2018 Fifa World Cup

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.



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2018 FIFA World Cup
Чемпионат мира по футболу FIFA 2018
Chempionat mira po futbolu FIFA 2018
2018 FIFA World Cup official logo
Tournament details
Host countryRussia
Dates14 June – 15 July
Teams32 (from 5 confederations)
Venue(s)12 (in 11 host cities)
Final positions
Champions France (2nd title)
Runners-up Croatia
Third place Belgium
Fourth place England
Tournament statistics
Matches played64
Goals scored169 (2.64 per match)
Attendance3,031,768 (47,371 per match)
Top scorer(s)England Harry Kane (6 goals)
Best player(s)Croatia Luka Modrić
Best young playerFrance Kylian Mbappé
Best goalkeeperBelgium Thibaut Courtois
Fair play award Spain

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.[1] It was the first World Cup to be held in Eastern Europe,[2] 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.[3] It was also the first World Cup to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.[4][5]

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.[6]

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.

Host selection

Russian bid personnel celebrate the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia on 2 December 2010.
President Vladimir Putin holding the FIFA World Cup Trophy at a pre-tournament ceremony in Moscow on 9 September 2017
The 100-ruble commemorative banknote celebrates the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It features an image of Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

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.[7] Initially, nine countries placed bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mexico later withdrew from proceedings,[8] and Indonesia's bid was rejected by FIFA in February 2010 after the Indonesian government failed to submit a letter to support the bid.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

The voting results were as follows:[12]

2018 FIFA bidding (majority 12 votes)
Bidders Votes
Round 1 Round 2
Russia 9 13
Portugal / Spain 7 7
Belgium / Netherlands 4 2
England 2 Eliminated


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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15][16]



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.[17] Zimbabwe and Indonesia were later disqualified before playing their first matches,[18][19] 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.[20] Places in the tournament were allocated to continental confederations, with the allocation unchanged from the 2014 World Cup.[21][22] The first qualification game, between Timor-Leste and Mongolia, began in Dili on 12 March 2015 as part of the AFC's qualification,[23] and the main qualifying draw took place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg, on 25 July 2015.[24][25][26][1]

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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

Note: Numbers in parentheses indicate positions in the FIFA World Rankings at the time of the tournament.[30]


Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro in Moscow at the 2018 World Cup draw

The draw was held on 1 December 2017 at 18:00 MSK at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow.[31][32] The 32 teams were drawn into 8 groups of 4, by selecting one team from each of the 4 ranked pots.

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.[33] 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

 Russia (65) (hosts)
 Germany (1)
 Brazil (2)
 Portugal (3)
 Argentina (4)
 Belgium (5)
 Poland (6)
 France (7)

 Spain (8)
 Peru (10)
  Switzerland (11)
 England (12)
 Colombia (13)
 Mexico (16)
 Uruguay (17)
 Croatia (18)

 Denmark (19)
 Iceland (21)
 Costa Rica (22)
 Sweden (25)
 Tunisia (28)
 Egypt (30)
 Senegal (32)
 Iran (34)

 Serbia (38)
 Nigeria (41)
 Australia (43)
 Japan (44)
 Morocco (48)
 Panama (49)
 South Korea (62)
 Saudi Arabia (63)


Croatia players after the 2018 World Cup Final against France

Initially, each team had to name a preliminary squad of 30 players but, in February 2018, this was increased to 35.[34] 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.[35]

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.[36]


On 29 March 2018, FIFA released the list of 36 referees and 63 assistant referees selected to oversee matches.[37] On 30 April 2018, FIFA released the list of 13 video assistant referees, who solely acted in this capacity in the tournament.[38]

Referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi of Saudi Arabia was removed in 30 May 2018 over a match-fixing attempt,[39] 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.[40][41] 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.[42]

Video assistant referees

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.[43][44]

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.[45] Systems are in place for communicating VAR-related information to broadcasters and visuals on stadiums' large screens are used for the fans in attendance.[45]

VAR had a significant impact in several games.[46] On 15 June 2018, Diego Costa's goal against Portugal became the first World Cup goal based on a VAR decision;[47] 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.[48] A record number of penalties were awarded in the tournament, with this phenomenon being partially attributed to VAR.[49] Overall, the new technology has been both praised and criticised by commentators.[50] FIFA declared the implementation of VAR a success after the first week of competition.[51]


Russia proposed the following host cities: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl, and Yekaterinburg.[52] Most cities are in European Russia, while Yekaterinburg[53] is 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."[54]

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.[55]

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.[56]

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".[57]

Reconstruction of the Yekaterinburg Central Stadium in January 2017

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.[58]

On 8 October 2015, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee agreed on the official names of the stadiums used during the tournament.[59]

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.


Exterior of Otkrytie Arena in Moscow

Twelve stadiums in eleven Russian cities were built and renovated for the FIFA World Cup.[60]

  • Kaliningrad: Kaliningrad Stadium. The first piles were driven into the ground in September 2015. On 11 April 2018 the new stadium hosted its first match.
  • Kazan: Kazan Arena. The stadium was built for the 2013 Summer Universiade. It has since hosted the 2015 World Aquatics Championship and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. The stadium serves as a home arena to FC Rubin Kazan.
  • Moscow: Luzhniki Stadium. The largest stadium in the country was closed for renovation in 2013. The stadium was commissioned in November 2017.
  • Moscow: Spartak Stadium. The stadium is a home arena to its namesake FC Spartak Moscow. In accordance with the FIFA requirements, during the 2018 World Cup it is called Spartak Stadium instead of its usual name Otkritie Arena. The stadium hosted its first match on 5 September 2014.
  • Nizhny Novgorod: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The construction of the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium commenced in 2015. The project was completed in December 2017.[61]
  • Rostov-on-Don: Rostov Arena. The stadium is located on the left bank of the Don River. The stadium construction was completed on 22 December 2017.
  • Saint Petersburg: Saint Petersburg Stadium. The construction of the stadium commenced in 2007. The project was officially completed on 29 December 2016.[62] The stadium has hosted games of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and will serve as a venue for UEFA Euro 2020.
  • Samara: Samara Arena. The construction officially started on 21 July 2014. The project was completed on 21 April 2018.
  • Saransk: Mordovia Arena. The stadium in Saransk was scheduled to be commissioned in 2012 in time for the opening of the all-Russian Spartakiad, but the plan was revised. The opening was rescheduled to 2017. The arena hosted its first match on 21 April 2018.
  • Sochi: Fisht Stadium. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Afterwards, it was renovated in preparation for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup.
  • Volgograd: Volgograd Arena. The main arena of Volgograd was built on the demolished Central Stadium site, at the foot of the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex. The stadium was commissioned on 3 April 2018.[63]
  • Yekaterinburg: Ekaterinburg Arena. The Central Stadium of Yekaterinburg has been renovated for the FIFA World Cup. The arena's stands have a capacity of 35,000 spectators. The renovation project was completed in December 2017.
Moscow Saint Petersburg Sochi
Luzhniki Stadium Otkritie Arena
(Spartak Stadium)
Krestovsky Stadium
(Saint Petersburg Stadium)
Fisht Olympic Stadium
(Fisht Stadium)
Capacity: 78,011[64] Capacity: 44,190[65] Capacity: 64,468[66] Capacity: 44,287[67]
Volgograd Rostov-on-Don
Volgograd Arena Rostov Arena
Capacity: 43,713[68] Capacity: 43,472[69]
Nizhny Novgorod Kazan
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Kazan Arena
Capacity: 43,319[70] Capacity: 42,873[71]
Samara Saransk Kaliningrad Yekaterinburg
Samara Arena Mordovia Arena Kaliningrad Stadium Central Stadium
(Ekaterinburg Arena)
Capacity: 41,970[72] Capacity: 41,685[73] Capacity: 33,973[74] Capacity: 33,061[75]

Team base camps

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.[76]

Preparation and costs


Scale model of the Volgograd Arena. Construction began in 2015.

At an estimated cost of over $14.2 billion as of June 2018,[3] it is the most expensive World Cup in history, surpassing the cost of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.[80]

The Russian government had originally earmarked a budget of around $20 billion[81] which was later slashed to $10 billion for the preparations of the World Cup, of which half is spent on transport infrastructure.[82] 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.[83] The biggest item of federal spending was the aviation infrastructure (117.8 billion rubles).[84] 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.[80]

Infrastructure spending

Platov International Airport in Rostov-on-Don was upgraded with automated air traffic control systems, modern surveillance, navigation, communication, control, and meteorological support systems.[85] 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.[86] In Samara, new tram lines were laid.[87] Khrabrovo Airport in Kaliningrad was upgraded with radio navigation and weather equipment.[88] 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.[85] 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.[89]


Volunteer flag bearers on the field prior to Belgium's (flag depicted) group stage match against Tunisia

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,[90] and engaged a total of 35,000 volunteers.[91] 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.[92]


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.[93][94][95]


Launching of a 1,000 days countdown in Moscow

The full schedule was announced by FIFA on 24 July 2015 (without kick-off times, which were confirmed later).[96][97] On 1 December 2017, following the final draw, six kick-off times were adjusted by FIFA.[98]

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.[99] 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.[100][21]

Opening ceremony

Soprano Aida Garifullina and pop singer Robbie Williams singing "Angels" at the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony took place on Thursday, 14 June 2018, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, preceding the opening match of the tournament between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.[101][102]

At the start of the ceremony, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a speech, welcoming the countries of the world to Russia and calling football a uniting force.[103] Brazilian World Cup-winning striker Ronaldo entered the stadium with a child in a Russia shirt.[103] Pop singer Robbie Williams then sang two of his songs solo before he and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina performed a duet.[103] Dancers dressed in the flags of the 32 competing teams appeared carrying a sign with the name of each nation.[103] At the end of the ceremony Ronaldo reappeared with the official match ball which had returned from the International Space Station in early June.[103]

Group stage

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.[104]

All times listed below are local time.[98]


The ranking of teams in the group stage was determined as follows:[35][105]

  1. Points obtained in all group matches;
  2. Goal difference in all group matches;
  3. Number of goals scored in all group matches;
  4. Points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
  5. Goal difference in the matches played between the teams in question;
  6. Number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question;
  7. Fair play points in all group matches (only one deduction could be applied to a player in a single match):
    • Yellow card: –1 points;
    • Indirect red card (second yellow card): –3 points;
    • Direct red card: –4 points;
    • Yellow card and direct red card: –5 points;
  8. Drawing of lots.

Group A

Pre-match ceremony prior to the opening game, Russia v Saudi Arabia
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Uruguay 3 3 0 0 5 0 +5 9 Advance to knockout stage
2  Russia (H) 3 2 0 1 8 4 +4 6
3  Saudi Arabia 3 1 0 2 2 7 5 3
4  Egypt 3 0 0 3 2 6 4 0
Source: FIFA
(H) Host.
Russia 5–0 Saudi Arabia
Egypt 0–1 Uruguay

Russia 3–1 Egypt
Uruguay 1–0 Saudi Arabia

Uruguay 3–0 Russia
Attendance: 41,970[110]
Saudi Arabia 2–1 Egypt

Group B

Iran vs. Portugal
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Spain 3 1 2 0 6 5 +1 5 Advance to knockout stage
2  Portugal 3 1 2 0 5 4 +1 5
3  Iran 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
4  Morocco 3 0 1 2 2 4 2 1
Source: FIFA
Morocco 0–1 Iran
Portugal 3–3 Spain

Portugal 1–0 Morocco
Iran 0–1 Spain
Attendance: 42,718[115]

Iran 1–1 Portugal
Spain 2–2 Morocco

Group C

Australia v Peru
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  France 3 2 1 0 3 1 +2 7 Advance to knockout stage
2  Denmark 3 1 2 0 2 1 +1 5
3  Peru 3 1 0 2 2 2 0 3
4  Australia 3 0 1 2 2 5 3 1
Source: FIFA
France 2–1 Australia
Attendance: 41,279[118]
Peru 0–1 Denmark
Attendance: 40,502[119]

Denmark 1–1 Australia
Attendance: 40,727[120]
France 1–0 Peru

Denmark 0–0 France
Attendance: 78,011[122]
Referee: Sandro Ricci (Brazil)
Australia 0–2 Peru

Group D

Iceland v Croatia
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Croatia 3 3 0 0 7 1 +6 9 Advance to knockout stage
2  Argentina 3 1 1 1 3 5 2 4
3  Nigeria 3 1 0 2 3 4 1 3
4  Iceland 3 0 1 2 2 5 3 1
Source: FIFA
Argentina 1–1 Iceland
Attendance: 44,190[124]
Croatia 2–0 Nigeria

Argentina 0–3 Croatia
Nigeria 2–0 Iceland

Nigeria 1–2 Argentina
Iceland 1–2 Croatia

Group E

Brazil v Costa Rica
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Brazil 3 2 1 0 5 1 +4 7 Advance to knockout stage
2   Switzerland 3 1 2 0 5 4 +1 5
3  Serbia 3 1 0 2 2 4 2 3
4  Costa Rica 3 0 1 2 2 5 3 1
Source: FIFA
Costa Rica 0–1 Serbia
Attendance: 41,432[130]
Brazil 1–1  Switzerland

Brazil 2–0 Costa Rica
Serbia 1–2  Switzerland

Serbia 0–2 Brazil
Attendance: 44,190[134]
Switzerland  2–2 Costa Rica

Group F

Germany v Mexico
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Sweden 3 2 0 1 5 2 +3 6 Advance to knockout stage
2  Mexico 3 2 0 1 3 4 1 6
3  South Korea 3 1 0 2 3 3 0 3
4  Germany 3 1 0 2 2 4 2 3
Source: FIFA
Germany 0–1 Mexico
Attendance: 78,011[136]
Sweden 1–0 South Korea

South Korea 1–2 Mexico
Germany 2–1 Sweden

South Korea 2–0 Germany
Attendance: 41,835[140]
Mexico 0–3 Sweden

Group G

Belgium v Tunisia
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Belgium 3 3 0 0 9 2 +7 9 Advance to knockout stage
2  England 3 2 0 1 8 3 +5 6
3  Tunisia 3 1 0 2 5 8 3 3
4  Panama 3 0 0 3 2 11 9 0
Source: FIFA
Belgium 3–0 Panama
Tunisia 1–2 England

Belgium 5–2 Tunisia
England 6–1 Panama

England 0–1 Belgium
Panama 1–2 Tunisia
Attendance: 37,168[147]

Group H

Japan v Poland
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Colombia 3 2 0 1 5 2 +3 6 Advance to knockout stage
2  Japan 3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4[lower-alpha 1]
3  Senegal 3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4[lower-alpha 1]
4  Poland 3 1 0 2 2 5 3 3
Source: FIFA
  1. 1 2 Fair play points: Japan −4, Senegal −6.
Colombia 1–2 Japan
Attendance: 40,842[148]
Poland 1–2 Senegal
Attendance: 44,190[149]

Japan 2–2 Senegal
Poland 0–3 Colombia
Attendance: 42,873[151]

Japan 0–1 Poland
Attendance: 42,189[152]
Senegal 0–1 Colombia
Attendance: 41,970[153]

Knockout stage

Russia v Croatia

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.[35]

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.[43]


Round of 16Quarter-finalsSemi-finalsFinal
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)
 Spain1 (3)
7 July – Sochi
 Russia (p)1 (4)
 Russia2 (3)
1 July – Nizhny Novgorod
 Croatia (p)2 (4)
 Croatia (p)1 (3)
11 July – Moscow (Luzhniki)
 Denmark1 (2)
 Croatia (a.e.t.)2
3 July – Saint Petersburg
 England1 Third place play-off
7 July – Samara14 July – Saint Petersburg
 Sweden0 Belgium2
3 July – Moscow (Otkritie)
 England2  England0
 Colombia1 (3)
 England (p)1 (4)

Round of 16

France 4–3 Argentina
Attendance: 42,873[154]

Uruguay 2–1 Portugal

Brazil 2–0 Mexico
Attendance: 41,970[158]

Belgium 3–2 Japan

Sweden 1–0  Switzerland


Uruguay 0–2 France

Brazil 1–2 Belgium
Attendance: 42,873[163]

Sweden 0–2 England
Attendance: 39,991[164]


France 1–0 Belgium

Croatia 2–1 (a.e.t.) England
Attendance: 78,011[167]

Third place play-off

Belgium 2–0 England


France 4–2 Croatia



There were 169 goals scored in 64 matches, for an average of 2.64 goals per match.

Twelve own goals were scored during the tournament, doubling the record of six set in 1998.[170]

6 goals

4 goals

3 goals

2 goals

1 goal

1 own goal

Source: FIFA[171]


In total, only four players were sent off in the entire tournament, the fewest since 1978.[172] 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.[173]

A player is automatically suspended for the next match for the following offences:[35]

  • Receiving a red card (red card suspensions may be extended for serious offences)
  • Receiving two yellow cards in two matches; yellow cards expire after the completion of the quarter-finals (yellow card suspensions are not carried forward to any other future international matches)

The following suspensions were served during the tournament:

Player Offence(s) Suspension(s)
Colombia Carlos Sánchez Red card in Group H vs Japan (matchday 1; 19 June) Group H vs Poland (matchday 2; 24 June)
Denmark Yussuf Poulsen Yellow card in Group C vs Peru (matchday 1; 16 June)
Yellow card in Group C vs Australia (matchday 2; 21 June)
Group C vs France (matchday 3; 26 June)
Germany Jérôme Boateng Yellow card Yellow-red card in Group F vs Sweden (matchday 2; 23 June) Group F vs South Korea (matchday 3; 27 June)
Panama Armando Cooper Yellow card in Group G vs Belgium (matchday 1; 18 June)
Yellow card in Group G vs England (matchday 2; 24 June)
Group G vs Tunisia (matchday 3; 28 June)
Panama Michael Amir Murillo Yellow card in Group G vs Belgium (matchday 1; 18 June)
Yellow card in Group G vs England (matchday 2; 24 June)
Group G vs Tunisia (matchday 3; 28 June)
Russia Igor Smolnikov Yellow card Yellow-red card in Group A vs Uruguay (matchday 3; 25 June) Round of 16 vs Spain (1 July)
Sweden Sebastian Larsson Yellow card in Group F vs Germany (matchday 2; 23 June)
Yellow card in Group F vs Mexico (matchday 3; 27 June)
Round of 16 vs Switzerland (3 July)
Mexico Héctor Moreno Yellow card in Group F vs Germany (matchday 1; 17 June)
Yellow card in Group F vs Sweden (matchday 3; 27 June)
Round of 16 vs Brazil (2 July)
Switzerland Stephan Lichtsteiner Yellow card in Group E vs Brazil (matchday 1; 17 June)
Yellow card in Group E vs Costa Rica (matchday 3; 27 June)
Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July)
Switzerland Fabian Schär Yellow card in Group E vs Brazil (matchday 1; 17 June)
Yellow card in Group E vs Costa Rica (matchday 3; 27 June)
Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July)
France Blaise Matuidi Yellow card in Group C vs Peru (matchday 2; 21 June)
Yellow card in Round of 16 vs Argentina (30 June)
Quarter-finals vs Uruguay (6 July)
Brazil Casemiro Yellow card in Group E vs Switzerland (matchday 1; 17 June)
Yellow card in Round of 16 vs Mexico (2 July)
Quarter-finals vs Belgium (6 July)
Sweden Mikael Lustig Yellow card in Group F vs Mexico (matchday 3; 27 June)
Yellow card in Round of 16 vs Switzerland (3 July)
Quarter-finals vs England (7 July)
Switzerland Michael Lang Red card in Round of 16 vs Sweden (3 July) Suspension served outside tournament
Belgium Thomas Meunier Yellow card in Group G vs Panama (matchday 1; 18 June)
Yellow card in Quarter-finals vs Brazil (6 July)
Semi-finals vs France (10 July)


Luka Modrić accepting the Golden Ball award from Vladimir Putin
Kylian Mbappé receiving the World Cup best young player award from Emmanuel Macron
France lifting the World Cup trophy

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.[174]

Golden Ball Silver Ball Bronze Ball
Croatia Luka Modrić Belgium Eden Hazard France Antoine Griezmann
Golden Boot Silver Boot Bronze Boot
England Harry Kane
(6 goals, 0 assists)
France Antoine Griezmann
(4 goals, 2 assists)
Belgium Romelu Lukaku
(4 goals, 1 assist)
Golden Glove
Belgium Thibaut Courtois
Best Young Player
France Kylian Mbappé
FIFA Fair Play Award

Additionally, FIFA.com shortlisted 18 goals for users to vote on as the tournaments' best.[175] The poll closed on 23 July. The award was sponsored by Hyundai.[176]

Goal of the Tournament
Goalscorer Opponent Score Round
France Benjamin Pavard  Argentina 2–2 Round of 16

Dream Team

As was the case during the 2010 and 2014 editions, FIFA did not release an official All-Star Team, but instead invited users of FIFA.com to elect their Fan Dream Team.[177][178]

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards
Belgium Thibaut Courtois Brazil Marcelo
Brazil Thiago Silva
France Raphaël Varane
Uruguay Diego Godín
Belgium Kevin De Bruyne
Brazil Philippe Coutinho
Croatia Luka Modrić
England Harry Kane
France Kylian Mbappé
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo

FIFA also published an alternate team of the tournament based on player performances evaluated through statistical data.[179]

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards
Belgium Thibaut Courtois Sweden Andreas Granqvist
Brazil Thiago Silva
France Raphaël Varane
Colombia Yerry Mina
Russia Denis Cheryshev
Brazil Philippe Coutinho
Croatia Luka Modrić
England Harry Kane
France Antoine Griezmann
Belgium Eden Hazard

Prize money

Prize money amounts were announced in October 2017.[180]

Position Amount (million USD)
Per team Total
Champions 38 38
Runner-up 28 28
Third place 24 24
Fourth place 22 22
5th–8th place (quarter-finals) 16 64
9th–16th place (round of 16) 12 96
17th–32nd place (group stage) 8 128
Total 400


The typeface "Dusha" used for branding


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.[181] 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.[182]


Tournament mascot, wolf Zabivaka

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".[183]


The first phase of ticket sales started on 14 September 2017, 12:00 Moscow Time, and lasted until 12 October 2017.[184]

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.[185] 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".[93][94][95]

Match ball

Match ball "Telstar 18"
Match ball for the knockout stage, "Telstar Mechta".

The official match ball of the 2018 World Cup group stage was "Telstar 18", based on the name and design of the first Adidas World Cup ball from 1970. It was introduced on 9 November 2017.[186]

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.[187]


On 30 April 2018, EA announced a free expansion for FIFA 18 based on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, featuring all 32 participating teams and all 12 stadiums used at the 2018 World Cup.[188]

Panini continued their partnership with FIFA by producing stickers for their World Cup sticker album.[189] Panini also developed an app for the 2018 World Cup where fans could collect and swap virtual stickers, with five million fans gathering digital stickers for the tournament.[190][191]

Official song

The official song of the tournament was "Live It Up", with vocals from Will Smith, Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi, released on 25 May 2018. Its music video was released on 8 June 2018.[192]


Thirty-three footballers who are alleged to be part of the steroid program are listed in the McLaren Report.[193] On 22 December 2017, it was reported that FIFA fired a doctor who had been investigating doping in Russian football.[194] 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.[195] 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.[196]

Host selection

The choice of Russia as host has been challenged. Controversial issues have included the level of racism in Russian football,[197][198][199] and discrimination against LGBT people in wider Russian society.[200][201] 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.[202][203] 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".[204]

Allegations of corruption in the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups caused threats from England's FA to boycott the tournament.[205] 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.[206] Garcia criticised the summary as being "materially incomplete" with "erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions", and appealed to FIFA's Appeal Committee.[207][208] 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.[209]

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.[210][211] 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".