2018 FIFA World Cup
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.
The bidding procedure to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups began in January 2009, and national associations had until 2 February 2009 to register their interest. Initially, nine countries placed bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mexico later withdrew from proceedings, and Indonesia’s bid was rejected by FIFA in February 2010 after the Indonesian government failed to submit a letter to support the bid. During the bidding process, the three remaining non-UEFA nations (Australia, Japan, and the United States) gradually withdrew from the 2018 bids, and the UEFA nations were thus ruled out of the 2022 bid. As such, there were eventually four bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, two of which were joint bids: England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium, and Portugal/Spain.The twenty-two-member FIFA Executive Committee convened in Zürich on 2 December 2010 to vote to select the hosts of both tournaments. Russia won the right to be the 2018 host in the second round of voting. The Portugal/Spain bid came second, and that from Belgium/Netherlands third. England’s bid to host its second tournament fell at the first hurdle.
The voting results were as follows:
|Round 1||Round 2|
|Portugal / Spain||7||7|
|Belgium / Netherlands||4||2|
The process was not without criticism: allegations of bribery on the part of the Russian team and corruption from FIFA members were made particularly by the English Football Association. It was alleged that four members of the executive committee had requested bribes to vote for England, and Sepp Blatter said that it had already been arranged before the vote that Russia would win. The 2014 Garcia Report, an internal investigation led by Michael J. Garcia, was withheld from public release by Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s head of adjudication on ethical matters. Eckert instead released a shorter revised summary, and his (and therefore FIFA’s) reluctance to publish the full report caused Garcia to resign in protest. Due to such controversy, the FA refused to accept Eckert’s absolving of Russia from blame, with Greg Dykecalling for a re-examination of the affair and David Bernstein calling for a boycott of the World Cup.
For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, all eligible nations – the 209 FIFA member associations minus automatically qualified hosts Russia – entered the qualifying process. Zimbabwe and Indonesia were later disqualified before playing their first matches,while Gibraltar and Kosovo, who joined FIFA on 13 May 2016 after the qualifying draw but before European qualifying had begun, also entered the competition. Places in the tournament were allocated to continental confederations, with the allocation unchanged from the 2014 World Cup. The first qualification game began in Dili, Timor Leste, on 12 March 2015 as part of the AFC‘s qualification, and the main qualifying draw took place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg on 25 July 2015 at 18:00 local time(UTC+3).
Of the thirty-two nations qualified to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, twenty countries competed at the previous edition of the tournament in 2014. Both Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time, with the former becoming the smallest country in terms of population to reach the World Cup. Other teams returning after absences of at least three tournaments include: Egypt, returning to the finals after a 28-year absence from their last appearance in 1990; Morocco, who last competed in 1998; Peru, returning after a 36-year absence (since 1982); and Senegal, competing for the second time after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002. It is the first time three Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland and Sweden) and four Arab nations (Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia) have qualified for the World Cup.
Notable countries that failed to qualify include four-time champions Italy (for the first time since 1958) and three-time runner-up the Netherlands (for the first time since 2002), and four reigning continental champions: 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winner Cameroon, two-time Copa América champion and 2017 Confederations Cup runner-up Chile, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winner New Zealand, and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion 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.