From Rio to Kolkata, and Cairo to London, a soccer fever is ready to strike. The outbreak that happens every four years - the FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony – for 2018, will be held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the tournament’s opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Football, also known as soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The first official international football match was played in 1872 in Glasgow between Scotland and England.
The first official international match outside the British Isles was played between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo in July 1902. As football began to increase in popularity, it was contested as an Olympic sport in 1900, 1904, and at the 1906 Intercalated Games. It became an official FIFA-supervised Olympic competition in the Summer Olympics of 1908.
FIFA was founded in Paris on 22 May, 1904 – comprising football associations from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, with Germany pledging to join. By 1900, football had gained ground all around the world and national football associations were being founded. The FIFA World Cup was first held in 1930, when FIFA President Jules Rimet decided to stage an international football tournament.
The FIFA World Cup, popularly called the World Cup, is an international association football competition, hosted by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, when the Second World War was going on. Since then, the World Cup has experienced successive expansions and format remodeling to its current 32-team final tournament preceded by a two-year qualifying process, involving over 200 teams from around the world.
The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was estimated to be 3.2 billion, with an estimated 280 million people watching the final match: a ninth of the entire population of the planet.
The 21st FIFA World Cup is being held in Russia from 14th June to 15th July 2018. This is the 11th World Cup held in Europe, and the first since the 2006 tournament in Germany. It is the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. Budgeted at US$11.8-14 billion, it is expected to be the most expensive football championship in history.
Germany, which won its fourth title at the 2014 tournament in Brazil, currently holds the championship. The 20 World Cup tournaments so far have been won by eight national teams. Brazil has won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany and Italy, with four titles each; Argentina and inaugural winner Uruguay, with two titles each; and England, France and Spain, with one title each.
Teams and supporters are touching down across Russia as anticipation and excitement grows across the world of football. FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared Russia "100 per cent ready" to host the tournament and predicted that supporters visiting the country will leave with their hearts warmed and their perceptions altered.
"The World Cup has this unique faculty of being able to change the perception people have about a place, about a country. People will see Russia as a different country: as a country that is welcoming the world, as a country that is festive, that wants to celebrate, that wants to be open," he stated.
“We very much expect - all fans and lovers of football in Russia - the team to play with dignity, for them to show modern, interesting football, and to fight until the end,” said President Vladimir Putin of the national team.
Our assessment is that the World Cup is a unifying force that transcends boundaries and cultures. Sports have sometimes played a hand in international affairs. The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which have been called the “Peace Olympics” serves as an example of this - credited with enabling dialogue between North and South Korea. We believe that international sporting events such as the 2018 FIFA World Cup help bring people together.