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The Fifa World Cup 2018 will take place between June 14th - July 15th in Russia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany; all but one of the stadium venues are in European Russia, west of the Ural Mountains to keep travel time manageable.
The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
World Cup 2018 guide | bets, odds & information
Stanislav Cherchesov became Russia's manager after disappointing performances at Euro 2016 and the former goalkeeper has changed a lot, mainly in defence where he has brought in the youngsters Viktor Vasin (CSKA), Fedor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan) and Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow) to replace Sergei Ignashevich and Vasily Berezutski. He also plays three at the back instead of four. The biggest talking point has been the exclusion of Igor Denisov, who is arguably the best defensive midfielder but fell out with Cherchesov at Dynamo Moscow. Russia’s attack is impressive. Alan Dzagoev is still going strong and the strikers Fyodor Smolov and Aleksandr Kokorin scored a lot of goals in 2017. Special attention should be paid to the twins Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk from Lokomotiv Moscow and Aleksandr Golovin from CSKA. They are young technical midfielders who could have their breakthroughs at the World Cup. There are a lot of people betting on Russia to do well at this tournament. They're not stupid!
How they qualified Hosts Preferred system 3-5-2 Star player Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow) One to watch Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow) Manager Stanislav Cherchesov Odds 40-1
Saudi Arabia may be the lowest-ranked qualifiers but there is never a dull moment when the Green Falcons are around. Few managers last more than a year in the hottest of hot seats but Bert van Marwijk was in charge for two and led the team to a first World Cup since 2006. It was not always pretty but the side took maximum points from the weakest teams and did enough against Japan and Australia to squeeze into the second automatic spot. Days later Van Marwijk was heading home after a disagreement with the Saudi FA, replaced by Edgardo Bauza. The Argentinian lasted two months and five friendlies before getting the boot. Three days before the draw in Moscow, Juan Antonio Pizzi – who led Chile to the 2016 Copa América but could not take them to Russia – was appointed. His squad has some talent but lack international experience.
How they qualified Second in Asian Group B (round three) behind Japan Preferred system 4-3-3 (in qualification though new coach may change) Star Player Nawaf Al Abed (Al-Hilal) One to watch Fahad Al-Muwallad (Al-Ittihad) Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi Odds 1,000-1
Happy to sit back and defend, Egypt are difficult to break down. Only once (in 30 games) have the Pharaohs conceded more than one goal under Hector Cúper. But despite taking Egypt to the Afcon final and a 63% win rate, the Argentinian has been criticised for his defensive style. Egypt’s squad are a mixture of youth and experience, with the goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary set to become the oldest player at a World Cup at 45. In front of him Egypt have the solid defensive partnership of Rami Rabia and West Brom’s Ahmed Hegazi. The midfield is built around Mohamed Elneny and Al Ahly’s Abdallah Said, who at 32 will bring a creative spark. Egypt hope Mohamed Salah’s fine form continues and on the other wing can choose from Ramadan Sobhi, Kahraba and Mahmoud Hassan “Trézéguet”, one to watch for his direct runs into the box.
How they qualified Winners of African Group E (round three) ahead of Uganda Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) One to watch Mahmoud Hassan “Trézéguet” (Kasımpaşa, on loan from Anderlecht) Manager Héctor Cúper Odds 250-1
Óscar Tabárez’s team went through qualifying with unusual serenity. After four consecutive World Cup play-offs they finished second behind Brazil to qualify in style. Now, though, he has a big decision to make: will he continue to rely on the attacking approach that has served him so well or make changes? The answer seems to lie in the changing of the guard in midfield. Federico Valverde (Real Madrid, on loan at Deportivo La Coruña), Matías Vecino, (Internazionale), Nahitan Nández (Boca Juniors) and Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus) are young and attack-minded players who have earned a place in the team, leading to this increased focus on attack. However, the November friendlies ended with a 0-0 draw against Poland and a 2-1 defeat against Austria, so expect some tinkering before the World Cup.
How they qualified Second in the South American section behind Brazil Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Luis Suárez (Barcelona) One to watch Federico Valverde (Deportivo La Coruña, on loan from Real Madrid) Manager Óscar Tabárez Odds 40-1
Luis Suárez is set to form a formidable striking partnership with Edinson Cavani in Russia.
“Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany and France are the favourites to win the World Cup,” says the Portugal coach, Fernando Santos, before adding: “Then we have other candidates, who want to get as far as possible, and win the tournament if possible, and Portugal are in this second group.” Santos is cautious, despite winning Euro 2016 but he is looking forward to the World Cup with optimism and does so with good reason: Portugal seem stronger now than a year and a half ago, having added creativity to the defensive organisation that underpinned the 2016 title. Bernardo Silva and André Silva have been important factors in this attacking upgrade and in general the team have more depth. The one area which is perhaps weaker is the defence, where it has been hard to find replacements for Pepe (who will be 35 next summer), José Fonte (34) and Bruno Alves (36).
How they qualified Winners of European Group B ahead of Switzerland Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) One to watch Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) Manager Fernando Santos Odds 20-1
Portugal are arguably a stronger side now than the team who won Euro 2016.
La Roja are still La Roja and crashing out at the group stage in Brazil 2014 and the disappointment of France 2016 were not at all cathartic in the end. At the age of 51, and without much experience as a coach at elite level, Julen Lopetegui has managed to conserve the essence of what made Spain so successful. The backbone of the team who qualified brilliantly for Russia 2018 are the same as those who failed in France a year and a half ago. Eight of the team who lost against Italy in Paris would start in Russia if the World Cup started now: David De Gea, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, David Silva and Álvaro Morata. In addition, the wonderful Isco has found his feet with the senior squad, as have several of the under-21s who won the Euros with Spain and Lopetegui in 2013.
How they qualified Winners of European Group G ahead of Italy Preferred system 4-5-1 Star player David Silva (Manchester City) One to watch Isco (Real Madrid) Manager Julen Lopetegui Odds 15-2
The Atlas Lions are roaring again. Twenty years after a heartbreaking elimination from the group stage at France ’98, the first African team to reach the last 16 are back at the World Cup. Morocco, the only African team to qualify for Russia without conceding a goal, have built their game on solid defence and hard work. The experience of Karim El Ahmadi, M’barek Boussoufa and Juventus’s Mehdi Benatia fits well with the intelligence of Hakim Ziyech and the strength of Nordin Amrabat. Hervé Renard is in charge but the advice coming from one of his assistants, Patrice Beaumelle, is vital. The former Coventry City midfielder Mustapha Hadji is also key in the setup, sharing his experiences and acting as a role model for this generation. The team’s main weakness used to be on the left but Real Madrid’s Achraf Hakimi has filled the gap admirably since September.
How they qualified Winners African Group C (round three) ahead of Ivory Coast Preferred system 4-5-1 Star player Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) One to watch Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) Manager Hervé Renard Odds 250-1
Team Melli are playing in a second successive World Cup for the first time. Carlos Queiroz’s men were the first Asian side to qualify for this tournament and did so with 12 consecutive clean sheets. The main aspect of Queiroz’s tactics is “reactive football” with a deep-lying defence and quick counterattacks. However, in recent friendlies against Russia, Panama and Venezuela, Iran played with a different tactic, pressing higher up the pitch and adopting a more aggressive approach. Queiroz, despite a temper and petulance that has caused many seemingly pointless controversies in recent years, is very popular in Iran because of the results and performances. Many believe he has given a real character to the national team. Iran have many Europe-based players this season and Queiroz tends to select those who play outside their homeland.
How they qualified Winners of Asian Group A (round three) ahead of South Korea Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan) One to watchSaman Ghoddos (Ostersund) Manager Carlos Queiroz Odds 1000-1
“We are not at the same level as Germany, Spain and Brazil – yet,” says Didier Deschamps. “We may not control all our games with the same authority but still, we have a strong and competitive team with a great potential.” France blew hot and cold in qualifying, winning their group despite losing to Sweden and drawing against Belarus and Luxembourg. Deschamps has a thrilling and explosive attack of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé (if fit). There is a strong midfield built around Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté, lots of technical ability all around with such as Thomas Lemar and a sound defensive axis. Still, France appear more effective when playing on the break and using their speed. The weakest link? The left-back position if Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy does not recover from his knee injury.
How they qualified Winners of European Group A ahead of Sweden Preferred system 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 Star player Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) One to watch Kylian Mbappé (Paris St-Germain) Manager Didier Deschamps Odds 11-2
Antoine Griezmann wheels away after scoring against Wales during a friendly in November.
The 31st team to qualify worked harder than anyone else, with around 250,000km travelled and trips to far-flung destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and Honduras. The Socceroos’ place in Russia is secure but the identity of the manager who will lead them there remains a mystery after Ange Postecoglou quit following the play-off win over Honduras in November. As such, Australia present something of a challenge for opponents scouting them, and uncertainty hangs over whether Postecoglou’s preferred – and controversial – 3-2-4-1 will be retained, as well as over the names that will fill those starting slots. There is still an over-reliance on Tim Cahill – who will be 38 this month – for goals but with Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo, there is talent elsewhere; how to get the best out of them and their team-mates will depend on who takes the job.
How they qualified Third in Asian Group B (round three) behind Japan and Saudi Arabia, then play-off wins against Syria and Honduras Preferred system 3-4-1-2 (but that may change when the new manager is appointed) Star player Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town) One to watch Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin) Managernone Odds 300-1
Peru are back at the World Cup after 36 years, having gone back to their roots. Ricardo Gareca has brought in new, young players and reintroduced a style that had been lost for some time. Short passes and possession are part of the football DNA of Peru again – with excellent results. They are a young side who have responded to tougher discipline with increased commitment. The spine is made up of a very confident goalkeeper in Pedro Gallese; the skilful leader Alberto Rodríguez in defence; the physical and intelligent Yoshimar Yotún, who runs the midfield; and Jefferson Farfán and Paolo Guerrero up front. The wing-backs Aldo Corzo and Miguel Trauco are tactically astute and important. For a bit of inspiration to unlock opposing defences, there is the talented Christian Cueva.
How they qualified Fifth in South American section, then play-off win over New Zealand Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Jefferson Farfán (Lokomotiv Moscow) One to watch Christian Cueva (São Paulo) Manager Ricardo Gareca Odds150-1
Not only did a World Cup qualifying campaign end successfully for the first time since 2009 but the public fell back in love with the team. Denmark crushed Poland 4-0 and the Republic of Ireland 5-1 in the space of two months in the autumn, with Christian Eriksen reaching a Michael Laudrup-level of play, scoring 11 goals in 12 matches. “The World Cup deserves a star like him,” says the coach, Age Hareide. “We will be a danger to all teams because of him.” Denmark will continue with the direct style of play that Hareide turned to in the autumn, an approach that suited the box-to-box midfielder Thomas Delaney, who was the second-highest scorer for Denmark in qualifying. Up front Nicolai Jorgensen, Andreas Cornelius and Nicklas Bendtner fight for one place, while in central defence Brentford’s Andreas Bjelland and the captain Simon Kjær are picked ahead of Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen.
How they qualified Second in European Group E behind Poland, then play-off win against Republic of Ireland Preferred system 4-3-3 Star player Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) One to watch Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen) ManagerAge Hareide Odds 80-1
Argentina made it in the end and it will be a farewell party for a lot of senior players. Sergio Romero, Ángel Di María, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Lucas Biglia and Éver Banega, among others, are almost certainly about to play in their final tournament. For Lionel Messi – the captain and main reason they reached Russia – it is also pretty much a case of now or never. With that in mind, Jorge Sampaoli is likely to go on the attack in his attempt to secure Argentina’s first World Cup since 1986. The team were unreliable in qualifying and it is up to Sampaoli to make them stronger in defence. Gabriel Mercado, Javier Mascherano and Nicolás Otamendi are likely to occupy the spots in the back three, with Biglia and Enzo Pérez expected to take the central midfield places.
How they qualified Third in South American section behind Brazil and Uruguay Preferred system 3-4-3 Star player Lionel Messi (Barcelona) One to watch Paulo Dybala (Juventus) Manager Jorge Sampaoli Odds 8-1
Will supporters from the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup be able to support their team in Russia in the way they did in France? Almost 10% of the nation travelled to Euro 2016 and there could be similar levels next summer but Moscow and Saint Petersburg are obviously easier to reach than Ekaterinburg and Volgograd. Iceland had to overcome a series of problems to qualify: the loss of their main striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson to injury, Lars Lagerback’s departure and a draw that placed them with three teams who reached Euro 2016. However, they won their group and Heimir Hallgrimsson, who is now in sole charge, has shown more tactical flexibility than Lagerback did. Iceland still mainly play 4-4-2 but Hallgrimsson changes this to a 4-5-1 in certain games, to good effect. Apart from Sigthorsson, everybody from the starting lineup in France is expected to be in Russia.
How they qualified Winners of European Group I ahead of Croatia Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) One to watch Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson (Bristol City) Manager Heimir Hallgrimsson
a’s results became progressively worse during the qualifiers before, as usual, the manager was fired. The new man in charge, Zlatko Dalic, was appointed two days before the final – and decisive – group game but it was enough for a triumph of improvisation in Kiev, and then Croatia disposed of Greece with authority in the play-offs. Luka Modric is 32 and most of the other likely starters will be 29 or older – and the tournament may well be the last realistic shot at something big for this extraordinary generation, the best Croatia has had since the 1998 bronze-winning team. But the perennial dark horses have been caught in a web of internal divides involving key national federation men, the fans, the media and politics, decimating their support at home and making it difficult for them to focus.
How they qualified Second in European Group I behind Iceland, then play-off win against Greece Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Luka Modric (Real Madrid) One to watch Nikola Vlasic (Everton) Manager Zlatko Dalic Odds 25-1
Croatia’s form got progressively worse during the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Placed in a group with Algeria, Cameroon and the 2012 African champions Zambia, the Super Eagles qualified with a game to spare. The comeback victory over Argentina in a recent friendly in Russia further fed optimism regarding what the team can achieve under Gernot Rohr. The German manager has radically improved the side, infusing the freshness of youth into a team who failed to qualify for two consecutive Africa Cup of Nations tournaments before his appointment. Since he took over last year, the former Bordeaux manager has lost one game and knitted together a ruthless counterattacking side who feature the outstanding Alex Iwobi and with Chelsea’s wing-back Victor Moses playing as a dynamic, talismanic winger. The team are based on a sturdy defence, with energetic ball-winners at the base of midfield and the calming presence of Mikel John Obi to funnel balls to the attack.
How they qualified Winners of African Group B (round three) ahead of Zambia Preferred system 4-3-3 Star player Victor Moses (Chelsea) One to watch Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) Manager Gernot Rohr Odds 150-1
Tite has not had 20 games in charge but Brazil’s transformation from a rudderless wreck to World Cup contenders has been astonishing. Tite has implemented a 4-1-4-1 and carefully navigated the lack of club playing time for some of his players. He has accommodated Neymar on the left, Casemiro in front of the backline, Gabriel Jesus in the centre of attack and has got the best from the full-backs Dani Alves and Marcelo. Renato Augusto is another performing at his peak, and Paulinho, one of Tite’s favourite players, has managed the transformation from the Chinese league to Barcelona remarkably well. The process has risks attached to it, too. Apart from the regulars in the starting XI there is not much depth – Willian and Roberto Firmino aside, Tite does not seem to have faith in many other players.
How they qualified Winners of the South American section ahead of Uruguay Preferred system 4-1-4-1 Star player Neymar (Paris St-Germain) One to watch Paulinho (Barcelona) Manager Tite Odds 5-1
Brazil line up to face England at Wembley in November.
People in Switzerland expect their team to reach major finals these days so there was no euphoria when the place in Russia was booked. The expectation is for Vladimir Petkovic’s squad to reach at least the last 16. “My team has a got an excellent team spirit and have a tremendous will to succeed,” says Petkovic. Granit Xhaka is at the heart, dictating the pace of the game. With creative and quick players such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Steven Zuber, Switzerland are always capable of creating something on the flanks, especially as the wingers have strong full-backs behind them in Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner, right, and Milan’s Ricardo Rodríguez, left. With Fabian Schär and young Manuel Akanji there is also a solid central defence to lean on. The weakest part of the team is the centre-forward position, which is almost always occupied by Haris Seferović.
How they qualified Second in European Group B behind Portugal, then play-off win against Northern Ireland Preferred system 4-5-1 Star player Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) One to watch Denis Zakaria (Borussia Mönchengladbach) ManagerVladimir Petkovic Odds 66-1
Costa Rica were a sensation four years ago, reaching the World Cup quarter-finals, and face the challenge of emulating that. The coach then, Jorge Luis Pinto, has been replaced by Óscar Ramírez and his team showed in qualifying they are the Concacaf team to beat, qualifying with two games to spare. Ramírez has continued to deploy the 5-4-1 that served Pinto so well. It asks a lot of Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges; Ruiz is the main reference in attack and Borges gives balance in midfield. Keylor Navas is the star, with Marco Ureña, who plays for San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS, adding pace to the attack. Costa Rica may struggle to repeat a place in the last eight but they have the quality to reach the knockout phase.
How they qualified Second in Concacaf round five behind Mexico Preferred system 5-4-1 Star player Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) One to watch Marco Ureña (San Jose Earthquakes) Manager Óscar Ramírez Odds 400-1
Serbia qualified for their first major tournament for seven years in comprehensive fashion. With only one defeat in 10 matches, they pipped the Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales and Republic of Ireland to first place in their group, but that was not enough for Slavoljub Muslin to keep his job. The 64-year-old’s conflict with the president of the Serbian FA, Slavisa Kokeza, over the style of play and squad selection – with the star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at the epicentre – resulted in Muslin being fired. Mladen Krstajic took over as caretaker and immediately brought Milinkovic-Savic into the team for the November friendlies. The Lazio man repaid the faith with superb performances and an assist, sending a message that he could be trusted to lead a star-studded but ageing Serbia side.
How they qualified Winners of Euopean Group D ahead of Republic of IrelandPreferred system 3-4-3 Star player Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) One to Watch Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) Manager Mladen Krstajic (caretaker)
After Germany lost to France in the Euro 2016 semi-final plenty predicted the Joachim Löw era was slowly coming to an end. However, the team bounced back impressively and qualified for the World Cup with a perfect 10 wins out of 10 while scoring a joint European-record 43 goals. Die Mannschaft have not lost since that defeat against France and, rather frighteningly for their rivals, won the Confederations Cup in the summer without all of these missing players: Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller, Mario Götze, Ilkay Gündogan, Marco Reus, Sami Khedira and Leroy Sané. New players (such as Timo Werner, Lars Stindl and – above all – Leon Goretzka) have staked their claim, meaning competition for places in the World Cup squad will be immense. Goretzka’s impressive displays for Schalke should see Löw pick him ahead of Khedira in central midfield.
How they qualified Winners of European Group C ahead of Northern Ireland Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) One to watch Leon Goretzka (Schalke) Manager Joachim Löw Odds 5-1
The team had no problem reaching the World Cup but Juan Carlos Osorio is still being questioned, because in more demanding fixtures, such as against Chile in the Copa América Centenario and Germany in the Confederations Cup, El Trilooked lost, being beaten 7-0 and 4-1 respectively. However, some of the players are in their prime. Guillermo Ochoa, Andrés Guardado, Héctor Moreno, Héctor Herrera and Javier Hernández have at least five years of experience in Europe and this could be the difference for Mexico to finally make it to a fifth game at the World Cup. Osorio’s system has been changing of late. When the Colombian took over he always used a 4-3-3 but in two recent friendlies he played with two midfield enforcers, something he may repeat (along with a five-man defence) in Russia.
How they qualified Winners of Concacaf round five ahead of Costa Rica and Panama Preferred system 4-3-3 Star player Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (West Ham United) One to watch Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (PSV Eindhoven) ManagerJuan Carlos Osorio Odds 66-1
Euro 2016 saw the end of the Zlatan Ibrahimovic era as well as that of the manager Erik Hamren. The new Sweden team, under Janne Andersson, are extremely hardworking and disciplined. The 4-4-2 and tactics are reminiscent of the successful period from Lars Lagerback’s days in the early 2000s – but with players from more anonymous clubs. The stars of the Lagerback-era played for teams such as Arsenal, Juventus and Barcelona – today they represent clubs in Denmark, Greece, Russia, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (apart from Emil Forsberg at RB Leipzig and Victor Lindelof at Manchester United). The play-off win against Italy was deserved and the big talking point now is whether Ibrahimovic will come out of international retirement for the World Cup. If so, will he fit in the collective Andersson has created?
How they qualified Second in European Group A behind France, then play-off win against Italy Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig) One to watch Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar) Manager Janne Andersson Odds 80-1
Emil Forsberg has starred for club and country throughout 2017, including against Italy in the play-offs to reach Russia.
They struggled throughout the qualifiers through being anemic in attack and defence and narrowly qualified after a poor run which resulted in the firing of Uli Stielike. Shin Tae-yong, who was the manager of the under-23s and under-20s, is not a master tactician but he is a good motivator. Only a few people in South Korea have high expectations and, surprisingly, most fans are waiting for the return of the former coach Guus Hiddink. With a team lacking world-class talent, the manager has to depend on two standout players: Son Heung-min from Tottenham Hotspur and Ki Sung-yueng from Swansea City. Shin often plays a 4-4-2 but seems obsessed with a fluid back-three system so it is not clear how South Korea will play.
How they qualified Second in Asian Group A behind Iran (round three) Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) One to watch Kwon Chang-hoon (Dijon) Manager Shin Tae-yong Odds 500-1
Belgium broke all sorts of records in qualifying: they were unbeaten, they got 28 points from 10 games, they scored 43 goals and Romelu Lukaku became the country’s record goalscorer. However, the last two friendlies, and especially the 3-3 draw against Mexico, have left fans, pundits and players worried. True, Belgium were without Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Vincent Kompany against Mexico but the replacements could not fill the void. Kevin De Bruyne, for one, did not hold back. “Mexico were just better tactically,” he said. “Their system made our five defenders sit deep and we were up against it in midfield – it was five against seven. If we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties against countries like Mexico. It’s a pity that we have not found a solution yet.” The main problem is that, after two years with Roberto Martínez, there is still no real defensive organisation.
How they qualified Winners of European Group H ahead of Greece Preferred system 3-4-2-1 Star player Eden Hazard (Chelsea) One to watch Thomas Meunier (Paris St-Germain) Manager Roberto Martínez Odds 12-1
“We’ll go to the World Cup to learn and compete. It’s an experience to enjoy,” said Hernán Darío Gómez, and he should know: the Colombian has led four teams at World Cup finals. His experience has been crucial in turning a mature squad who had performed well at age-group levels into the country’s first qualification. That feat owed much to the defensive colossus Román Torres, who scored the goal that took them to Russia, and the midfielder Gabriel Gómez, the brains of the operation. It is a team built on solidity, discipline and hitting on the break. Alberto Quintero’s creativity is the key source of chances for Gabriel Torres and Blas Pérez, the most-used forward pairing. Fidel Escobar, Michael Murillo (both of New York Red Bulls) and Deportivo La Coruña’s Ismael Díaz add youthful endeavour.
How they qualified Third in Concacaf round five behind Mexico and Costa Rica Preferred system 4-4-2 Star player Gabriel Gómez (Atlético Bucaramanga) One to watch Román Torres (Seattle Sounders) Manager Hernán Darío Gómez Odds 1,000-1
After a 12-year absence Tunisia are back at a World Cup but their path was not entirely straight. They sacked Henryk Kasperczak soon after losing in the last eight of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Nabil Maâloul was appointed in April and steered the country to the World Cup, mainly using a 4-2-3-1. The full-backs are encouraged to attack and on the left Ali Maâloul of Al Ahly is key because of how much he contributes going forward. The midfield are dominated by two hard-working ball-winners in Ferjani Sassi and Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, with the MKN trio of Youssef Msakni, Wahbi Khazri and Naïm Sliti adding flair. Msakni, who plays in Qatar, is a tremendous talent and often carries the team. The manager sometimes switches to 4-3-2-1, especially against attacking teams, incorporating the defensive midfilder Ghailene Chaalali instead of Khazri or Sliti.
How they qualified Winners of African Group A (round three) Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Youssef Msakni (Al-Duhail) One to watch Naïm Sliti (Dijon, on loan from Lille) Manager Nabil Maâloul Odds 400-1
The most amazing statistic about England is that they have not lost a qualifying match for any major competition since October 2009. It is an incredible run, covering 39 games, with three different managers in place since the team, then led by Fabio Capello, went down 1-0 to Ukraine. Gareth Southgate has certainly had an eventful year since being promoted from his role as the manager of England’s under-21s. Southgate has moved out Wayne Rooney and overseen a period of change that now has England operating with a younger, more experimental team in a 3-4-2-1 formation. Yet there are lingering questions about whether they have improved since the ordeal of being eliminated by Iceland at Euro 2016. England fans even staged a walkout at the qualifying match in Malta.
How they qualified Winners of European Group F ahead of Slovakia Preferred system 3-4-2-1 Star player Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) One to watch Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) Manager Gareth Southgate Odds 16-1
England’s squad has been revamped by Gareth Southgate since the Euro 2016 debacle, with Daniel Sturridge among those unlikely to travel to Russia.
Adam Nawalka’s side always looked certain of qualifying and won eight of their 10 games. The captain, Robert Lewandowski, hit a record-breaking 16 goals and his leadership was crucial as Poland returned to the biggest stage after a 12-year absence but they are not a one-man team: other players also contributed heavily to ensure that Poland ended up in pot one for the draw. The defence is a concern (Poland conceded 14 goals – the most of all groups winners) but Nawalka is capable of sorting it out with Poland having the second-best defence at Euro 2016 until the quarter-finals. He has six months to fine-tune his plans, which include working on a formation with three central defenders. Poland have a strong backbone of Wojciech Szczesny-Kamil Glik-Grzegorz Krychowiak-Robert Lewandowski with Hull City’s Kamil Grosicki another key player with his pace on the left flank.
How they qualified Winners of European Group E ahead of Denmark Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) One to watchPiotr Zielinski (Napoli) Manager Adam Nawalka Odds 40-1
This will be Senegal’s second World Cup finals after Aliou Cissé, who was the captain of the 2002 side under the late Bruno Metsu, guided his team through a difficult qualification group containing Burkina Faso, South Africa and Cape Verde. Cissé has moulded a team strong in all areas. The addition of M’Baye Niang to a forward line who include Keita Baldé of Monaco and Liverpool’s Sadio Mané has allowed Cissé to play 4-3-3, although in the crucial victory over South Africa West Ham’s Diafra Sakho started in a 4-4-2. Much will be expected of Mané, who has been the star man for several years and has been compared to El Hadji Diouf, the talisman for the 2002 side. His injury problems have slowed down a brilliant start to life at Liverpool and he will need to be at his best in Russia.
How they qualified Winners of African Group D (round three) ahead of Burkina Faso Preferred system 4-3-3 Star player Sadio Mané (Liverpool) One to watch M’Baye Niang (Torino, on loan from Milan) Manager Aliou Cissé Odds 150-1
Liverpool forward Sadio Mané will be Senegal’s main goal threat at their second World Cup.
Colombia will aim to repeat their performance from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when they reached the quarter-finals but it will be harder as they are not among the top seeds. That is an indication of the fact qualifying was not straightforward. “Qualifying was really hard,” says the coach, José Pékerman. “We’ve never experienced a situation where so few points separated so many teams.” Three factors explain the difficulties Colombia had: the need to inject youth in defence, the lack of playing time for the stars (James Rodríguez at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Radamel Falcao at Monaco and David Ospina at Arsenal) and the lack of options going forward. Pékerman often plays 4-2-3-1 but has tried 4-3-2-1 away from home. Colombia had their best results when they were more defensive and compact between the lines, hitting on the counter with speed and very few passes.
How they qualified Fourth in the South American section behind Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina Preferred system 4-2-3-1 Star player James Rodríguez (Bayern Munich, on loan from Real Madrid) One to watch Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotpsur) Manager José Pékerman Odds 50-1
Japan have traditionally preferred a possession-based style but Vahid Halilhodzic demands his side look to play on the counter. His drastic reforms have seen Japan’s two biggest stars, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, dropped from the squad as they failed to fit into this philosophy – or, in other words, preferred Japan’s traditional approach. There is also no room for Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City, because Halilhodzic opts for a lone forward capable of holding up the play. These choices, and the manager’s overall style, have been the subject of fierce debate in Japan. Halilhodzic has vast experience of international football and took Ivory Coast to the 2010 World Cup (although he was dismissed before the tournament) and Algeria to the 2014 tournament. Japan are more of a force to be reckoned with than you may believe. I wouldn't bet on them to go out early!
How they qualified Winners of Asian Group B (round three) ahead of Saudi Arabia Preferred system 4-3-3 Star player Maya Yoshida (Southampton) One to watchYosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka) Manager Vahid Halilhodzic Odds 250-1
|Thursday June 14||Russia v Saudi Arabia (A)||Moscow (Luzhniki)||4pm GMT|
|Friday June 15||Egypt v Uruguay (A)||Ekaterinburg||1pm|
|Friday June 15||Morocco v Iran (B)||St Petersburg||4pm|
|Friday June 15||Portugal v Spain (B)||Sochi||7pm|
|Saturday June 16||France v Australia (C)||Kazan||11am|
|Saturday June 16||Argentina v Iceland (D)||Moscow (Spartak)||2pm|
|Saturday June 16||Peru v Denmark (C)||Saransk||5pm|
|Saturday June 16||Croatia v Nigeria (D)||Kaliningrad||8pm|
|Sunday June 17||Costa Rica v Serbia (E)||Samara||1pm|
|Sunday June 17||Germany v Mexico (F)||Moscow (Luzhniki)||4pm|
|Sunday June 17||Brazil v Switzerland (E)||Rostov-on-Don||7pm|
|Monday June 18||Sweden v South Korea (F)||Nizhny Novgorod||1pm|
|Monday June 18||Belgium v Panama (G)||Sochi||4pm|
|Monday June 18||Tunisia v England (G)||Volgograd||7pm|
|Tuesday June 19||Poland v Senegal (H)||Moscow (Spartak)||1pm|
|Tuesday June 19||Colombia v Japan (H)||Saransk||4pm|
|Tuesday June 19||Russia v Egypt (A)||St Petersburg||7pm|
|Wednesday June 20||Portugal v Morocco (B)||Moscow (Luzhniki)||1pm|
|Wednesday June 20||Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (A)||Rostov-on-Don||4pm|
|Wednesday June 20||Iran v Spain (B)||Kazan||7pm|
|Thursday June 21||France v Peru (C)||Ekaterinburg||1pm|
|Thursday June 21||Denmark v Australia (C)||Samara||4pm|
|Thursday June 21||Argentina v Croatia (D)||Nizhny Novgorod||7pm|
|Friday June 22||Brazil v Costa Rica (E)||St Petersburg||1pm|
|Friday June 22||Nigeria v Iceland (D)||Volgograd||4pm|
|Friday June 22||Serbia v Switzerland (E)||Kaliningrad||7pm|
|Saturday June 23||Belgium v Tunisia (G)||Moscow (Spartak)||1pm|
|Saturday June 23||Germany v Sweden (F)||Sochi||4pm|
|Saturday June 23||South Korea v Mexico (F)||Rostov-on-Don||7pm|
|Sunday June 24||England v Panama (G)||Nizhny Novgorod||1pm|
|Sunday June 24||Japan v Senegal (H)||Ekaterinburg||4pm|
|Sunday June 24||Poland v Colombia (H)||Kazan||7pm|
|Monday June 25||Uruguay v Russia (A)||Samara||3pm|
|Monday June 25||Saudi Arabia v Egypt (A)||Volgograd||3pm|
|Monday June 25||Spain v Morocco (B)||Kaliningrad||7pm|
|Monday June 25||Iran v Portugal (B)||Saransk||7pm|
|Tuesday June 26||Denmark v France (C)||Moscow (Luzhniki)||3pm|
|Tuesday June 26||Australia v Peru (C)||Sochi||3pm|
|Tuesday June 26||Nigeria v Argentina (D)||St Petersburg||7pm|
|Tuesday June 26||Iceland v Croatia (D)||Rostov-on-Don||7pm|
|Wednesday June 27||South Korea v Germany (F)||Kazan||3pm|
|Wednesday June 27||Mexico v Sweden (F)||Ekaterinburg||3pm|
|Wednesday June 27||Serbia v Brazil (E)||Moscow (Spartak)||7pm|
|Wednesday June 27||Switzerland v Costa Rica (E)||Nizhny Novgorod||7pm|
|Thursday June 28||Japan v Poland (H)||Volgograd||3pm|
|Thursday June 28||Senegal v Colombia (H)||Samara||3pm|
|Thursday June 28||England v Belgium (G)||Kaliningrad||7pm|
|Thursday June 28||Panama v Tunisia (G)||Saransk||7pm|
|Saturday June 30||1C v 2D (Match 50)||Kazan||3pm|
|Saturday June 30||1A v 2B (Match 49)||Sochi||7pm|
|Sunday July 1||1B v 2A (Match 51)||Moscow||3pm|
|Sunday July 1||1D v 2C (Match 52)||Nizhny Novgorod||7pm|
|Monday July 2||1E v 2F (Match 53)||Samara||3pm|
|Monday July 2||1G v 2H (Match 54)||Rostov-on-Don||7pm|
|Tuesday July 3||1F v 2E (Match 55)||St Petersburg||3pm|
|Tuesday July 3||1H v 2G (Match 56)||Moscow (Spartak)||7pm|
|Friday July 6||Winner 49 v winner 50 (57)||Nizhny Novgorod||3pm|
|Friday July 6||Winner 53 v winner 54 (58)||Kazan||7pm|
|Saturday July 7||Winner 55 v winner 56 (60)||Samara||3pm|
|Saturday July 7||Winner 51 v winner 52 (59)||Sochi||7pm|
|Tuesday July 10||Winner 57 v winner 58||St Petersburg||7pm|
|Wednesday July 11||Winner 59 v winner 60||Moscow (Luzhniki)||7pm|
|Saturday July 14||Losers of two semi-finals||St Petersburg||3pm|
|Sunday July 15||Winners of two-semi-finals||Moscow (Luzhniki)||4pm|
FIFA World Cup 2018 Stadiums
Russia World Cup 2018 – in numbers
Playing venues: 12
Opening match: Luzhniki Stadium
Final: Luzhniki Stadium
Average venue capacity: 49,300 seats
Largest venue: Luzhniki Stadium (81,000 seats)
Smallest venue: Kaliningrad Stadium (35,212 seats)
Average no. of matches per venue: 5.33
Luzhniki Stadium | Capacity: 80,000 seats | Opening: 1956
14 June 2018 18:00 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
17 June 2018 18:00 – Germany vs Mexico – Group F
20 June 2018 15:00 – Portugal vs Morocco – Group B
26 June 2018 17:00 – Denmark vs France – Group C
1 July 2018 17:00 – 1B vs 2A – Round of 16
11 July 2018 21:00 – W59 vs W60 – Semi Final
15 July 2018 18:00 – W61 vs W62 – Final
Saint Petersburg Stadium | Capacity: 67,000 seats | Opening: 2017
15 June 2018 17:00 – Morocco vs Iran – Group B
19 June 2018 21:00 – Russia vs Egypt – Group A
22 June 2018 15:00 – Brazil vs Costa Rica – Group E
26 June 2018 21:00 – Nigeria vs Argentina – Group D
3 July 2018 17:00 – 1F vs 2E – Round of 16
10 July 2018 21:00 – W57 vs W58 – Semi Final
14 July 2018 17:00 – L61 vs L62 – Third Place
Fisht Stadium | Capacity: 48,000 seats | Opening: 2013
15 June 2018 21:00 – Portugal vs Spain – Group B
18 June 2018 18:00 – Belgium vs Panama – Group G
23 June 2018 18:00 – Germany vs Sweden – Group F
26 June 2018 17:00 – Australia vs Peru – Group C
30 June 2018 21:00 – 1A vs 2B – Round of 16
7 July 2018 21:00 – W51 vs W52 – Quarter Final
Ekaterinburg Arena | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Scheduled opening: late 2017 | Status: under construction
15 June 2018 17:00 – Egypt vs Uruguay – Group A
21 June 2018 17:00 – France vs Peru – Group C
24 June 2018 20:00 – Japan vs Senegal – Group H
27 June 2018 19:00 – Mexico vs Sweden – Group F
Kazan Arena | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2013
16 June 2018 13:00 – France vs Australia – Group C
20 June 2018 21:00 – Iran vs Spain – Group B
24 June 2018 21:00 – Poland vs Colombia – Group H
27 June 2018 17:00 – Korea Republic vs Germany – Group F
30 June 2018 17:00 – 1C vs 2D – Round of 16
6 July 2018 21:00 – W53 vs W54 – Quarter Final
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
18 June 2018 15:00 – Sweden vs Korea Republic – Group F
21 June 2018 21:00 – Argentina vs Croatia – Group D
24 June 2018 15:00 – England vs Panama – Group G
27 June 2018 21:00 – Switzerland vs Costa Rica – Group E
1 July 2018 21:00 – 1D vs 2C – Round of 16
6 July 2018 17:00 – W49 vs W50 – Quarter Final
Rostov Arena | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
17 June 2018 21:00 – Brazil vs Switzerland – Group E
20 June 2018 18:00 – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
23 June 2018 21:00 – Korea Republic vs Mexico – Group F
26 June 2018 21:00 – Iceland vs Croatia – Group D
2 July 2018 21:00 – 1G vs 2H – Round of 16
Samara Arena | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
17 June 2018 16:00 – Costa Rica vs Serbia – Group E
21 June 2018 19:00 – Denmark vs Australia – Group C
25 June 2018 18:00 – Uruguay vs Russia – Group A
28 June 2018 18:00 – Senegal vs Colombia – Group H
2 July 2018 18:00 – 1E vs 2F – Round of 16
7 July 2018 18:00 – W55 vs W56 – Quarter Final
Mordovia Arena | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
16 June 2018 19:00 – Peru vs Denmark – Group C
19 June 2018 18:00 – Colombia vs Japan – Group H
25 June 2018 21:00 – Iran vs Portugal – Group B
28 June 2018 21:00 – Panama vs Tunisia – Group G
Volgograd Stadium | Capacity: 45,000 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
18 June 2018 21:00 – Tunisia vs England – Group G
22 June 2018 18:00 – Nigeria vs Iceland – Group D
25 June 2018 17:00 – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Group A
28 June 2018 17:00 – Japan vs Poland – Group H
Spartak Stadium | Capacity: 42,000 seats | Opening: 2014
16 June 2018 16:00 – Argentina vs Iceland – Group D
19 June 2018 15:00 – Poland vs Senegal – Group H
23 June 2018 15:00 – Belgium vs Tunisia – Group B
26 June 2018 17:00 – Serbia vs Brazil – Group C
3 July 2018 21:00 – 1H vs 2G – Round of 16
Kaliningrad Stadium | Capacity: 35,212 seats | Opening: 2017 | Status: under construction
16 June 2018 21:00 – Croatia vs Nigeria – Group D
22 June 2018 20:00 – Serbia vs Switzerland – Group E
25 June 2018 20:00 – Spain vs Morocco – Group B
28 June 2018 20:00 – England vs Belgium – Group G
History of FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in the rear of the headquarters of the Union Française de Sports Athlétiques at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris on 21 May 1904. The foundation act was signed by the authorised representatives of the following associations:
Present at that historic meeting were: Robert Guérin and André Espir (France); Louis Muhlinghaus and Max Kahn (Belgium); Ludvig Sylow (Denmark); Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman (Netherlands); Victor E Schneider (Switzerland). Sylow also represented the SBF while Spir performed the same function for the Madrid Football Club.
- France - Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA)
- Belgium - Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports (UBSSA)
- Denmark - Dansk Boldspil Union (DBU)
- Netherlands - Nederlandsche Voetbal Bond (NVB)
- Spain - Madrid Football Club
- Sweden - Svenska Bollspells Förbundet (SBF)
- Switzerland - Association Suisse de Football (ASF)
When the idea of founding an international football federation began taking shape in Europe, the intention of those involved was to recognise the role of the English who had founded their Football Association back in 1863. Hirschman, secretary of the Netherlands Football Association, turned to the Football Association. Its secretary, FJ Wall, did accept the proposal but progress stalled while waiting for the Executive Committee of the Football Association, the International FA Board and the associations of Scotland, Wales and Ireland to give their opinion about the matter.
Guérin, secretary of the football department of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques and a journalist with Le Matin newspaper, did not want to wait any longer. He contacted the national associations on the continent in writing and asked them to consider the possibility of founding an umbrella organisation.
When Belgium and France met in the first official international match in Brussels on 1 May 1904, Guérin discussed the subject with his Belgian counterpart Louis Muhlinghaus. It was now definite that the English FA, under its president Lord Kinnaird, would not be participating in the foundation of an international federation. So Guérin took the opportunity and sent out invitations to the founding assembly. The process of organising the international game had begun.
The first FIFA Statutes were laid down and the following points determined: the reciprocal and exclusive recognition of the national associations represented and attending; clubs and players were forbidden to play simultaneously for different national associations; recognition by the other associations of a player's suspension announced by an association; and the playing of matches according to the Laws of the Game of the Football Association Ltd.
Each national association had to pay an annual fee of FF50. Already then there were thoughts of staging an international competition and Article 9 stipulated that FIFA alone was entitled to take over the organisation of such an event. It was decided that these regulations would only come into force as of 1 September 1904. Moreover, the first Statutes of FIFA were only of a provisional nature, in order to simplify the acceptance of additional members. On the day of foundation, the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (German FA) sent a telegram confirming that it would adhere to these Statutes in principle.
The first FIFA Congress followed immediately and on 22 May 1904, Robert Guerin was elected as President. Victor E Schneider (Switzerland) and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman (Netherlands) were made Vice-Presidents. Louis Muhlinghaus (Belgium) was appointed Secretary and Treasurer, with the assistance of Ludvig Sylow (Denmark). These pioneers were faced with an immense task because FIFA only existed on paper, as it were. Now came the real work: to give this new body shape and attract new members. In the first place, the English had to be convinced that their membership of this newly created organisation was indispensable.
On 14 April 1905, the Executive Committee of the FA recognised the national associations affiliated to FIFA and joined. This was FlFA's first big success and the credit was due Baron Edouard de Laveleye. With great personal effort, the president of the Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques dissipated the last misgivings of the English. The Baron became the first honorary member of FIFA.
The second FIFA Congress took place in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905. In the meantime, the associations from Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary had joined FIFA; Scotland, Wales and Ireland would follow England's example. There was already talk about an international competition to take place in 1906. It would consist of four groups and Switzerland would be in charge of organising the semi-finals and the final. There was a proposal to involve the best club teams and Schneider, the Swiss Vice-President, had already donated a trophy.
The FIFA Executive Committee was elected for a further year but now the difficulties were accumulating. The first international competition was a failure. Various national associations had major worries, with the French governing body divided internally. These difficulties were a heavy burden for the FIFA President who had set about his tasks with so much enthusiasm. Guerin increasingly withdrew from the sport and handed over the administration to Vice-President Schneider and Espir, his personal assistant.
All the same, FIFA could now give a sign of its strength. When the 'English Ramblers', an improvised English football club, wanted to play games on the continent without the authorisation of the FA, FIFA forbade its members from playing against this team. The FA, which like its three fellow British associations now had a good relationship with FIFA, was particularly impressed by this strict and uncompromising stance.
This was in clear evidence at the next Congress in Berne in 1906 where - with Schneider conducting negotiations in the absence of Guérin - Daniel Burley Woolfall, an Englishman, was elected the new President. Woolfall was a pragmatist and had gathered a great deal of experience on the administrative board of the FA. Under his guidance, English and continental football became more united. Moreover, he also led the push for uniformity in the Laws of the Game.
The idea of holding a major international competition was still up in the air and so the FA in England assumed the responsibility for staging a tournament that took place as part of the Olympic Games in London in 1908. Some problems arose in the organisation, which were still unsolved four years later in 1912, when the tournament was played in Stockholm. The new sport was regarded with suspicion at the Olympics and was considered as a show and not a competition. Given the amateur ethos of the Olympics, the problem of professional players also arose - a thorny problem which would be pursued in decades to follow. England won both the 1908 and 1912 tournaments.
The Congress which, in accordance with the Statutes, was to be held in different cities on an annual basis, was always presided over by President Woolfall. The will to impose uniform football rules on an international level always featured at the top of the agenda. This had a positive effect, resulting in the basic rules of the federation, which are still partly valid today and which allowed FIFA to create a solid base and develop clear guidelines.
Under the guidance of the English President, obvious progress was also made in the administration. The first official FIFA bulletin was published. It was agreed to have French as the official language. The application of the Laws of the Game, strictly established according to the English model, became compulsory. A clear definition was made of international matches - national selections and inter-club - and outsiders were forbidden to organise games for lucrative purposes.
FIFA only consisted of European Associations up until 1909. The first members from overseas joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/10, Argentina and Chile in 1912, United States in 1913. This was the start of FlFA's intercontinental activities. The long path towards full expansion had been sketched out.
The start of World War One caused a major interruption. Who talked then about football and its mission to unite nations? And yet, the ties that had been developed were not fully broken, even if they were only maintained on a small scale. There were some international matches played, albeit organised on neutral territory. However, given the difficulties some members faced in crossing frontiers, there would be no Congress for seven years from 1914.
President Daniel Burley Woolfall died in 1918 and that FIFA did not fade out altogether was down to one man only, Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman. He carried out his tasks as honorary secretary from his offices in Amsterdam and carefully kept the organisation alive, maintaining correspondence with his foreign colleagues. This way, he looked after the FIFA Secretariat on his own, and at his own expense.
Hirschman had an incredible capacity for work and dedicated his life to sport in general and football in particular. A former general secretary of the Dutch Football Association, he also helped establish his national Olympic Committee. One of the founders of FIFA, he made contact with all the members at the end of the war, on the initiative of the President of the French Football Association, Jules Rimet. Hirschman actually convened an assembly in Brussels in 1919 but negotiations advanced slowly. After a long, bloody war, wounds had not yet healed. Many delegates, particularly the British, did not yet want to accept yesterday's foes.
A meeting was eventually held in Antwerp in 1920 and a new administrative Board of FIFA was elected on a provisional basis. It comprised the following: Rimet as chairman, Denmark's Louis Oestrup as deputy chairman and Hirschman as honorary secretary. The results of this election were then submitted to all affiliated associations which unanimously gave their approval by mail. This was the last time that such a procedure was employed, as the next Statutes excluded voting by mail or by mandate.
Rimet became FIFA's third President on 1 March 1921 and the game's governing body became the life task of the then 48 year-old Frenchman. He took over a federation that had been shaken by World War One and counted 20 members. The British had left in unison and neither Brazil nor Uruguay were present. Over the 33 years of his presidency, FIFA experienced an incredible upswing - and this in spite of the subsequent horrors of World War Two. One ought to talk about a 'Jules Rimet era' in view of his success in reorganising FIFA and realising the dream of a world championship. On passing on the reins of FIFA in 1954, as he opened the FIFA World Cup ™ in Switzerland, the federation counted 85 members.
Rimet was hardly an unknown. While president of France's Ligue de Football Association, he had participated in the 1914 Congress. The following proposal was ratified on that occasion: "Under the condition that the Olympic Tournament take place in accordance with the Regulations of FIFA, the latter shall recognise this as a world football championship for amateurs." FIFA had underlined its eagerness to assume responsibility for organising the Olympic Football Tournament and in the first years of Rimet's reign, it did just that.
The 1924 Olympic Football Tournament in Paris featured 24 teams and proved a great success. The British stayed away but the Americans were there and a team representing faraway Uruguay showed how football was played in South America, much to the delight of the public. Uruguay's results were astounding: 7-0 against Yugoslavia, 3-0 against the United States, 5-1 against France, 2-1 against the Netherlands. Sixty thousand spectators followed the final between Uruguay and Switzerland, which the South Americans won 3-0. Uruguay had the gold medal - and were celebrated as world champions in Montevideo.
South America's predominance was even more impressive at the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928. Uruguay retained their gold medal at the expense of their neighbours and final opponents Argentina. It was not long before the teams were facing each in another final... for an even greater prize.
The success of the Olympic Football Tournament intensified FlFA's wish for its own world championship. Questionnaires were sent to the affiliated associations, asking whether they agreed to the organisation of a tournament and under what conditions. A special committee examined the question, with President Jules Rimet the driving force. He was aided by the untiring Secretary of the French Football Federation, Henri Delaunay.
Following a remarkable proposal by the Executive Committee, the FIFA Congress in Amsterdam on 28 May 1928 decided to stage a world championship organised by FIFA. Now, the organising country had to be chosen. Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden submitted their candidatures. Right from the start, Uruguay was the favourite and not simply for its Olympic gold medal wins in 1924 and 1928 - the country was celebrating its 100th anniversary of independence in 1930 at great expense.
Moreover, its national association was willing to cover all the costs, including the travel and accommodation of the participating teams. Any possible profit would be shared, while Uruguay would take on the deficit. These arguments were decisive. The FIFA Congress in Barcelona in 1929 assigned Uruguay as first host country of the FIFA World Cup ™. The other candidates had withdrawn.
With Europe in the midst of an economic crisis, not everything went to plan during the countdown to these first finals. Participation did not only involve a long sea journey for the Europeans; the clubs would have to renounce their best players for two months. Consequently, more and more associations broke their promise to participate and it took much manoeuvring by Rimet to ensure at least four European teams - France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia - joined him on the Conte Verde liner bound for Buenos Aires.
The first FIFA World Cup opened at the brand-new Estadio Centenario in Montevideo on 18 July 1930. It was the beginning of a new era in world football and the inaugural event proved a remarkable success, both in a sporting and a financial sense. Of course, the organisers were disappointed that only four European sides had participated. The anger in Montevideo was so intense in fact that four years later, world champions Uruguay became the first and only team to refuse to defend their title.
When the Congress convened in Budapest in 1930, it thanked Uruguay for staging the world championship for the first time in difficult conditions. It also noted its regret at seeing only a minimum number of teams participating from Europe.
The significance of the new tournament only increased following the setback FIFA suffered in the lead-up to the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. After failing to settle differences of opinion over the amateur status of footballers with the International Olympic Committee regarding the amateur status of football players, plans to organise the Olympic Football Tournament were abandoned.
FIFA chose Italy ahead of rival candidates Sweden to host the second FIFA World Cup and this time it took qualifying matches to arrive at the 16 finalists. Unlike in 1930 there were no groups and only knockout rounds, meaning Brazil and Argentina went home after playing just one match each. Once again, the home team prevailed, Italy winning the Final against Czechoslovakia in extra time. For the first time, the Final was transmitted on the radio.
Four years later, Rimet saw his wish fulfilled when the third FIFA World Cup took place in France, his home country. Again not everything ran according to plan: Austria had disappeared from the scene and so Sweden did not have an opponent in the first round. Uruguay still did not wish to participate and Argentina withdrew. This is why the national teams from Cuba and the Dutch East Indies came to France. This time, there was no home victory and Italy successfully defended their title.
The FIFA World Cup should have taken place for the fourth time in 1942 but the outbreak of World War Two meant otherwise. Although FIFA maintained its Zurich offices throughout the conflict, it was not until 1 July 1946 in Luxembourg that the Congress met again. Thirty-four associations were represented and they gave Rimet, who had been President for a quarter of a century already, a special Jubilee gift. From now on, the FIFA World Cup trophy would be called the Jules Rimet Cup.
As the only candidate, Brazil was chosen unanimously to host the next FIFA World Cup, to be staged in 1949 (and postponed to 1950 for time reasons). At the same time, Switzerland was given the option for 1954.
The event was celebrated with a match between Great Britain and a 'Rest of Europe XI' played at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 10 May 1947.Billed as 'The Match of the Century' by the press, it drew a crowd of 135,000 spectators and receipts amounted to £35,000. As a sign of goodwill, this sum was placed at FlFA's disposal in order to help the governing body surmount financial difficulties brought on by the war years. The British won the game 6-1.
The first post-war FIFA World Cup™ was staged in Brazil in 1950, where the hosts lost out on the title to Uruguay. For the second time, the 'Jules Rimet Cup' was bound for Montevideo.
The start of the fifth finals in Switzerland in 1954 signalled the end of Rimet's long reign. After opening the tournament in Lausanne, the 80-year-old President confirmed his retirement at the Congress in Bern on 21 June. Rimet earned a standing ovation from his fellow delegates and, moreover, became the first Honorary President. For the last time, on 4 July, the 'Father of the World Cup' presented the captain of the victorious team, West Germany's Fritz Walter, with the 'Jules Rimet Cup'.
Rodolphe William Seeldrayers was the fourth President of FIFA, stepping into the shoes of Jules Rimet whom he had assisted as Vice-President for over 25 years. In his new function, he celebrated the 50th Anniversary of FIFA, which now counted 85 members. Yet his reign was brief, curtailed by his death in October 1955.
Seeldrayers' successor was Arthur Drewry who was elected President on 9 June 1956, but had already headed FIFA for over half a year on an interim basis. He chaired the Study Committee for the new FIFA Statutes and opened the sixth FIFA World Cup in Stockholm in 1958. Brazil captured their first world title in Sweden but it would prove the only finals of Drewry's presidency. He died on 25 March 1961 aged 70.
FIFA's operations were controlled for six months by the Swiss Ernst B Thommen who, as chairman of the Organising Committee for the 1954, 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups, gave great service to the world governing body. Then, on 28 September 1961, Sir Stanley Rous was elected the sixth President of FIFA.
Rous was an international referee in his younger years and in the late 1930s had helped rewrite the Laws of the Game. It was to his great delight that during his term of office, England won the world crown in 1966. As President, Rous oversaw further expansion. During this post-colonial period, the number of members grew steadily with affiliation to FIFA among the first steps taken by many newly independent nations. The television transmission of the FIFA World Cup also contributed considerably towards the worldwide expansion.
As a private institution, FIFA's means and possibilities were still very much restricted as it received neither governmental subsidies nor funds from other sources. Income came strictly from profits from the FIFA World Cup and this money had to be spread out over a four-year period. It took a great deal of self-sacrifice, therefore, to maintain FIFA's good work and Rous achieved this. In recognition of his merits, he was made Honorary President in Frankfurt on 11 June 1974. On that day, the Brazilian Dr Joao Havelange took over the reins of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
From the moment the South American Confederation, the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol, presented his candidature for the FIFA Presidency in 1970, Dr João Havelange had looked for solutions to the major problems of world football. When the Brazilian was elected at the 39th Congress in 1974, he was ready to consider football not only as a competition but also to try and find new ways and means of promoting technical development worldwide.
Havelange's installation in FIFA's headquarters heralded the dawn of a new era. Previously, with survival dependent almost exclusively on FIFA World Cup™ proceeds in four-yearly intervals, the world governing body had been somewhat conservative when it came to taking decisions. In no time, Havelange transformed an administration-oriented institution into a dynamic enterprise brimming with new ideas and the will to see them through.
The actual address in Zurich, home to FIFA since 1932, did not alter but beside the Derwald Villa on the Zurichberg, which in 1974 housed a staff of just 12, a modern office building now rose housing almost 100 employees coming to grips with an ever increasing workload.
Back in 1974, FIFA was flexing its muscles in readiness for the tenth FIFA World Cup, which was very much a trial of strength between Europe with nine teams and South America with four. The ripples created by political upheavals, particularly in Africa where many former colonies had been granted independence, were beginning to be noticed on the international sports scene. At that time Africa, Asia, and CONCACAF were each still sending one selection each to the world football showpiece. For the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, Havelange duly increased the table of competitors from 16 to 24 teams.
Since that decision, the unqualified success of teams that were once derided as also-rans has reinforced Havelange's notion that his policies were right. For the 1998 finals in France, the field was increased again to 32 finalists, allowing even greater participation from all the confederations.
On a political level, Havelange firmly followed the course of appeasement and service, following the principle of universality to which FIFA has committed itself. Under his leadership, the FIFA offices became the hub of sporting diplomacy. One notable example of this was when representatives from Iraq, Iran, the two Koreas, Japan and Saudi Arabia came face to face in Zurich in July 1993 to discuss the Asian final qualifying round for USA 94 in an atmosphere of friendship and peace.
Havelange had already shown his flair for taking advantage of the conciliatory potential of football at exactly the right moment. After intense diplomatic activity - the Brazilian visited every association at least once- he smoothed the way for the People's Republic of China to return to FIFA. In 1991 the two Koreas sent a joint team to the FIFA World Youth Championship in Portugal. And because of its particular situation, Israel began competing with European teams in all FIFA qualifying competitions.
Over the past 25 years football has enhanced its status as the world's leading game, reaching into other branches of society, commerce and politics. Football, more than any other factor, has enveloped whole regions, people and nations.
With approximately 200 million active players it now constitutes a substantial chunk of the leisure industry, having opened up new markets for itself and for the rest of the business world.
The potential has yet to be exhausted, especially in Asia and North America. As of mid-2007, FIFA has grown to include 208 member associations, thus making it one of the biggest and certainly the most popular sports federation in the world.
On 8 June 1998 Joseph S. Blatter was elected as successor to Dr João Havelange and became the eighth FIFA President. This victory at the 51st FIFA Ordinary Congress in Paris elevated the Swiss, who had already served FIFA in various positions for 23 years, on to the highest rung in international football.
Winners of the World Cup
Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times, with Italy hard on their heels with four wins and West Germany on three. Here is a list of all the World Cup winners along with runner-up and final score.
|1974||West Germany||West Germany||Netherlands||2-1|
|1994||United States||Brazil||Italy||0-0 (P)|
|2010||South Africa||Spain||Netherlands||1-0 (AET)|
FIFA World Cup All Time Statistics
|EDITION||TEAMS||MATCHES PLAYED||GOALS SCORED||AVERAGE GOALS||AVG. ATTENDANCE|
|2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil ™||32||64||171||2.7||52,918|
|2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa ™||32||64||145||2.3||49,669|
|2006 FIFA World Cup Germany ™||32||64||147||2.3||52,491|
|2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan ™||32||64||161||2.5||42,268|
|1998 FIFA World Cup France ™||32||64||171||2.7||43,517|
|1994 FIFA World Cup USA ™||24||52||141||2.7||68,991|
|1990 FIFA World Cup Italy ™||24||52||115||2.2||48,388|
|1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico ™||24||52||132||2.5||46,039|
|1982 FIFA World Cup Spain ™||24||52||146||2.8||40,571|
|1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina ™||16||38||102||2.7||40,678|
|1974 FIFA World Cup Germany ™||16||38||97||2.6||49,098|
|1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico ™||16||32||95||3.0||50,124|
|1966 FIFA World Cup England ™||16||32||89||2.8||48,847|
|1962 FIFA World Cup Chile ™||16||32||89||2.8||27,911|
|1958 FIFA World Cup Sweden ™||16||35||126||3.6||23,423|
|1954 FIFA World Cup Switzerland ™||16||26||140||5.4||29,561|
|1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil ™||13||22||88||4.0||47,511|
|1938 FIFA World Cup France ™||15||18||84||4.7||20,872|
|1934 FIFA World Cup Italy ™||16||17||70||4.1||21,352|
|1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay ™||13||18||70||3.9||32,808|
FIFA WORLD CUP - ALL-TIME RANKINGS
PLAYERS WITH THE MOST TOURNAMENT PARTICIPATIONS
|Antonio CARBAJAL||5||1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966|
|Lothar MATTHAEUS||5||1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998|
|Gianluigi BUFFON||5||1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014|
|NILTON SANTOS||4||1950, 1954, 1958, 1962|
|CASTILHO||4||1950, 1954, 1958, 1962|
MATCHES WITH THE MOST GOALS
26 JUN 1954 - 17:00 Local time
05 JUN 1938 - 17:30 Local time
Stade de la Meinau
Brazil win after extra time
20 JUN 1954 - 16:50 Local time
15 JUN 1982 - 21:00 Local time
08 JUN 1958 - 19:00 Local time
19 JUL 1930 - 15:00 Local time
17 JUN 1954 - 18:00 Local time
23 JUN 1954 - 18:00 Local time
28 JUN 1958 - 17:00 Local time
MATCH FOR THIRD PLACE
18 JUN 1974 - 19:30 Local time