The 2018 FIFA World Cup was the 21st FIFA World Cup, an international football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA once every four years. It took place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018. It was the first World Cup to be held in Eastern Europe, and the 11th time that it had been held in Europe. At an estimated cost of over $14.2 billion, it was the most expensive World Cup. It was also the first World Cup to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
The finals involved 32 teams, of which 31 came through qualifying competitions, while the host nation qualified automatically. Of the 32 teams, 20 had also appeared in the previous tournament in 2014, while both Iceland and Panama made their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches were played in 12 venues across 11 cities.
The final took place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, between France and Croatia. France won the match 4–2 to claim their second World Cup title, marking the fourth consecutive title won by a European team.
|2018 FIFA World Cup|
|Чемпионат мира по футболу FIFA 2018|
Chempionat mira po futbolu FIFA 2018
2018 FIFA World Cup official logo
|Dates||14 June – 15 July|
|Teams||32 (from 5 confederations)|
|Venue(s)||12 (in 11 host cities)|
|Champions||France (2nd title)|
|Goals scored||169 (2.64 per match)|
|Attendance||3,031,768 (47,371 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)||Harry Kane (6 goals)|
|Best player||Luka Modrić|
|Best young player||Kylian Mbappé|
|Best goalkeeper||Thibaut Courtois|
|Fair play award||Spain|
The bidding procedure to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments began in January 2009, and national associations had until 2 February 2009 to register their interest. Initially, nine countries placed bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mexico later withdrew from proceedings, and Indonesia's bid was rejected by FIFA in February 2010 after the Indonesian government failed to submit a letter to support the bid. During the bidding process, the three remaining non-UEFA nations (Australia, Japan, and the United States) gradually withdrew from the 2018 bids, and the UEFA nations were thus ruled out of the 2022 bid. As such, there were eventually four bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, two of which were joint bids: England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium, and Portugal/Spain.
The 22-member FIFA Executive Committee convened in Zürich on 2 December 2010 to vote to select the hosts of both tournaments. Russia won the right to be the 2018 host in the second round of voting. The Portugal/Spain bid came second, and that from Belgium/Netherlands third. England, which was bidding to host its second tournament, was eliminated in the first round.
The voting results were as follows:
|Round 1||Round 2|
|Portugal / Spain||7||7|
|Belgium / Netherlands||4||2|
The English Football Association and others raised concerns of bribery on the part of the Russian team and corruption from FIFA members. They claimed that four members of the executive committee had requested bribes to vote for England, and Sepp Blatter had said that it had already been arranged before the vote that Russia would win. The 2014 Garcia Report, an internal investigation led by Michael J. Garcia, was withheld from public release by Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA's head of adjudication on ethical matters. Eckert instead released a shorter revised summary, and his (and therefore FIFA's) reluctance to publish the full report caused Garcia to resign in protest. Because of the controversy, the FA refused to accept Eckert's absolving of Russia from blame, with Greg Dyke calling for a re-examination of the affair and David Bernstein calling for a boycott of the World Cup.
For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, all eligible nations – the 209 FIFA member associations minus automatically qualified hosts Russia – applied to enter the qualifying process. Zimbabwe and Indonesia were later disqualified before playing their first matches, while Gibraltar and Kosovo, who joined FIFA on 13 May 2016 after the qualifying draw but before European qualifying had begun, also entered the competition. Places in the tournament were allocated to continental confederations, with the allocation unchanged from the 2014 World Cup. The first qualification game, between Timor-Leste and Mongolia, began in Dili on 12 March 2015 as part of the AFC's qualification, and the main qualifying draw took place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg, on 25 July 2015.
Of the 32 nations qualified to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 20 countries competed at the previous tournament in 2014. Both Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time, with the former becoming the smallest country in terms of population to reach the World Cup. Other teams returning after absences of at least three tournaments include: Egypt, returning to the finals after their last appearance in 1990; Morocco, who last competed in 1998; Peru, returning after 1982; and Senegal, competing for the second time after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002. It is the first time three Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland and Sweden) and four Arab nations (Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia) have qualified for the World Cup.
Notable countries that failed to qualify include four-time champions Italy (for the first time since 1958), three-time runners-up and third placed in 2014 the Netherlands (for the first time since 2002), and four reigning continental champions: 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon, two-time Copa América champions and 2017 Confederations Cup runners-up Chile, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand, and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup champions United States (for the first time since 1986). The other notable qualifying streaks broken were for Ghana and Ivory Coast, who had both made the previous three tournaments.
For the draw, the teams were allocated to four pots based on the FIFA World Rankings of October 2017. Pot 1 contained the hosts Russia (who were automatically assigned to position A1) and the best seven teams, pot 2 contained the next best eight teams, and so on for pots 3 and 4. This was different from previous draws, when only pot 1 was based on FIFA rankings while the remaining pots were based on geographical considerations. However, teams from the same confederation still were not drawn against each other for the group stage, except that two UEFA teams could be in each group.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
Initially, each team had to name a preliminary squad of 30 players but, in February 2018, this was increased to 35. From the preliminary squad, the team had to name a final squad of 23 players (three of whom must be goalkeepers) by 4 June. Players in the final squad may be replaced for serious injury up to 24 hours prior to kickoff of the team's first match and such replacements do not need to have been named in the preliminary squad.
For players named in the 35-player preliminary squad, there was a mandatory rest period between 21 and 27 May 2018, except for those involved in the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final played on 26 May.
On 29 March 2018, FIFA released the list of 36 referees and 63 assistant referees selected to oversee matches. On 30 April 2018, FIFA released the list of 13 video assistant referees, who solely acted in this capacity in the tournament.
Referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi of Saudi Arabia was removed in 30 May 2018 over a match-fixing attempt, along with his two assistant referees, compatriots Mohammed Al-Abakry and Abdulah Al-Shalwai. A new referee was not appointed, but two assistant referees, Hasan Al Mahri of the United Arab Emirates and Hiroshi Yamauchi of Japan, were added to the list. Assistant referee Marwa Range of Kenya also withdrew after the BBC released an investigation conducted by a Ghanaian journalist which implicated Marwa in a bribery scandal.
|List of officials|
|Confederation||Referee||Assistant referees||Video assistant referees|
|AFC||Alireza Faghani (Iran)||Reza Sokhandan (Iran)
Mohammadreza Mansouri (Iran)
|Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (Qatar)|
|Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)||Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (Uzbekistan)|
Jakhongir Saidov (Uzbekistan)
|Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed (United Arab Emirates)||Mohamed Al Hammadi (United Arab Emirates)|
Hasan Al Mahri (United Arab Emirates)
|Ryuji Sato (Japan)||Toru Sagara (Japan)|
Hiroshi Yamauchi (Japan)
|Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain)||Yaser Tulefat (Bahrain)|
Taleb Al Maari (Qatar)
|CAF||Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria)||Anouar Hmila (Tunisia)|
|Malang Diedhiou (Senegal)||Djibril Camara (Senegal)|
El Hadji Samba (Senegal)
|Bakary Gassama (Gambia)||Jean Claude Birumushahu (Burundi)|
Abdelhak Etchiali (Algeria)
|Gehad Grisha (Egypt)||Redouane Achik (Morocco)|
Waleed Ahmed (Sudan)
|Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)||Jerson Dos Santos (Angola)|
Zakhele Siwela (South Africa)
|Bamlak Tessema Weyesa (Ethiopia)|
|CONCACAF||Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)||Juan Zumba (El Salvador)
Juan Carlos Mora (Costa Rica)
|Mark Geiger (United States)||Frank Anderson (United States)|
Joe Fletcher (Canada)
|Jair Marrufo (United States)||Corey Rockwell (United States)|
|Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)|
|John Pitti (Panama)||Gabriel Victoria (Panama)|
|César Arturo Ramos (Mexico)||Marvin Torrentera (Mexico)|
Miguel Hernández (Mexico)
|CONMEBOL||Julio Bascuñán (Chile)||Carlos Astroza (Chile)
Christian Schiemann (Chile)
|Wilton Sampaio (Brazil)|
Gery Vargas (Bolivia)
Mauro Vigliano (Argentina)
|Enrique Cáceres (Paraguay)||Eduardo Cardozo (Paraguay)|
Juan Zorrilla (Paraguay)
|Andrés Cunha (Uruguay)||Nicolás Tarán (Uruguay)|
Mauricio Espinosa (Uruguay)
|Néstor Pitana (Argentina)||Hernán Maidana (Argentina)|
Juan Pablo Belatti (Argentina)
|Sandro Ricci (Brazil)||Emerson de Carvalho (Brazil)|
Marcelo Van Gasse (Brazil)
|Wilmar Roldán (Colombia)||Alexander Guzmán (Colombia)|
Cristian de la Cruz (Colombia)
|OFC||Matthew Conger (New Zealand)||Simon Lount (New Zealand)
Tevita Makasini (Tonga)
|Norbert Hauata (Tahiti)||Bertrand Brial (New Caledonia)|
|UEFA||Felix Brych (Germany)||Mark Borsch (Germany)
Stefan Lupp (Germany)
|Bastian Dankert (Germany)|
Artur Soares Dias (Portugal)
Paweł Gil (Poland)
Massimiliano Irrati (Italy)
Tiago Martins (Portugal)
Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Paolo Valeri (Italy)
Felix Zwayer (Germany)
|Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)||Bahattin Duran (Turkey)|
Tarık Ongun (Turkey)
|Sergei Karasev (Russia)||Anton Averianov (Russia)|
Tikhon Kalugin (Russia)
|Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)||Sander van Roekel (Netherlands)|
Erwin Zeinstra (Netherlands)
|Szymon Marciniak (Poland)||Paweł Sokolnicki (Poland)|
Tomasz Listkiewicz (Poland)
|Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)||Pau Cebrián Devís (Spain)|
Roberto Díaz Pérez (Spain)
|Milorad Mažić (Serbia)||Milovan Ristić (Serbia)|
Dalibor Đurđević (Serbia)
|Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)||Elenito Di Liberatore (Italy)|
Mauro Tonolini (Italy)
|Damir Skomina (Slovenia)||Jure Praprotnik (Slovenia)|
Robert Vukan (Slovenia)
|Clément Turpin (France)||Cyril Gringore (France)|
Nicolas Danos (France)
Shortly after the International Football Association Board's decision to incorporate video assistant referees (VARs) into the Laws of the Game, on 16 March 2018, the FIFA Council took the much-anticipated step of approving the use of VAR for the first time in a FIFA World Cup tournament.
VAR operations for all games are operating from a single headquarters in Moscow, which receives live video of the games and are in radio contact with the on-field referees. Systems are in place for communicating VAR-related information to broadcasters and visuals on stadiums' large screens are used for the fans in attendance.
VAR had a significant impact in several games. On 15 June 2018, Diego Costa's goal against Portugal became the first World Cup goal based on a VAR decision; the first penalty as a result of a VAR decision was awarded to France in their match against Australia on 16 June and resulted in a goal by Antoine Griezmann. A record number of penalties were awarded in the tournament, with this phenomenon being partially attributed to VAR. Overall, the new technology has been both praised and criticised by commentators. FIFA declared the implementation of VAR a success after the first week of competition.
Russia proposed the following host cities: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl, and Yekaterinburg. Most cities are in European Russia, while Sochi and Yekaterinburg are very close to the Europe-Asia border, to reduce travel time for the teams in the huge country. The bid evaluation report stated: "The Russian bid proposes 13 host cities and 16 stadiums, thus exceeding FIFA's minimum requirement. Three of the 16 stadiums would be renovated, and 13 would be newly constructed."
In October 2011, Russia decreased the number of stadiums from 16 to 14. Construction of the proposed Podolsk stadium in the Moscow region was cancelled by the regional government, and also in the capital, Otkrytiye Arena was competing with Dynamo Stadium over which would be constructed first.
The final choice of host cities was announced on 29 September 2012. The number of cities was further reduced to 11 and number of stadiums to 12 as Krasnodar and Yaroslavl were dropped from the final list. Of the 12 stadiums used for the tournament, 3 (Luzhniki, Yekaterinburg and Sochi) have been extensively renovated and the other 9 stadiums to be used are brand new; $11.8 billion has been spent on hosting the tournament.
Sepp Blatter stated in July 2014 that, given the concerns over the completion of venues in Russia, the number of venues for the tournament may be reduced from 12 to 10. He also said, "We are not going to be in a situation, as is the case of one, two or even three stadiums in South Africa, where it is a problem of what you do with these stadiums".
In October 2014, on their first official visit to Russia, FIFA's inspection committee and its head Chris Unger visited St Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan and both Moscow venues. They were satisfied with the progress.
On 8 October 2015, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee agreed on the official names of the stadiums used during the tournament.
Of the twelve venues used, the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the Saint Petersburg Stadium – the two largest stadiums in Russia – were used most, both hosting seven matches. Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara all hosted six matches, including one quarter-final match each, while the Otkrytiye Stadium in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don hosted five matches, including one round-of-16 match each. Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk all hosted four matches, but did not host any knockout stage games.
A total of twelve stadiums in eleven Russian cities were built and renovated for the FIFA World Cup.
|Luzhniki Stadium||Otkritie Arena
(Saint Petersburg Stadium)
|Fisht Olympic Stadium|
|Capacity: 78,011||Capacity: 44,190||Capacity: 64,468||Capacity: 44,287|
|Volgograd Arena||Rostov Arena|
|Capacity: 43,713||Capacity: 43,472|
|Nizhny Novgorod Stadium||Kazan Arena|
|Capacity: 43,319||Capacity: 42,873|
|Samara Arena||Mordovia Arena||Kaliningrad Stadium||Central Stadium|
|Capacity: 41,970||Capacity: 41,685||Capacity: 33,973||Capacity: 33,061|
Base camps were used by the 32 national squads to stay and train before and during the World Cup tournament. On 9 February 2018, FIFA announced the base camps for each participating team.
The Russian government had originally earmarked a budget of around $20 billion which was later slashed to $10 billion for the preparations of the World Cup, of which half is spent on transport infrastructure. As part of the program for preparation to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a federal sub-program "Construction and Renovation of Transport Infrastructure" was implemented with a total budget of 352.5 billion rubles, with 170.3 billion coming from the federal budget, 35.1 billion from regional budgets, and 147.1 billion from investors. The biggest item of federal spending was the aviation infrastructure (117.8 billion rubles). Construction of new hotels was a crucial area of infrastructure development in the World Cup host cities. Costs continued to balloon as preparations were underway.
Platov International Airport in Rostov-on-Don was upgraded with automated air traffic control systems, modern surveillance, navigation, communication, control, and meteorological support systems. Koltsovo Airport in Yekaterinburg was upgraded with radio-engineering tools for flight operation and received its second runway strip. Saransk Airport received a new navigation system; the city also got two new hotels, Mercure Saransk Centre (Accor Hotels) and Four Points by Sheraton Saransk (Starwood Hotels) as well as few other smaller accommodation facilities. In Samara, new tram lines were laid. Khrabrovo Airport in Kaliningrad was upgraded with radio navigation and weather equipment. Renovation and upgrade of radio-engineering tools for flight operation was completed in the airports of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Volgograd, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Sochi. On 27 March, the Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russia reported that all communications within its area of responsibility have been commissioned. The last facility commissioned was a waste treatment station in Volgograd. In Yekaterinburg, where four matches are hosted, hosting costs increased to over 7.4 billion rubles, over-running the 5.6 billion rubles originally allocated from the state and regional budget.
Volunteer applications to the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee opened on 1 June 2016. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Volunteer Program received about 177,000 applications, and engaged a total of 35,000 volunteers. They received training at 15 Volunteer Centres of the Local Organising Committee based in 15 universities, and in Volunteer Centres in the host cities. Preference, especially in the key areas, was given to those with knowledge of foreign languages and volunteering experience, but not necessarily to Russian nationals.
Free public transport services were offered for ticketholders during the World Cup, including additional trains linking between host cities, as well as services such as bus service within them.
The full schedule was announced by FIFA on 24 July 2015 (without kick-off times, which were confirmed later). On 1 December 2017, following the final draw, six kick-off times were adjusted by FIFA.
Russia was placed in position A1 in the group stage and played in the opening match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 14 June against Saudi Arabia, the two lowest-ranked teams of the tournament at the time of the final draw. The Luzhniki Stadium also hosted the second semi-final on 11 July and the final on 15 July. The Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg hosted the first semi-final on 10 July and the third place play-off on 14 July.
Former Brazilian World Cup-winning striker Ronaldo walked out with a child wearing a Russia 2018 shirt. English pop singer Robbie Williams then performed two songs before he and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina performed a duet while other performers emerged, dressed in the flags of all 32 teams and carrying a sign bearing the name of each nation. Dancers were also present. Ronaldo returned with the official match ball of the 2018 World Cup which was sent into space with the International Space Station crew in March and came back to Earth in early June.
Competing countries were divided into eight groups of four teams (groups A to H). Teams in each group played one another in a round-robin basis, with the top two teams of each group advancing to the knockout stage. Ten European teams and four South American teams progressed to the knockout stage, together with Japan and Mexico.
For the first time since 1938, Germany (reigning champions) did not advance past the first round. For the first time since 1982, no African team progressed to the second round. For the first time, the fair play criteria came into use, when Japan qualified over Senegal due to having received fewer yellow cards. Only one match, France v Denmark, was goalless. Until then there were a record 36 straight games in which at least one goal was scored.
|1||Uruguay||3||3||0||0||5||0||+5||9||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Spain||3||1||2||0||6||5||+1||5||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||France||3||2||1||0||3||1||+2||7||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Croatia||3||3||0||0||7||1||+6||9||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Brazil||3||2||1||0||5||1||+4||7||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Sweden||3||2||0||1||5||2||+3||6||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Belgium||3||3||0||0||9||2||+7||9||Advance to knockout stage|
|1||Colombia||3||2||0||1||5||2||+3||6||Advance to knockout stage|
In the knockout stages, if a match is level at the end of normal playing time, extra time is played (two periods of 15 minutes each) and followed, if necessary, by a penalty shoot-out to determine the winners.
If a match went into extra time, each team was allowed to make a fourth substitution, the first time this had been allowed in a FIFA World Cup tournament.
|Round of 16||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals||Final|
|30 June – Sochi|
|6 July – Nizhny Novgorod|
|30 June – Kazan|
|10 July – Saint Petersburg|
|2 July – Samara|
|6 July – Kazan|
|2 July – Rostov-on-Don|
|15 July – Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|1 July – Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|7 July – Sochi|
|Russia (p)||1 (4)|
|1 July – Nizhny Novgorod|
|Croatia (p)||2 (4)|
|Croatia (p)||1 (3)|
|11 July – Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|3 July – Saint Petersburg|
|England||1||Third place play-off|
|7 July – Samara||14 July – Saint Petersburg|
|3 July – Moscow (Otkritie)|
|England (p)||1 (4)|
There were 169 goals scored in 64 matches, for an average of 2.64 goals per match.
1 own goal
In total, only four players were sent off in the entire tournament, the fewest since 1978. International Football Association Board technical director David Elleray stated a belief that this was due to the introduction of VAR, since players would know that they would not be able to get away with anything under the new system.
A player is automatically suspended for the next match for the following offences:
The following suspensions were served during the tournament:
|Carlos Sánchez||in Group H vs Japan (matchday 1; 19 June)||Group H vs Poland (matchday 2; 24 June)|
|Yussuf Poulsen|| in Group C vs Peru (matchday 1; 16 June)
in Group C vs Australia (matchday 2; 21 June)
|Group C vs France (matchday 3; 26 June)|
|Jérôme Boateng||in Group F vs Sweden (matchday 2; 23 June)||Group F vs South Korea (matchday 3; 27 June)|
|Armando Cooper|| in Group G vs Belgium (matchday 1; 18 June)
in Group G vs England (matchday 2; 24 June)
|Group G vs Tunisia (matchday 3; 28 June)|
|Michael Amir Murillo|| in Group G vs Belgium (matchday 1; 18 June)
in Group G vs England (matchday 2; 24 June)
|Group G vs Tunisia (matchday 3; 28 June)|
|Igor Smolnikov||in Group A vs Uruguay (matchday 3; 25 June)||Round of 16 vs Spain (1 July)|
|Sebastian Larsson|| in Group F vs Germany (matchday 2; 23 June)
in Group F vs Mexico (matchday 3; 27 June)
|Round of 16 vs Switzerland (3 July)|
|Héctor Moreno|| in Group F vs Germany (matchday 1; 17 June)
in Group F vs Sweden (matchday 3; 27 June)
|Round of 16 vs Brazil (2 July)|
|Stephan Lichtsteiner|| in Group E vs Brazil (matchday 1; 17 June)
in Group E vs Costa Rica (matchday 3; 27 June)
|Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July)|
|Fabian Schär|| in Group E vs Brazil (matchday 1; 17 June)
in Group E vs Costa Rica (matchday 3; 27 June)
|Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July)|
|Blaise Matuidi|| in Group C vs Peru (matchday 2; 21 June)
in Round of 16 vs Argentina (30 June)
|Quarter-finals vs Uruguay (6 July)|
|Casemiro|| in Group E vs Switzerland (matchday 1; 17 June)
in Round of 16 vs Mexico (2 July)
|Quarter-finals vs Belgium (6 July)|
|Mikael Lustig|| in Group F vs Mexico (matchday 3; 27 June)
in Round of 16 vs Switzerland (3 July)
|Quarter-finals vs England (7 July)|
|Michael Lang||in Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July)||Suspension served outside tournament|
|Thomas Meunier|| in Group G vs Panama (matchday 1; 18 June)
in Quarter-finals vs Brazil (6 July)
|Semi-finals vs France (10 July)|
The following awards were given at the conclusion of the tournament. The Golden Boot (top scorer), Golden Ball (best overall player) and Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) awards were all sponsored by Adidas.
|Golden Ball||Silver Ball||Bronze Ball|
|Luka Modrić||Eden Hazard||Antoine Griezmann|
|Golden Boot||Silver Boot||Bronze Boot|
| Harry Kane
(6 goals, 0 assists)
| Antoine Griezmann
(4 goals, 2 assists)
| Romelu Lukaku|
(4 goals, 1 assist)
|Best Young Player|
|FIFA Fair Play Award|
|Goal of the Tournament|
|Benjamin Pavard||Argentina||2–2||Round of 16|
|Thibaut Courtois|| Marcelo
| Kevin De Bruyne
| Harry Kane|
FIFA also published an alternate team of the tournament based on player performances evaluated through statistical data.
|Thibaut Courtois|| Andreas Granqvist
| Denis Cheryshev
| Harry Kane|
Prize money amounts were announced in October 2017.
|Position||Amount (million USD)|
|5th–8th place (quarter-finals)||16||64|
|9th–16th place (round of 16)||12||96|
|17th–32nd place (group stage)||8||128|
The tournament logo was unveiled on 28 October 2014 by cosmonauts at the International Space Station and then projected onto Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre during an evening television programme. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that the logo was inspired by "Russia's rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation", and FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated that it reflected the "heart and soul" of the country. For the branding, Portuguese design agency Brandia Central created materials in 2014, with a typeface called Dusha (from душа, Russian for soul) designed by Brandia Central and edited by Adotbelow of DSType Foundry in Portugal.
The official mascot for the tournament was unveiled 21 October 2016, and selected through a design competition among university students. A public vote was used to select from three finalists—a cat, a tiger, and a wolf. The winner, with 53% of approximately 1 million votes, was Zabivaka—an anthropomorphic wolf dressed in the colours of the Russian national team. Zabivaka's name is a portmanteau of the Russian words забияка ("hothead") and забивать ("to score"), and his official backstory states that he is an aspiring football player who is "charming, confident and social".
The general visa policy of Russia did not apply to participants and spectators, who were able to visit Russia without a visa right before and during the competition regardless of their citizenship. Spectators were nonetheless required to register for a "Fan-ID", a special photo identification pass. A Fan-ID was required to enter the country visa-free, while a ticket, Fan-ID and a valid passport were required to enter stadiums for matches. Fan-IDs also granted World Cup attendees free access to public transport services, including buses, and train service between host cities. Fan-ID was administered by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, who could revoke these accreditations at any time to "ensure the defence capability or security of the state or public order".
After the group stage, "Telstar Mechta" was used for the knockout stage. The word mechta (Russian: мечта) means dream or ambition. The difference between Telstar 18 and Mechta is the red details on the design.
Thirty-three footballers who are alleged to be part of the steroid program are listed in the McLaren Report. On 22 December 2017, it was reported that FIFA fired a doctor who had been investigating doping in Russian football. On 22 May 2018 FIFA confirmed that the investigations concerning all Russian players named for the provisional squad of the FIFA World Cup in Russia had been completed, with the result that insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA's medical committee also decided that Russian personnel would not be involved in performing drug testing procedures at the tournament; the action was taken to reassure teams that the samples would remain untampered.
The choice of Russia as host has been challenged. Controversial issues have included the level of racism in Russian football, and discrimination against LGBT people in wider Russian society. Russia's involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has also caused calls for the tournament to be moved, particularly following the annexation of Crimea. In 2014, FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated that "the World Cup has been given and voted to Russia and we are going forward with our work".
Allegations of corruption in the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups caused threats from England's FA to boycott the tournament. FIFA appointed Michael J. Garcia, a US attorney, to investigate and produce a report on the corruption allegations. Although the report was never published, FIFA released a 42-page summary of its findings as determined by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. Eckert's summary cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing, but was denounced by critics as a whitewash. Garcia criticised the summary as being "materially incomplete" with "erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions", and appealed to FIFA's Appeal Committee. The committee declined to hear his appeal, so Garcia resigned in protest of FIFA's conduct, citing a "lack of leadership" and lack of confidence in the independence of Eckert.
On 3 June 2015, the FBI confirmed that the federal authorities were investigating the bidding and awarding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. In an interview published on 7 June 2015, Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA's Audit And Compliance Committee, stated that "should there be evidence that the awards to Qatar and Russia came only because of bought votes, then the awards could be cancelled". Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and former British Prime Minister David Cameron attended a meeting with FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon in which a vote-trading deal for the right to host the 2018 World Cup in England was discussed.
In response to the March 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that no British ministers or members of the royal family would attend the World Cup, and issued a warning to any travelling England fans. Iceland diplomatically boycotted the World Cup. Russia responded to the comments from the UK Parliament claiming that "the west are trying to deny Russia the World Cup". The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced Boris Johnson's statements that compared the event to the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany as "poisoned with venom of hate, unprofessionalism and boorishness" and "unacceptable and unworthy" parallel towards Russia, a "nation that lost millions of lives in fighting Nazism".
The British Foreign Office and MPs had repeatedly warned English football fans and "people of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent" travelling to Russia of "racist or homophobic intimidation, hooligan violence and anti-British hostility". English football fans who have travelled have said they have received a warm welcome from ordinary citizens after arriving in Russia.
At the close of the World Cup Russia was widely praised for its success in hosting the tournament, with Steve Rosenberg of the BBC deeming it "a resounding public relations success" for Putin, adding, "The stunning new stadiums, free train travel to venues and the absence of crowd violence has impressed visiting supporters. Russia has come across as friendly and hospitable: a stark contrast with the country's authoritarian image. All the foreign fans I have spoken to are pleasantly surprised."
FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated, "Everyone discovered a beautiful country, a welcoming country, that is keen to show the world that everything that has been said before might not be true. A lot of preconceived ideas have been changed because people have seen the true nature of Russia." Infantino has proclaimed Russia 2018 to be "the best World Cup ever", as 98% of the stadiums were sold out, there were three billion viewers on TV all around the world and 7 million fans visited the fan fests.
FIFA, through several companies, sold the broadcasting rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to various local broadcasters.
In the United States, the 2018 World Cup was the first men's World Cup whose English rights were held by Fox Sports, and Spanish rights held by Telemundo. The elimination of the US national team in qualifying led to concerns that US interest and viewership of this World Cup would be reduced (especially among "casual" viewers interested in the US team), especially noting how much Fox paid for the rights, and that US games at the 2014 World Cup peaked at 16.5 million viewers. During a launch event prior to the elimination, Fox stated that it had planned to place a secondary focus on the Mexican team in its coverage to take advantage of their popularity among US viewers (factoring Hispanic and Latino Americans). Fox stated that it was still committed to broadcasting a significant amount of coverage for the tournament.
In February 2018, Ukrainian rightsholder UA:PBC stated that it would not broadcast the World Cup. This came in the wake of growing boycotts of the tournament among the Football Federation of Ukraine and sports minister Ihor Zhdanov. Additionally, the Football Federation of Ukraine refused to accredit journalists for the World Cup and waived their quota of tickets. However, the Ukrainian state TV still broadcast the World Cup, and more than 4 million Ukrainians watched the opening match.
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