities will be used for the 64 matches of the 2018 World Cup. Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and Krestovsky Stadium (Saint Petersburg Stadium) in Saint Petersburg will each host 7 matches. The opening match and the 2018 World Cup final will be held at Luzhniki Stadium.

Fisht Olympic Stadium (Sochi Stadium) in Sochi, Kazan Arena in Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, and Cosmos Arena (Samara Arena) in Samara will each host 6 matches including a quarterfinal match.

Otkritie Arena (Spartak Stadium) in Moscow and the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don will host 5 matches including a Round of 16 match.

4 group matches but no elimination round games will be played at Volgorod Arena in Volgorod, Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Central Stadium in Yekaterinburg, and Mordovia Arena in Saransk.

Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow
Capacity: 81,000
Completed: Renovations June 2017, Originally completed 1956
Estimated Cost: $400M

14 June 2018 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
17 June 2018 – Germany vs Mexico – Group F
20 June 2018 – Portugal vs Morocco – Group B
26 June 2018 – Denmark vs France – Group C
1 July 2018 – 1B vs 2A – Round of 16
11 July 2018 – W59 vs W60 – Semi Final
15 July 2018 – W61 vs W62 – Final

Luzhniki is one of the most famous venues in Russia although may not ring a bell for American fans. The venue formerly known as the Central Lenin Stadium hosted the U.S. boycotted 1980 Olympics. It has also held major soccer events from the 1999 UEFA Cup final to the 2008 UEFA Champions League final.

Otkritie Arena (Spartak Stadium) in Moscow
Capacity: 45,360
Completed: September 2014
Estimated Cost: $430M

16 June 2018 – Argentina vs Iceland – Group D
19 June 2018 – Poland vs Senegal – Group H
23 June 2018 – Belgium vs Tunisia – Group B
26 June 2018 – Serbia vs Brazil – Group C
3 July 2018 – 1H vs 2G – Round of 16

Spartak Stadium was first conceived in the mid-2000’s as a home for Spartak Moscow well before Russia was announced as the 2018 World Cup hosts. After breaking ground in 2007 it was finally finished 7 years later. The venue will be liked by fans with seating close to the field. A statue of the Thracian gladiator Spartacus stands outside.

Krestovsky Stadium (Saint Petersburg Stadium) in Saint Petersburg
Capacity: 68,287
Completed: April 2017
Estimated Cost: $1.5B

15 June 2018 – Morocco vs Iran – Group B
19 June 2018 – Russia vs Egypt – Group A
22 June 2018 – Brazil vs Costa Rica – Group E
26 June 2018 – Nigeria vs Argentina – Group D
3 July 2018 – 1F vs 2E – Round of 16
10 July 2018 – W57 vs W58 – Semi Final
14 July 2018 – L61 vs L62 – Third Place

Krestovsky Stadium may be best remembered for the delays and excessive cost (rumored to have been 548% over budget) to complete. That is all in the past with the World Cup a chance to rebuild its image. The steep inside stands make for great views and the ‘spaceship’ look on the outside make it memorable even before stepping inside.

Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad
Capacity: 35,212
Completed: December 2017
Estimated Cost: $300M

16 June 2018 – Croatia vs Nigeria – Group D
22 June 2018 – Serbia vs Switzerland – Group E
25 June 2018 – Spain vs Morocco – Group B
28 June 2018 – England vs Belgium – Group G

The new facility in the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania was inspired by the Allianz Arena in Germany.

Kazan Arena in Kazan
Capacity: 45,379
Completed: July 2013
Estimated Cost: $439.7M

16 June 2018 – France vs Australia – Group C
20 June 2018 – Iran vs Spain – Group B
24 June 2018 – Poland vs Colombia – Group H
27 June 2018 – Korea Republic vs Germany – Group F
30 June 2018 – 1C vs 2D – Round of 16
6 July 2018 – W53 vs W54 – Quarter Final

Kazan Arena is one of the most modern in Russia. The venue was completed in 2013 and used for matches at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. It boasts the largest outdoor TV screen in Europe.

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod
Capacity: 44,899
Completed: December 2017
Estimated Cost: $290M

18 June 2018 – Sweden vs Korea Republic – Group F
21 June 2018 – Argentina vs Croatia – Group D
24 June 2018 – England vs Panama – Group G
27 June 2018 – Switzerland vs Costa Rica – Group E
1 July 2018 – 1D vs 2C – Round of 16
6 July 2018 – W49 vs W50 – Quarter Final

This is one of the new stadium for the World Cup and built at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers.

Cosmos Arena (Samara Arena) in Samara
Capacity: 44,918
Completed: 2018
Estimated Cost: $320M

17 June 2018 – Costa Rica vs Serbia – Group E
21 June 2018 – Denmark vs Australia – Group C
25 June 2018 – Uruguay vs Russia – Group A
28 June 2018 – Senegal vs Colombia – Group H
2 July 2018 – 1E vs 2F – Round of 16
7 July 2018 – W55 vs W56 – Quarter Final

A new venue that pays tribute to the Soviet era space program. It has also been hampered by delays and cost overrides.

Volgorod Arena in Volgorod
Capacity: 45,568
Completed: 2018
Estimated Cost: $280M

18 June 2018 – Tunisia vs England – Group G
22 June 2018 – Nigeria vs Iceland – Group D
25 June 2018 – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Group A
28 June 2018 – Japan vs Poland – Group H

Volgorod Stadium was built on the site of the old Central Stadium.

Mordovia Arena in Saransk
Capactiy: 44,442
Completed: 2018
Estimated Cost: $300M

16 June 2018 – Peru vs Denmark – Group C
19 June 2018 – Colombia vs Japan – Group H
25 June 2018 – Iran vs Portugal – Group B
28 June 2018 – Panama vs Tunisia – Group G

Mordovia Arena is located in Saransk, the smallest city selected to host World Cup matches, and was somewhat of a surprise selection.

Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don
Capacity: 45,145
Completed: December 2017
Estimated Cost: $330M

17 June 2018 – Brazil vs Switzerland – Group E
20 June 2018 – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
23 June 2018 – Korea Republic vs Mexico – Group F
26 June 2018 – Iceland vs Croatia – Group D
2 July 2018 – 1G vs 2H – Round of 16

Another new stadium being build for the 2018 World Cup.

Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi
Capacity: 47,659
Completed: December 2013
Estimated Cost: $519M

15 June 2018 – Portugal vs Spain – Group B
18 June 2018 – Belgium vs Panama – Group G
23 June 2018 – Germany vs Sweden – Group F
26 June 2018 – Australia vs Peru – Group C
30 June 2018 – 1A vs 2B – Round of 16
7 July 2018 21:00 – W51 vs W52 – Quarter Final

Fisht (Olympic) Stadium was completed to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. It will become only the second venue, along with Turin’s Stadio Olimpico, to have hosted both events. Matches at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup were held at the venue. The roof had to be removed for the World Cup. It was originally designed and built with as an enclosed stadium.

Ekaterinburg Arena (Central Stadium) in Yekaterinburg
Capacity: 35,696
Completed: Renovations 2017, Originally built in 1957
Estimated Cost: $251M

15 June 2018 – Egypt vs Uruguay – Group A
21 June 2018 – France vs Peru – Group C
24 June 2018 – Japan vs Senegal – Group H
27 June 2018 – Mexico vs Sweden – Group F

Central Stadium will be known as Ekaterinburg Arena during the World Cup. It is the only stadium east of the Ural Mountains. The distance from the other venues will be an additional challenge for the 8 drawn to matches at the venue.

Long distances will also be a challenge for some fans at the venue. To meet FIFA’s 35,000 minimum seating capacity additional seating was added behind the goals which bizarrely push out past the stadiums main façade.

Zabivaka is the official mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia. The soccer playing wolf features a white Russia 2018 t-shirt with blue sleeves. The kit is completed with red shorts and the look topped off with a flashy pair of orange sport glasses. Zabivaka means ‘the one who scores’ in Russian and will be on hand at venues and in promos leading up to the tournament. The mascot has its own facebook page as well.

FIFA and the World Cup have many sponsors. The major FIFA Parteners are adidas, Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Hyundai-Kia, Qatar Airways, Visa, and Wanda Group. The FIFA World Cup Sponsors are Anheuser-Busch inBev, Hisense, McDonald’s, Mengniu Dairy, and Vivo.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Final is on July 15, 2018 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Fox Sports will air the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. The opener and World Cup final along with 36 other matches (all the elimination matches) will air of Fox. The other 26 matches will air on Fox’s cable channel, FS1.

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